Kings vs. Lakers: Players to Watch in NBA Preaseason Showdown

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2012

ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers works out before the game with the Portland Trail Blazers at Citizens Business Bank Arena on October 10, 2012 in Ontario, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

There was a time when a matchup between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers would have been must-see TV, even in preseason.

Now, however, it still has intrigue, but it is very one-sided. The Kings stopped being relevant years ago. 

The Lakers never cease to be relevant, even when they aren't great. That certainly doesn't appear to be the case this year, as they have made a couple semi-noteworthy acquisitions at point guard and center. 

In preparation for tonight's preseason clash between the Kings and Lakers, here are the players we are keeping a close eye on. 

 

Dwight Howard, Lakers

Surprise, surprise, am I right?

The big man is expected to make his Lakers debut tonight, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles

Howard has been sidelined since last April with a back injury that required surgery to repair a herniated disk. Considering the fragile nature of most centers, it was the kind of thing that gives you hesitation before predicting him to be the 20-point, 15-rebound per night player he usually is. 

Even if he just plays a handful of minutes, having Howard on the court for game action against real competition is a huge win for the Lakers. 

 

Antawn Jamison, Lakers

At some point this season the Lakers will be forced to turn to their bench. Even with all their impressive acquisitions, they are not exactly what you would call a young team. 

At 26, Howard is the only projected starter under the age of 32. 

Even though Jamison is not a young man himself, entering the season at age 36, he does have a strong resume to support him being able to produce when Pau Gasol needs time off. 

But it is concerning that Jamison shot a career-low .403 last season with Cleveland. He has to at least improve that to 42-43 percent if he wants to be the bench player the Lakers desperately need. 

 

Thomas Robinson, Kings

There are two things that the Kings have lacked in recent years that has led to their fall into obscurity: size and defense. 

Enter: Thomas Robinson. 

The rookie out of Kansas figures to solve both problems for the franchise, while also adding versatility to a guard-heavy offense. He was seen as a defensive player with minimal offensive talent for most of his college career. 

All that changed last season as he added muscle. He more than doubled his points per game from 7.6 as a sophomore to 17.7 as a junior. 

A game against the Lakers, even in preseason, will do wonders for his development. He already showed a good feel for the game against L.A. on Friday, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in 18 minutes. 

That big presence inside is going to help the Kings turn their fortunes around sooner rather than later.