About two weeks ago, I wrote that the Kings needed to start winning their winnable games as they headed into the lightest stretch of the schedule. The Kings did pretty much what the Kings have done for the past 13 years - disappoint.
Entering the six-game stretch which featured games against the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento had a chance to strengthen their record in a Western Conference that has not lived up to the maddening hype in the summer.
Instead, they concluded the stretch with a record of 2-4. Here’s a quick recap:
- scraped by the Oklahoma City Thunder by one point in a comeback
- blew a 16 point third quarter lead and lost to the New York Knicks at home
- Blew out the Warriors on the road but had 29 turnovers. If the Warriors were competent, the result could’ve been different.
- Swept by Charlotte on the road with De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III playing
- Loss to Indiana but the Pacers are a really good team despite Victor Oladipo’s absence
- Loss to Memphis where they came out flat and the score doesn’t do the game justice. They were losing by double digits for most of the game.
To be fair to Memphis, they are now 5-3 in their last eight but it doesn’t free the Kings of any excuses, excuses that the Kings are running out of.
Sacramento started off 0-5, which was the worst possible outcome to start a season after the Kings enjoyed their best season under a head coach who was fired over one that was supposed to improve the team.
People started pointing to the trip to India and it seemed fair. The Pacers were winning some games, but they also looked bad and nothing compared to how they currently play.
Sacramento played much better after even after losing De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. They flirted with a .500 record, which after starting 0-5, was extremely difficult to imagine.
There were blunders to teams like Chicago at home and blowing a nine point lead with less than two minutes to go against San Antonio, but they had wins against Boston, Denver, Dallas (road), and Houston (road, on a SEGABABA) without Fox and Bagley.
So if the Kings could do that without their two youngsters, they could’ve beaten teams like Charlotte and Memphis on the road too, right?
But no, Bagley hasn’t practiced a whole lot yet and has to get used to the system along with Fox, eight of their last 10 games have been on the road, Bogdan Bogdanovic has been out the last two games, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes have been in a slump and are not living up to their contracts similar to the offseason signings like Dewayne Dedmon.
There are countless more but it’s getting old. This team hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in 13 years and when they finally have a good run that lasted until March, they fired the coach that got them there and ultimately what this team was built on - speed.
Speed is something that Luke Walton hasn’t enforced but he’s said it’ll come when players are familiar to the system. Well the team isn’t playing well with the system as of late and though it helped keep their nose above the water when Fox and Bagley were out, they need speed now more than ever.
Speed helped Fox make an incredible jump as a player. It helped Hield, a guy who never stops running, get good looks because his legs did the work. It helped the big men run down and get fast break points and it was why they wanted to pair Fox with Bagley. Now that Richaun Holmes has made a name of himself in Sacramento, he’s a guy that can succeed when running with Fox. Not that he’s already succeeding regularly.
It’s still only December. There’s plenty of basketball left but instead of making things easier for themselves in future months, the Kings dropped the ball and dropped themselves to ninth in the West.
The Kings are running out of excuses just like fans are running out of patience. It’s a talented team, but they’re not playing like it and the excuses and moral victories are getting old. They need to start performing well soon to avoid the number 14.