Timberwolves Preview: At the King’s new arena

Dec 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) rebound in the second quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) rebound in the second quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Timberwolves play their second game of the season against the Kings on Saturday night in Sacramento at 9:30 Central Time on NBA TV.

After a disappointing loss in Memphis in Wednesday night’s season-opener, the Timberwolves are looking for a big win soon.

We’ve spent all summer talking about how this should be the breakout year for the Wolves. Every game is a must-win, but this game is really a must-win. Timberwolves fans everywhere have high hopes for this team, so a loss to the Sacramento Kings would be a tough start to the season.

As of now, according to most online sports books, the Kings are favorites in this game (-1.0). Personally, I am confident that the Timberwolves will win this game. After all, according to Rudy Gay, Sacramento is “basketball hell”.

It’s hard to tell what exactly the Kings are trying to do right now. They have DeMarcus Cousins, but have failed year after year to give him talent that fits. Sure, Minnesota isn’t the best team in the league, but at least the Wolves have a plan.

To break down this game, a tail of the tape style of player comparison should do:

Point Guard:

Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio

Sacramento Kings: Ty Lawson

The clear advantage here is with the Timberwolves. Ty Lawson was actually drafted by Minnesta in 2009 — the same draft during which Rubio was selected.

While Lawson has at times looked like a great player, since his injury in 2015, he hasn’t exactly bounced back. Rubio’s defense should be successful in stopping Lawson from scoring. In theory, Lawson’s defense should not be able to stop Rubio from distributing successfully, and Rubio will have the advantage in this match-up.

Shooting Guard:

Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine

Sacramento Kings: Aaron Afflalo

Personally, I believe the advantage is with the Timberwolves. Some might not agree, as Afflalo is a seasoned veteran with a pretty shot. LaVine is definitely more athletic and has more scoring ability, however, and Afflalo is not very strong in attacking the basket. Neither players are exactly defensive standouts, so I’d have to give this one to LaVine.

Small Forward:

Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins

Sacramento Kings: Rudy Gay

This will be an interesting match-up to watch for Timberwolves fans. It will be a good look at how Wiggins will do against over-sized small forwards, as Rudy Gay is a much bigger player.

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If Andrew Wiggins can defend the drive well against Rudy, the advantage should be in Wiggins’ favor. Rudy Gay historically forces shots that can give him a low shooting percentage. It is a close match-up, but Wiggins is going to have to take the advantage.

Power Forward:

Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng

Sacramento Kings: Kosta Koufos

I’m not looking to hate on Kosta, but Gorgui should have the upper hand in this match-up. Kosta is a fine player, but he shouldn’t be able to defend Gorgui outside the paint, and he won’t be an offensive threat to the Wolves. Nothing to worry about in this match-up.


Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Anthony-Towns

Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins

This is going to be a very interesting match-up; Boogie Cousins had 37 points and 16 rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

DeMarcus is one of the most impressive players in the NBA, and Towns is also obviously a great player. That said, I think that Cousins has the advantage in this one. Check it out in a year or two and this might be another story, however.


Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn, Brandon Rush, Jordan Hill, Shabazz Muhammad

Sacramento Kings: Ben McLemore, Matt Barnes, Willie Cauley-Stein, Anthony Tolliver

Neither of these teams have the most exceptional benches in basketball. Minnesota does have the deeper bench, and if the bench for the Wolves can step it up from their poor performance against the Grizzlies, it will create much more options for the Wolves offense. McLemore is a streaky talent, and we can expect Barnes to bring energy to the Kings.

As far as the coaching staff goes, the Timberwolves have an advantage, although Minnesota native Dave Joerger is a solid coach in his own right.

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This game should be a win for the Wolves. That said, the Timberwolves are inexperienced and DeMarcus Cousins could go off at any time. Be sure to tune in on NBA TV at 9:30 tonight!