Are the Sacramento Kings Being Overlooked As Threats in the West?

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images

Are the Sacramento Kings Being Overlooked As Threats in the West?


Are the Sacramento Kings Being Overlooked As Threats in the West?


Raise your hand if you had the Sacramento Kings being a top three seed this season in the Western Conference. I know I didn’t. If there is one team that has been a surprise, it’s the Sacramento Kings. Before the season started, the majority of Las Vegas sports booking sites had the Sacramento Kings win total at 34.5. Sacramento exceeded that figure, winning 38 games in the regular season. Most basketball analysts had the Sacramento Kings in the play-in tournament. 

Sacramento clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2006, which snapped the longest playoff drought in both NBA history and longest active streak in North American sports. Sacramento will host the sixth seeded Golden State Warriors but the Sacramento Kings aren’t the favorites to win this series. Instead the Sacramento Kings are underdogs, massive underdogs. 

The question is are the Sacramento Kings being overlooked despite their outstanding regular season? The Sacramento Kings are a feel-good story as this has been a franchise that has dealt with general manager changes, coaching changes, and roster turnover on a daily basis. The franchise was trending in a positive direction with the moves that they made, and it started last season when they acquired center Domantas Sabonis in a trade with the Indiana Pacers last season. 

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images

The trade looks like a win-win for both sides considering how Haliburton and Sabonis have helped their respective teams. Sabonis has helped Sacramento in an immense way, allowing the offense to take leaps and bounds. His playmaking, ability to score and facilitate the offense has done Sacramento wonders this season. As great as Sabonis has been, we cannot overlook how great De’Aaron Fox has been this season. 

Fox’s game has evolved this season and it has been a revelation. He’s evolved not only as a scorer as he is averaging 25 points per game which is a career high but also has become a better passer and ball handler. Fox also showed the ability to come through for his team in pressure tight moments as he leads the NBA in essentially every clutch scoring category. The duo of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis has been a revelation for Sacramento.

Sacramento also hit on their head coaching hire by hiring Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown to be their head coach. Mike Brown has helped change Sacramento by creating an offense that is explosive and fun to watch. He’s put belief into his players to inspire them to the level that they’re currently playing at. Sacramento has the best offensive rating in the entire league and Brown deserves credit for it. Sacramento also hit on acquiring talent, signing Malik Monk from the Los Angeles Lakers, drafting Keegan Murray and acquiring Kevin Huerter from the Atlanta Hawks in a trade. 

So how come Sacramento isn’t getting the respect as serious title contenders? Well for starters, this team doesn’t have much playoff experience. I understand that playoff experience can be a bit overrated for some but it’s a real thing. As it stands only three players on the team have playoff experience. Kevin Huerter, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes. 

Playoff basketball is much different than regular season basketball. The game slows down, pressure and intensity ramps up, and the rotations are cut in half. A team that usually plays eight or nine players in the regular season will likely play six or seven. Secondly, teams in the Western Conference do not fear Sacramento due to their lack of playoff experience and their inability to defend at a high level.

As great as Sacramento has been offensively, the defense is a different story. Sacramento is a below average defensive team. This team is a bottom 10 team from a defensive standpoint, they finished 25th in defensive rating. It isn’t because the team doesn’t try to play defense, it’s due to the lack of defensive  personnel. Harrison Barnes is their best wing defender by default which isn’t particularly ideal. Sacramento has the firepower to score but you aren’t going to win an NBA Finals, let alone get to one if you can’t play defense consistently. 

Sacramento will be matched up with the defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors and despite the struggles that Golden State had this season this is still a dangerous team. Golden State has had their issues winning on the road, but this team still has Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green. Andrew Wiggins, who was away from the team due to a personal matter will be back for the postseason. Warriors also have players who have stepped up this season in Jonathan Kuminga. 

Sacramento isn’t being viewed as serious threats because of how this team has no playoff experience, aren’t good defensively, and their first round opponent is the defending NBA champions. Sacramento deserves to be commended for their season but this team isn’t a serious title contender as it stands right now. Sacramento’s offense can cause problems but their defense and lack of postseason experience keeps me from believing this team can make a deep playoff run. Sacramento is on the right track but this team is just not ready to take that leap as serious title contenders.


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