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

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

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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

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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

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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. 

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