March 13, 2017, 5:49 pm
The Kings are currently riding a season-long eight game losing streak, the longest losing streak since 2015 when Ty Corbin was coach. Things aren’t going well for Sacramento since the All-Star break, as they own a 1-8 record. However, there has been some positives during this rough stretch. They have shown effort in most if not all the nine games but they just lack any consistency across the board and it really hinders their ability to compete with other teams.
Sacramento has been presented with a mixed bag as far as their schedule goes this week. Orlando and Phoenix are both near the bottom in their respective conferences, while Oklahoma City and San Antonio are near the top. The two games earlier in the week are obviously the Kings’ best chance at winning as the chances of them beating either the Thunder or Spurs are close to zero. Playoffs are out of the picture now, that’s clear, so the Kings need to put an emphasis on developing their young players and getting them as many reps as possible.
Monday, March 13 – vs. Orlando Magic (24-43)
Orlando comes into town with the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. Like Sacramento, their season hasn’t gone to plan at all and are on their way to another lottery selection. Despite their record, they will be no easy beat. They managed to beat the Kings in Orlando earlier in the season so they can match up with the Kings rather well.
Nikola Vucevic will be a tough match up for the Kings. He is one of the more skilled centers offensively in the league and seems to always give the Kings everything they can handle. Evan Fournier is another guy who lights up the Kings on almost every occasion they meet. You can almost book him for at least 20 points and multiple threes. This is probably the most winnable game of the week but if Sacramento can’t get past the Magic, their losing steak could enter double-digits by the end of the week.
Wednesday, March 15 – @ Phoenix Suns (22-45)
The Suns have had all kinds of problems this season. They are second to last in the Western Conference, but have been playing some solid basketball of late with a record of 4-6 in their last 10 games. They are starting to show some consistency and they have some very talented young players that will give the Kings some problems.
Eric Bledsoe is always a handful for any team he faces. The Kings have undersized point guards so he will be tough to keep out of the paint. The key here may be to have Garrett Temple guard him most of the night but who knows what Dave Joerger will come out with. Alan Williams, Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss have all been playing well lately too. Again, this is a winnable game for Sacramento but they have to be consistent and take care of the ball, unlike last time the two teams met.
Saturday, March 18 – @ Oklahoma City Thunder (37-29)
This will be the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. The season series is currently tied at one a piece so this one will be the decider. Shutting down Russell Westbrook will be the absolute key. The triple-double machine and MVP candidate has tormented any team in his path and the young Kings could struggle to contain him.
Garrett Temple will (hopefully) be called upon to guard Westbrook. It’s the most logical move but we have come to learn that Joerger doesn’t always make the logical move. This is the first night of a back-to-back so Tyreke Evans could potentially be rested which makes the Kings’ job even tougher.
Sunday, March 19 – @ San Antonio Spurs (51-14)
Whenever the Kings meet the Spurs things haven’t been pretty. The Spurs have a 3-0 lead on Sacramento as far as the season series goes. The Kings had a great chance to beat the Spurs last week, leading by as many as 28, but they blew the lead and the Spurs went on to win the game by double-digits.
Last time San Antonio rested Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge among others so it will be interesting to see if they use that same tactic again. Aldridge is out for an extended period of time so he has already been ruled out. Based on how the last meeting went it would be no surprise to see Pop rest his veterans and top-tier players again.
- Malachi Richardson (hamstring) is nearing a return and could return in the next week or so. It is possible that he makes an appearance this week but it’s a long shot. A more likely return date will be in the following week. As a side note, this will only add to the Kings’ massive log-jam at shooting guard so it will be interesting to see how he fits back in.
- The Kings are currently projected to have the sixth and eighth picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. If this holds it will be a near perfect situation for the Kings as they will land two top-10 draft picks in a loaded draft class. There is some serious talent available at the top of the draft so the Kings can certainly cash in.
- March Madness begins this week. We all know where the Kings stand at the moment so it’s probably worth paying attention to this years College Basketball festivities. Especially considering the point from above that the Kings potentially have two high draft picks. Even through all the tough times this season, seeing that gives Kings’ fans hope for the future.
Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) – out for the season
Malachi Richardson (partially torn hamstring) – could return in the next week or so