*Maybe. I mean, it’s kinda possible. We’ll see.
After watching Boogie make Greg Munroe look like a snack, I wish to explore the possibility of the Kings making the playoffs.
You might say, “But, Phuture, isn’t it premature to make playoff predictions based on one summer league game!?!”
And then I might say, “Pick one or more of the following:"
A) Shut the Hell up.
B) Yes, but seriously, shut the Hell up.
C) “Tell that bitch to be cool!”
D) As you’ll see, I’m not doing this based solely on one summer league game.
E) Which is why I will be doing this a bit differently.
Hmm, actually option “C” is the one I save for when I am eating at a restaurant and it gets held up by two amateurs and then I pull a gun on one of them and demand the return of my “Bad Mutha F*cker” wallet.
Be cool, honey-bunny. Here we go.
There have been a few “playoffs” murmurs surrounding our beloved Kings lately. My guess is that the murmurs are mostly the result of post-draft euphoria, purple-colored glasses and alcohol.
But, if we’re gonna whisper it, we might as well talk about it more openly. However, rather than asking how good the Kings are, or can be (or even asking how good our players are), I feel the best approach at gauging our potential return to the playoffs is to examine it through the backdoor (TWSS). By this, I mean we should look at the West as a whole and try to figure out which teams will clearly have a better record than us, which teams our record can be as good as, and finally which teams we feel we will have a better record than. Once we establish these categories and populate them, we will be left with a clearer picture of the Kings’ playoff chances.
TEAMS THAT WILL DEFINITELY HAVE A BETTER RECORD THAN THE KINGS
[Redacted]: The defending champs will be returning all of their core players. Kobe will be a year older, but he is showing no signs of not being great anytime soon. Pau, Kobe, Crazy, Bynum, Odom, Fisher. We’ll match up better against this team than we have at anytime since 2000-ought something. So, that’s kinda nice. But, they’re still clearly better at this point.
DENVER: Again, their core is returning and although we had great games against this team last year (and we might own them this year in our four match-ups), the Nugs will definitely have a better record than us at the end of next season.
OKC: This team had a coming out party last year and will only be better this year. If the Kings are lucky, we will have the kind of season OKC did last year.
DALLAS: Even without Al Jefferson, the Mavs should have a better record than the Kings next season. If the rumored trade for AJ goes through, the Mavs could be even better. UPDATE: Utah now in the lead to land Jefferson.
POR: Oden’s status as next great big man or bust doesn’t seem to matter too much to the rest of the guys on the Blazers’ roster. They play well and win games. I’m pretty sure P-Town’s record will best ours.
SAN ANTONIO: Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and maybe Shaq. I think the Spurs’ record will outshine ours.
TEAMS THAT WE COULD (please note, I stated “COULD”) BE AS GOOD AS
HOUSTON: Yao is an injury magnet. I don’t feel confident about his ability to go 82 games. Martin, we all know is good. As a squad, the Rockets seem to figure out a way to win. However, I feel that the Kings will also have the same grit and swagger as the Rockets. Thus, we will be in a lot of games til the end as well.
PHX: No Amar’e. People are acting like this isn’t a big deal for the Suns and Nash, and maybe they are right. But then again, maybe they are wrong. At any rate, I like our bigs better than their bigs, and while Nash is the quintessential PG, Evans is a force in his own way. The Suns will still run faster than ever, but I think their defense will be as porous as ever. J-Rich should have a crazy year in scoring the rock, though.
UTAH: If the AJ trade goes in Utah’s favor, I’ll say our teams are pretty much equal. If it doesn’t, the Jazz could be relegated to the category of “teams we are better than.” Then again, I feel like I am totally underrating Deron Williams. But then again, we have Tyreke. Hmm. The line, “we have Reke” is starting to become a crutch. I may have may be suffering from acute Homeritis.
TEAMS WE WILL CLEARLY HAVE A BETTER RECORD THAN
GSW: Curry, Ellis, Lee. That’s a good team. Luckily, Don Nelson is the coach and the franchise just seems to always figure out a way to f*ck up with the exception of a certain first-round playoff series a few years back. Kings are better.
MEMPHIS: Depending on chemistry, Memphis could sneak into the “as good as us” teams, but I still like our chances at a better record. Zach Randolph is waaay overdue for some kind of blow-up.
SO, WHERE DO WE STAND?
If my gut feelings and predictions are right, there are six teams that will definitely have a better record than the Kings, leaving the 7th and 8th spots open. We will be competing with four other teams for one of those spots (HOU, PHX, NO, UTAH), and we should comfortably be in a better position than the 4 remaining teams in the West (LAC, GSW, MIN, MEM).
I don’t think it’s huge stretch to say that we COULD be better than three of the four teams that I have determined to be on our level. But, it’s also not a stretch to think that the Grizz could put together a good season, or the Suns don'tmiss a beat despite being Amar'e-less, or that D-Will and AJ (if it happens) will become a force. Also, if for some reason our second- and third-year players do not show much progression and/or Dalembert doesn’t work out for us, our season could head south in a hurry, leaving us lottery bound yet again. Or, in a somewhat harsh, yet silver-lining kind of way, our players could show improvement, Cuz might be a beast and Dalembert may work out just fine, but we still simply get bested by 8 of the other teams in the West.
My gut, though, says Dalembert wants a nice contract the following season, Reke will have improved his game, physique and leadership (and will keep the other guys focused), Landry might not “improve” (or he might) but will still be effective, JT will show improvement, as will Casspi and (hopefully) Greene. Whiteside, according to Thorpe should spend the season in the D-League.
And Cousins? Well, we’ll see, but so far Cousins looks like the real deal. And, if that’s the case, this season may welcome Sacramento back to the post-season.
If it doesn’t all work out and we end up in the lottery again, then all I can help thinking is about the Heat and how elusive that fourth-in-a-row Championship is to obtain.
…and how the Kings could very well be the ones that deny Miami Thrice the Four-peat.