In celebrating the return to basketball, we will be previewing potential first-round playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the six teams who could finish as the eighth seed after eight seeding games in Orlando. Today’s team is the Sacramento Kings.
In today’s edition of potential playoff previews, we’re going to be taking a look at the Sacramento Kings. The Kings were a thorn in the Lakers’ side for many years during the early 2000s. They were one of the Lakers’ biggest rivals, with both teams playing in three consecutive playoffs (’00, ’01, ’02). The Lakers would go on to win the championship in those respective years. The Kings would go on to win nothing and continue losing in myriad ways.
Enough crapping on Sacramento; it’s rough enough they have to live there. The Kings might make it to the playoffs this year, for the first time since 2006! Let’s take a look at how they’d match up against the Lakers.
The Lakers headed to Orlando at 49-14 and the Kings are 28-36, just three and a half games behind the eighth seed. It has been a surprising turnaround after starting off the season with five straight losses. The Lakers have won four straight games against the Kings, including two straight this season.
The Kings have been on a tear. They were on a 7-3 post-All-Star Break run before the season was shut down.
Since the start of February, they have lost six times, winning 10 games during that span. Only the Lakers, Bucks, and Rockets have won more. The Celtics, Clippers, and Raptors have won the same amount of games during that time. They rank 11th in net rating and shot 38.6% from beyond the arc during that span (36.2 on the season)!
The Kings are led by De’Aaron Fox in both scoring and assists. Other notable players include sharpshooter Buddy Hield (shooting 38.7% from beyond the arc), Marvin Bagley III, and Harrison Barnes. They have also had major contributions from rumored Lakers tradefrom rumored Lakers trade targets Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica.
I just want to highlight Hield and Fox while we’re here. Hield has been pushed to the bench by former Lakers head coach Luke Walton. That’s quite a lot for a lottery pick to take in, but it’s actually been a positive change for Sacramento. Since he became the sixth man for the Kings, Hield has been averaging 19.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in eight fewer minutes per game. He’s shooting the three-ball at a 46.2% clip during this span. Fox during February has been shooting 45% from the field to go along with 38% from beyond the arc. He’s having a really good season this year and probably his best so far in his young career.
Kings fans have voiced their frustration with Walton but the former Arizona Wildcat seems to have them on the right track. Walton is getting his second chance at coaching a younger team and maybe getting close to his first playoff appearance during his first season with the Kings.
Still, outside of a Fox and Hield explosion, the Kings don’t seem to pose much of a risk to the Lakers if they secure that berth. They are inconsistent, don’t play great defense and don’t have many good options to guard James on the wings. Moreover, they lack the talent in the paint to give Anthony Davis and the Lakers’ center duo of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard any real problems.
If the Kings are to make the eighth seed, they will be facing the Lakers for the first time in the playoffs since 2002. Shout out to Robert Horry.