In the final weeks ahead of the 2017-18, Kings.com is breaking down each division around the Association, with a closer look at the Southeast Division in the final edition of the series.
The Hawks were recently a strong contender in the Eastern Conference, but with the departures of key players Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver over the past few years, Atlanta is looking to start a new chapter behind young up-and-coming guard Dennis Schroder.
Atlanta has added other youth around their floor general, including a pair of rookies packed with potential in John Collins and Tyler Dorsey.
The Kings will see the Hawks twice in 2017-18, with the matchup to watch on both occasions most likely happening in the backcourt. Sacramento’s combination of point guards in George Hill, De’Aaron Fox, and Frank Mason III could all have a role in slowing down Atlanta’s primary scoring option in Schroder.
2017-18 matchups vs Hawks
11/15/17 @ Atlanta
3/22/18 vs Atlanta
While retaining several key pieces, the Hornets also brought in a key contributor this offseason with center Dwight Howard now suiting up in Charlotte.
The other most notable additions to the Hornets came through the 2017 NBA Draft, where they picked up a potent scoring threat in Malik Monk as well as a perimeter defensive stopper with Dwayne Bacon.
Once teammates at Kentucky, Sacramento’s Fox and Charlotte’s Monk will go head-to-head on the professional level for the first time in 2017-18, which could be a prime opportunity for the former Wildcats to obtain bragging rights to hold over each other during their rookie campaigns.
2017-18 matchups vs Hornets
1/2/18 vs Charlotte
1/22/18 @ Charlotte
Miami stumbled to a slow start in 2016-17 with a record of just 11-30 through the first half of the season, but then caught fire in the second half, ripping off a 13-game winning streak and winning 30 of their final 41 games.
Led by a combination of Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, and Dion Waiters – Miami could continue to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. Incoming rookie Bam Adebayo had a strong showing during the NBA Summer League this past July, adding to the talent pool in South Beach.
The Kings bigs will be key in slowing down Whiteside and the Heat in the interior.
Sacramento is looking to snap a six game skid against Miami and will have two opportunities to do so, with the first matchup taking place in the new year of 2018.
2017-18 matchups vs Heat
1/25/18 @ Miami
3/14/18 vs Miami
With a roster filled with youth, Orlando added several newcomers to its squad this summer – bringing in rookie Jonathan Isaac and breakout guard Jonathon Simmons.
These two players could be crucial to helping on the defensive side of the ball at the very least for the Magic, as they look to turn a corner in 2017-18 and make a return to the postseason.
A player that could be of note in both of the Kings-Magic encounters is Willie Cauley-Stein, who logged an impressive 18 points and 8 rebounds in his last meeting against Orlando. Trill will be facing off against a stable of Magic bigs highlighted by Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic as he looks to repeat his performances from the last go-around.
2017-18 matchups vs Magic
1/23/18 @ Orlando
3/9/18 vs Orlando
In their biggest move of the summer, Washington re-signed starting small forward Otto Porter this past July after he enjoyed a career year in 2016-17.
Following the move, the Wizards remain as one of the major contenders in the East as guard John Wall continues to establish his dominance as one of the top players in the League. Should his rise in play continue, there’s reason to believe Washington can further progress in the playoffs this season.
Often thought of as the rookie whose game most resembles Wall’s is De’Aaron Fox. Both guards are former Kentucky Wildcats who possess breakneck speed and a combination of playmaking and scoring touch that have made many nod their heads in agreement with the comparison.
This season, we may get a firsthand look at just how these two compare as Fox begins his NBA career in October with a matchup versus Wall and the Wizards.
2017-18 matchups vs Wizards
10/29/17 vs Washington
11/13/17 @ Washington