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Winning is OK

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Don’t be afraid to enjoy victories because you’re worried about draft picks.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings are in a bizarre position following their 116-100 blowout win vs. the Denver Nuggets last night. Yes, insert every one game sample size caveat here. I think we can all be responsible people and have a good conversation under the knowledge that this is all extremely early.

The Kings were awesome last night. They didn’t just beat the Nuggets, (an average team at best) they destroyed them. The Kings looked like the better team for nearly 48 minutes.

So what now? I don’t expect the Kings to beat every team by 16 points for the rest of the season, nor do I expect this team to make the playoffs, but could the Kings be better than they should be? Could the Kings be good enough to lose their top-10 protected first round pick? Absolutely.

Winning is OK isn’t the most appropriately title for this here blog, but I liked how it sounded so I went with it. What I really meant is that rooting for winning is ok. Being excited about winning is ok, despite the draft pick ramifications attached to those wins.

The beauty (and frustration) about being a fan is that we control nothing. It’d be one thing to be able to say ok, Kings, lose every game for the rest of the season and have that happen. We can’t do that. We have zero control over what this team does on or off the court, aside from hiring George Karl, of course. I am still convinced 60% of his hiring was fan pressure, but I digress. I think you know what I’m trying to say. We can both root and have fun over winning performances out of the Kings’ young talent while also knowing it may be better for the Kings’ long-term future to lose.

Basically, what Akis said in less than 140 characters here.

One gripe I had on this exact topic as the trade deadline approached was Vlade Divac keeping both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson. I just felt like so long as the Kings had 48 minutes of extremely solid point guard play, they weren’t going to be a disaster. You look at a team like the Denver Nuggets last night that is forced to start a quite-old Jameer Nelson at point guard and you realize what a luxury the Kings have in how interchangeable and talented Lawson and Collison are. When you have better point guard depth than a lot of the NBA, you at least have a shot.

I think criticizing the Kings’ unwillingness to dump some of their veterans at the trade deadline is a fair critique, but again, it’s one of those things you just can’t control. I’m not saying that means you have to be happy about it, but if I couldn’t enjoy these wins and I hated everything about the Kings’ front office, I’d stop watching the Kings entirely. What would be the point?

What I’m saying is, don’t feel bad about watching a young basketball team win games you didn’t think they could win. It’s ok. You’ve earned the right to understand the long-term ramifications and enjoy the moment. It’s not your fault if things go sour.

One other thing I wanted to mention, and I had a post planned on this before Cousins was dealt, but after Cousins was traded I thought it would be irrelevant. Maybe it isn’t irrelevant after all.

Dave Joerger went on The Ringer’s NBA show with host Chris Vernon just days before the Cousins trade. On that show, Vernon asked Joerger about the Kings’ inexplicable ‘plan’. Essentially, Vernon wanted to know why the Kings were so locked in on making the playoffs when the only reason they were in contention for a playoff spot was because of how weak the west is at the bottom, and that getting the 8th spot would mean an inevitable four game sweep to the Warriors.

In response, Joerger said the following -

You want to go be competitive. You want to go out every night and just compete. I think that’s the biggest thing when we talked about what can we do to change the culture? That is what it is. Whatever it is about picks going forward, and development and all that, if you go gosh darn it we’re playing those Kings, they just play their tails off man. And if you’re a free agent, and your like hey, you know what? I don’t know a lot about Sacramento, but I know that team plays really hard. I’d be willing to be part of that going forward.

Vernon followed up by asking Joerger if he thought the perception that the Kings play hard, and that the future is bright, was better for the long-term success of the franchise than another tanking season.

Joerger responded with -

You hear that all the time. That the worst place to be is the middle. Either go all the way and get the highest pick that you can, or get in the playoffs, but don’t be the 9th best. Nothing has been said to me about the direction other than go out and win as many games as you can. If that changes, or injuries change where you try and develop more of your younger guys, but like I said, I think that is the way to go...

...The culture of hard work, and team work, and going out and competing every night is really, really important.

I don’t know how much of Joerger’s opinion or direction has changed since that interview and the Cousins trade, but it sounds like this regime is putting some of the Kings’ inability to attract free agents on the fact that they’ve been godawful for a decade, and that the only way to change perception is go out there and win.

We can disagree with that philosophy, but I take some solace in knowing the Kings at least have a reason for winning these games. It isn’t an accident. They aren’t failing at tanking. They are making an effort to regain respectability around the league, on the court.

The Kings could use some of that in the front office.

I’m not making any judgments here. All if this so early and so new, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. These are simply some of the idle Kings thoughts rolling around in my head while I try and figure out what the hell is going on in Sacramento.

At least we have something to talk about?