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Pistons links: Sacramento Kings tilt; a little Most Improved Player talk, and bad predictions

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The Kings may be bad right now, but don't expect the Pistons to roll over them so easily.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings Preview -- CBS Sports

The Kings obviously have a certain level of talent, it's just not the right mix of it in recent years.  Not even close.

Although the Kings are off to a putrid start this season, they should be revved for an extra inspired effort tonight:

With the franchise off to its poorest start since going a club-worst 1-13 in 1990-91, Cousins mentioned a players-only meeting would be scheduled for Tuesday. Sacramento dropped a season-high eight in a row from Jan. 13-30 in 2014-15.

''We've got some issues in the house we need to figure out," Cousins, who has averaged 21.8 points, 11.3 boards and 3.5 turnovers in four games, said after he recorded his 200th double-double.

''But just to make it clear, I believe in every single person in this room. We got to stay together. I feel like when those issues are fixed, winning will come.''

Sliding Sacramento Kings hold 'family' meeting to clear the air after 1-7 start -- ESPN

Well-respected veteran and former Piston, Caron Butler, chiming in:

Butler also used the term "family" to describe the Kings and went into some of the specific issues the Kings addressed in the meeting.

"You have to talk about things you see and address things that you want to get better, could be better," he said. "You know, starting with our effort and playing together and better on defense. Taking care of the ball better. Being honest with ourselves.

Is a Kings turnaround coming? -- Sactown Royalty

Bench play should be a big factor in tonight's game, especially if Darren Collison makes his way back to the court from a hamstring injury, although it's unlikely.  Stephen Curry's brother Seth Curry is also injured, but could return tonight.

2) Despite all odds, the bench has been outstanding

Anybody who's seen the last stretch of games for the Kings knows that the bench is single-handedly responsible for making the Kings competitive whenever they have been. With the Boogie-less starting lineup crapping the bed, the Kings bench has stepped up making key runs and at least giving fans a reason to stay tuned.

The numbers have shown this excellence. The Kings bench is currently third in the NBA in points per game, averaging 47 points per game. This is mostly because Darren Collison has been consistently terrific, raking in nearly 16 points per game in the time he's seen the court. Marco Belinelli is also starting to bust out of his early season slump, averaging 12 points per game himself and offering key playmaking contributions. Omri Casspi has been shooting lights out from three (he's currently 2nd in the NBA among qualified leaders) and running the break hard, giving the team nearly 11 points per game himself. Koufos has been rock solid as a backup; he's an incredibly fundamental defender, and you can't ignore him offensively.

Open Floor -- SI.com

Some good stuff:

C.J. McCollum seizes opportunity

As Detroit's Andre Drummond makes his case for the NBA's Most Improved Player in the Eastern Conference, the West has a strong candidate of its own: C.J. McCollum, the third-year guard out of Lehigh, who is averaging 20.9 points (up from 6.8 last season), 4.1 rebounds (up from 1.5) and 3.1 assists (up from one). Just as important: The Blazers, gutted by the defections of LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews and the trade of Nicolas Batum last summer, are 4-3 this season, a far cry from the train wreck many expected them to be. Through Sunday, McCollum and backcourt mate Damian Lillard have combined to average 48.7 points per game. The only duo more prolific: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

7. Jazz  8. Raptors  9. Thunder  10. Bulls

11. Detroit Pistons: Nothing like a trip to Golden State to provide a reality check for Detroit. Still, Monday's loss to the Warriors aside, Detroit is still 2-1 on this West Coast trip with a chance to go 4-2 before returning home for a showdown with Cleveland.

Four NBA predictions that appear to have already gone wrong -- SI.com

I'm confident Baynes will settle in and be fine, but Steve Blake really needs a huge bounce back game in the worst way -- and quick.  Some of those five turnovers last game were the worst (thanks @Shinons8 for the turnover gifs in those comments).

4. Detroit was too inexperienced

On offense, the Reggie Jackson/ Andre Drummond pick-and-roll has confounded opponents because the big (or a help defender) must keep a body on Drummond at all times. Otherwise, he'll dunk an alley-oop or grab the offensive rebound if Jackson misses. With Drummond and Jackson on the floor together, Detroit has outscored opponents by 18.8 points per 100 possessions. In fact, the Pistons' four highest-minute players (Drummond, Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Marcus Morris) all have net ratings comfortably in double digits.

The same cannot be said for Detroit's bench. With Jodie Meeks sidelined for 12 to 16 weeks, the Pistons are relying on Steve Blake, Aron Baynes, and Reggie Bullock for rotation minutes. None of them provide much reason to believe they can provide quality rotation minutes at this point, and bench-heavy units featuring combinations of those three have been destroyed.

So, comment section gurus, what's your feeling on the ball game tonight?