What started out as a fun new rivalry, is starting to get quite repetitive. After playing a rough seven-game series against the Warriors in last season’s playoffs, the Kings faced them twice in the preseason, and then again two times since the start of the regular season.
It’s getting tiresome, and we’re not even the ones who have to chase Stephen Curry around the perimeter or try to keep Kevon Looney off the glass. Looney is by far the most underrated Warrior, but Sabonis knows exactly what he does night in and night out.
During the playoffs, his size and physicality created problems for the Kings’ All-Star center. He still managed to average a double-double for the series, but it did not come easy. This time around Sabonis looked more comfortable, and the Kings needed that.
With De’Aaron Fox out, all eyes were on the team’s second All-Star, and even though the Kings lost to a Klay Thompson game-winner, he did not disappoint. He finished the game with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, leading the Kings in all three categories. Sabonis is not the kind of player that takes over a game the way Fox does, but he stepped up as the Kings’ leader and impacted the game all over the court.
Sabonis makes franchise history
This marked the fourth straight game this season that he finished with at least 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, adding his name to the list of franchise greats. Sabonis is now the first player in franchise history since Oscar Robertson in the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons to start a year off with a streak like that.
He is also only the fifth player in franchise history to record a double-double in each of the first few games of the season, joining Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Sam Lacey, and Chris Webber.
Sabonis looks ready for another All-Star campaign
Sabonis finished each of the last five seasons averaging a double-double with points and rebounds as well as at least 5 assists. Over that time, he has been an All-Star three times and might add another selection to the list this season.
There are a lot of great big in the league, but if Sabonis keeps going like this, he has a solid case to be in the mix once again. Kings fans are not surprised by this. Other people aren’t quite as high on Sabonis, however.
Just before the start of the regular season, Kevin O’Connor from the Ringer claimed on The Mismatch podcast that the Kings would learn this season that they would have to upgrade from Sabonis if they wanted to win in the playoffs.
It is true that he has defensive limitations and is not a rim protector but there are few if any players who can do what he does offensively and block shots at the same time. Before we make any rash judgments about Sabonis we should wait to see him play in the postseason with an improved and more experienced team.