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Scouting Report | Wolves At Kings

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

The Game

After they couldn’t execute in the final minutes of their game against the Lakers on Wednesday, the Wolves are still on the hunt for their first road win. They have a real opportunity on Friday night in Sacramento.

The Kings are no longer the pushovers that they once were. They run an insanely fast offense led by a dynamic guard duo of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, and they’ve committed wholeheartedly to trying to win on offense. When you don’t have good defenders on your team, that’s certainly a strategy.

The Wolves have lost four in a row and hold a record of 4-8. The Kings are 6-5. However, despite the difference in their records, the Wolves have a blueprint for success in Sacramento. Minnesota can play fast, and they have a ton of shooters—as was on display when they set a new franchise record for made three-pointers on Wednesday. They’re more than capable of running with the Kings. The difference is that the Wolves have a half-court offense they can turn to when they need it, and they have defensive playmakers. Fox and Hield will have their hands full with Jimmy Butler, Josh Okogie and, if he plays, Jeff Teague. The Wolves can win this one. 

What: Wolves vs Kings
When: 9:00 p.m. CST
Where: Golden 1 Center
Watch: Fox Sports North Plus
Listen: 830 WCCO AM

Fire It Up 

If the Wolves thought the Lakers played fast, wait until they get a look at the Kings. Sacramento plays with the fastest pace in the league, and score the fifth-most points per game. The Kings’ entire strategy is getting as many shots up as possible—they’re a bad defensive team and their offense isn’t particularly efficient. They want to run and run and run and hope their opponents can’t keep up.

Playing fast is easy when you have the point guard that the Kings do. De’Aaron Fox is an absolute maniac in the open floor and has more burst than anyone else in the league. To their credit, the Kings have done a good job building lineups that take advantage of Fox’s speed. Buddy Hield is having a career year and Sacramento starts Iman Shumpert and Nemanja Bjelica at the three and four spots, respectively, with Willie Cauley-Stein at center. The Kings barely play Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere (two bigger, slower centers) at all, and they use their No. 2 draft pick Marvin Bagley as a sixth man. It all makes for an extremely fast-paced, fun game on offense and almost no defense whatsoever. 

Go Big… And Fast

The nice thing about the Wolves is that they can size on the floor that also has the ability to play fast. If the Wolves play Wiggins and KAT at power forward and center, Butler at the three, Okogie at the two and Derrick Rose or Tyus Jones at the one, they can run the floor with the Kings and still have the size to take advantage of post-ups—especially if Butler and Wiggins can take Shumpert in Bjelica inside. 

The Kings will punish you if you try to play slow players against them—Gorgui Dieng probably won’t be seeing much time at the four—but the Wolves need to be wary of falling into a trap of playing the Kings’ style. The Wolves like to pound the ball inside and kick it out beyond the perimeter. They can still do that against Sacramento. 

Projected Starting Lineups: 

Wolves: PG—Rose, SG—Butler, SF—Wiggins, PF—Gibson, C—Towns

Kings: PG—Fox, SG—Hield, SF—Shumpert, PF—Bjelica, C—Cauley-Stein.

Injury Report:

Wolves: Jeff Teague (knee contusion) is questionable and Justin Patton (foot) is out. 

Kings: No injuries to report.