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Kings vs Warriors Preview: Progress

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Forget that other P word - the main thing that matters from now until mid-April is progress.

Kimani Okearah

The Sacramento Kings have won 8 of their last 12 contests, and now head to San Francisco for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors, losers of 6 straight and holders of the NBA’s worst record at 12-45. This is a contest that the Kings really should win... arguably, it’s the first game in that 13 game stretch where Sacramento should be considered solid favorites. Every game from here until April will tell us something about the future of this Kings team, but one thing that should matter above all else is an eight letter word that starts with P and ends in S—a mythical word that symbolizes what Kings fans have wanted more than anything else for the last 13 cursed years—progress.

Let’s talk Kings basketball.

When: Tuesday, February 25th, 7:30 PST

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

First, the Warriors; their return to relevance is 8 months away, regardless of when Steph Curry puts back on a game jersey. But they’ve improved themselves this season and done a decent job of setting themselves up for next season; they’ll end up with a top 4-5 selection in this draft class, and have spent the season trying out a bunch of young role players to see who is worth keeping around for next years’ inevitable return to glory.

The Andrew Wiggins/D’Angelo Russell swap was the biggest decision of them all, and while I defended the Russell experiment months ago, making the trade was the right call for the Warriors (especially when they got themselves the Timberwolves 2021 1st round pick). Wiggins is a more natural positional fit next to Curry and Klay Thompson, and the Warriors offer Wiggins something he’s never had before—a chance to not be the star. Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Draymond Green, and *insert dedicated journeyman center not named Trill here* will be tough to handle next season, and that’s before we even talk about who they add with that draft pick. The Warriors current starting lineup doesn’t look anything like that; guys like Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, and Damion Lee are getting starter minutes, but are really playing for playing time next October.

The Kings should take these winnable Warriors games while they can. Sacramento needs to continue building off the last few games of offensive competence, defensive competitiveness, and all-around progress. De’Aaron Fox’s all-around game (aside from free throw shooting) is showing progress. Harry Giles, the wonderful, glorious, unrestricted free-agent-to-be, is showing great progress. Buddy Hield returned to the bench and is showing progress. The Harrison Barnes we saw post trade-deadline last season is returning to form thanks to his Samsonite beard. Hell, Kent Bazemore—on his third roster in less than 12 months—suddenly looks like the long-term veteran wing defender the Kings have been trying to find for a decade. After months and months of offseason hype, the Kings spent the majority of the season reminding us that progress is never a given in the NBA. It’s a disgustingly low bar for a professional sports franchise, but let’s be satisfied with progress.

Forget that other P word - the Kings are four games back in the loss column of the 8th seeded Grizzlies, but there are three teams—San Antonio, Portland, and New Orleans (ZIONN!!!!)—in between Sacramento and Memphis who have better rosters, better coaching staffs, and just as many reasons to fight for late-April basketball. The only thing that matters for Sacramento from now until the Kings and Warriors face off in the final game of the season on April 15 is progress—who are these Kings, who can they be next year, and should the gentlemen in charge remain in charge next year?

Prediction

The Kings play hard, continue finding good shots, and take advantage of a bad team.

Kings 115, Warriors 93