3 Keys for the Sacramento Kings to keep their playoff hopes alive 

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings
New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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2. A big offensive game from Keegan Murray

The Kings drafted Keegan Murray fourth overall when most people had him as the fifth pick at best because they liked the potential fit. Then, they refused to trade him for a third All-Star because they believed he would be that third star sooner rather than later. 

Now is the time for Murray to prove them right. Malik Monk has done a good job filling in as the Kings’ third big contributor over the season, buying Murray some time to get his bearings. Monk will be watching tonight’s game from the sidelines, however, and someone else has to step up offensively. 

Murray did it against the Warriors, leading all scorers with 32 points. He was aggressive and actively looking for his shots. He needs to replicate that. Domantas Sabonis will have his hands full with Jonas Valanciunas in the paint, and the Pelicans have good perimeter defenders to put on De’Aaron Fox. Murray cannot rely on his two All-Star teammates to do all the heavy lifting but show the Pelicans right from the start that there is someone else they have to worry about. 

Even though he is just in his second NBA season, Murray already has a reputation as a shooting threat. He needs to look for his shot, even if it is not falling at first. If he keeps shooting, the Pelicans will have to focus on him defensively because they cannot risk him getting hot from three eventually. 

At the same time, Murray cannot just be an outside threat. He has gotten so much better at putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim. Now is the time to lean into that. Someone other than Fox has to make the perimeter defenders work by going right at them.