Kings

Rollercoaster Kings Playoff Contenders or Pretenders?

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It’s been an up-and-down year for the Sacramento Kings through the first third of the 2020-21 NBA season.  They have teased their fans with good play while subsequently sending them up a wall with lackluster basketball.

The season started on an up note as the Kings began 3-1, then the roller coaster hit a deep downward dip as the team spiraled, losing nine of their next 11 games.

But the Kings got a break.

They were scheduled to play two games against the Memphis Grizzlies, but due to Covid tracing the Grizzlies didn’t have enough players to play.  The Kings used the unexpected days off to get in four practice sessions.

They say practice makes perfect.  Well, practice certainly paid off for the Kings.  They surged upward as they won seven of their next eight games.  They were suddenly 12-11 and in possession of the West’s seventh playoff spot.  But as the roller coaster goes up, the roller coaster comes down.  The Kings have lost their last four and their record sits at 12-15.

It’s maddening!  At times, the Kings look so good, but at other times their defense is horrible and they seem to be sleepwalking.  So are the Kings a playoff contender or are they pretenders?  Is this Year 15 of their playoff drought?

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Young Studs with a ROY?

Coming into the season, many felt this would be a year for player development and evaluation of the young players who fit the timeline of the Kings’ 23-year-old budding superstar De’Aaron Fox, who has really stepped up his game this year.

Another budding young star, Marvin Bagley, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, has stayed healthy after playing only 13 games last year.  Bagley has missed two games this season and his play has improved at both ends of the floor.  Rookie Tyrese Haliburton, a steal at No. 12 in the draft, is one of the team’s best players even though he is coming off the bench in most games.  He is a legitimate candidate to be the Rookie of The Year.  Fox, Bagley & Haliburton are the core of the team moving forward.

Starters Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes have been mentioned as trade candidates since even before the season began.  Both are 28 years old and supposedly don’t fit the “young timeline”.  Realistically, both are still in their prime and won’t be traded unless the Kings completely flounder.  They’ll still want to acquire good young players or significant draft compensation if they trade either player.

Hield, though he has struggled some this year, is still one of the elite shooters in the NBA.  Barnes is having perhaps his best season ever and has been an important part of the team’s success.  He is also valuable as a leader in the locker room and in the community.

The other starter, Richaun Holmes, is 27 years old and due to be a free agent at the end of the year.  The Kings probably would like to re-sign him because he brings energy and his push shot in the lane is lethal.

No player or coach likes to lose.  Despite the roller-coaster ride, the Kings have shown they can be competitive on most nights.  They are showing growth with the young core.  It may be frustrating at times, but Kings fans need to enjoy this team and celebrate every win.  If they make the playin tournament, great!  If they miss out, there is still reason to celebrate because they will have a shot at adding another good young player in what is expected to be a very deep 2021 draft class.

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight. 

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About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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