Another day, another way for the Kings to play spoiler to a team looking to sneak up in the standings before the playoffs. Wednesday’s potential victim, the Miami Heat, are currently sitting comfortably in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with the Detroit Pistons in the ninth spot a whole 5.5 games behind them. FIVE AND A HALF GAMES or in Western Conference terms, the distance between the third seed in and having a shot at first overall pick. Today’s game won’t be a team living or dying by the outcome, no, Kings fans will just have to settle for ruining some upward momentum: the Heat are just four games from the third seed and two games from the fifth seed and not having to play the Raptors in the first round. With rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox back healthy and Willie Cauley-Stein ready for some run, the Kings have a solid chance on Wednesday night of giving you Top-3 or Bust Club members yet another ulcer. Here’s to Maalox and Miles Bridges with the 9th pick, you scamps! Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Wednesday, March 14th; 7:00pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
10 Days to Never: One of my favorite things the Miami Heat franchise has done over the years is dig through the waiver wires, and G League and Random Randy’s in the league looking for pieces that fit into the Miami mindset. Their most famous example of late has been Hassan Whiteside, the former space cadet Kings center, who has become one of the better centers in the league over the past few years under the tutelage of Coach Erik Spoelstra and living legend Pat Riley, but there are plenty of other swings at the fences that have gotten the Heat on base. Grabbing players like Rodney McGruder, who came from thin air to start 65 games for them last season, or taking a chance on a guy that looked headed out the NBA door in James Johnson and turning him into a success story; all those little pieces the Heat pick up for cheap are the difference between an eighth seed without a true superstar (sorry ghost of Dwyane Wade’s knees), and the mid-lottery.
This is something that the Kings have almost refused to do over the years, and it kills me inside. While the Heat are taking chances on players like the high flying Derrick Jones after he was released from Suns, the Kings are snoozing. They’ve used their D-League to develop picks we know they’re keeping, but who have they brought in from outside that has been given a shot? Jakarr Sampson has had some actual success and after that there’s... who exactly? David Stockton? Sim Bhullar? Jack Cooley doesn’t count because he isn’t a human being. Their use of the D-League under Vivek has gone from experimental system work with David Arsenault, Jr. running the Grinnell system, to Darrick Martin running a team that stays intact for much of the year, because the Kings aren’t calling anyone up and tossing a flyer at talent that is floating around the league. The Heat do this with great success, and every year seem to have at least a couple of guys that end up being rotational players picked up for cheap. The Kings have nothing to lose and everything to grabbing anything that looks like talent and stuffing them in the D-League or at the end of their bench, especially with so few games left in the season. They don’t and they won’t... but they should.
Draft Dreams: Today is that other Bridges...
Prediction: Deciding to rest each team’s players, the Kings and Heat decide that instead they’ll have the coaches square up for a Sass-Off. Erik hits Dave with a limp look of confusion. Dave counters with eyerolling look of disbelief. Spoelstra pulls ahead with his hand over his mouth and chin, harsh head shake combo, but Joerger beats him with a crossed-arms, fiery eyed stare followed by a classic hoarse what-the-f***-are-we-doing whisper.
Kings: 1, Heat: 0