Here are three areas the Sacramento Kings must address in order to make a serious postseason run.
The plan, which involves 22 teams being invited to participate in a restart in Orlando, Florida, is particularly exciting for basketball fans in Northern California. The reason? The Sacramento Kings made the list of participants!
The team’s current 28-36 record places them 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. According to reports, the Kings will have eight regular-season games to capture the eight seed outright, or assume the eight seed and force a play-in game.
Here are three things that Sacramento must do in order to earn their first taste of postseason basketball since the 2005-2006 campaign.
The Sacramento Kings must stay healthy
This is a key for every team vying for a postseason berth. However, it was a particular thorn in Sacramento’s side throughout the first portion of the season. The Kings played a total of 64 games before the league was brought to a screeching halt in mid-March.
However, few players on the team were able to participate in the full allotment of games. Only Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica, and Cory Joseph appeared in all 64 contests. This means that vital pieces missed a significant amount of time due to injury.
However, prolonged absences by these key players made it extremely difficult to build any momentum during the first portion of the season.
For the first time since the beginning of the year, the roster looks to be fully healthy. Only Bagley and guard Justin James are listed on any team injury reports, with both expected to make a full recovery by mid-June.
The task ahead of them is difficult. Hopefully, players have spent the last several months doing everything in their power to remain in game shape.
It will be critical for the Kings to prepare themselves for a grueling period, where they must play their best basketball of the season to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Sacramento Kings must resolve the tension with Buddy Hield
Sharpshooter Buddy Hield was reportedly upset when head coach Luke Walton made the surprising decision to bring the guard off the bench at the turn of the new year.
The tension seemed to come to a head when Hield, who had been one of the most effective three-point shooters in the league, was left off the court when the team was down by three in final seconds of a game against the Raptors in early March.
The decision to leave the defending three-point shootout champion on the bench in such a crucial situation drew ire from Kings fans and NBA analysts.
The part that makes Hield’s benching interesting is the fact that the Kings have posted a 13-7 record since January 24th. This means that the team has played some of their best basketball of the season with their sniper playing the role of sixth-man.
If the Kings have not done so already, it’s time for Walton and Hield to have a conversation and get on the same page. This tension cannot be allowed to disrupt team chemistry during such a crucial point in the season.
I personally believe that the Kings would be wise to keep Hield as the sixth-man in a Manu Ginobili/Lou Williams type of role. He should still be getting an appropriate amount of playing time. And I certainly want him on the floor in late-game situations.
The Sacramento Kings must play fast
This is another area where the team’s conditioning will be critical. According to ESPN’s John Hollinger, the Kings ranked 24th in the league in terms of overall pace of play with a 100.7 rating. This is unacceptable for a team with Fox running point.
Perhaps the franchise’s best player, Fox’s best asset is his blistering speed and athleticism. The lack of a 40-yard dash typed metric makes it difficult to assess specifically how quickly NBA players can move.
However, for whatever it’s worth, the recent NBA 2K20 game ranked Fox as the fastest player in the league.
If you couple this with the boost of young, athletic, legs in the returning Bagley and Holmes, there is no reason for the Kings to play at such a slow pace.
Let’s break out the plays run by prime-Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns and looks for transition plays early and often.
What aspects of the game do you think the Kings need to focus on to make a postseason run?