FanPost

5 Reasons The Kings Will Likely Miss The Playoffs This Season

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Many here at STR expected an improved record and a playoff appearance. After beating the Wizards last night the Kings are currently in 9th place, trailing the Grizzlies (30 - 31) by 3 games, edging out the Pelicans (26 - 35), Spurs (26 - 34) and the Suns (24 - 38). Per 538 yesterday the Kings were given a 10% chance of making the playoffs--the same as the Grizzlies while the Spurs had a 2% chance and the Suns less than 1%. Cross referencing ESPN before the results yesterday, the odds are worse for the Kings, giving Memphis a 22.7% chance, Portland a 22.2% chance, San Antonio a 13.4%, and Sacramento a 9.7% chance of making the playoffs. When you look at the last ten games, the Kings have won 7 of 10, while over that same stretch the Grizzlies and Suns have only won 4 and the Trailblazers and Spurs have only won 3. So despite the recent trend that suggests the Kings might be the most likely to make the playoffs, why does it appear they have the worse odds to beat out other teams for the coveted 8th seed? I looked at the Kings over this last season I came up with 5 reasons why it looks problematic for the Kings to break their playoff drought this year.

De'Aaron Fox's Health - De'Aaron is likely the most important player on the Kings roster and his injuries, including an ankle that held him out 18 games and the more recent shoulder and abdominal issues have not helped. This possibly accounts for some of his regression this season. Fox is shooting just 67.8%, from the free throw line and an abysmal 31.4% from behind the arc. Fox is slightly down on steals, blocks, while committing more fouls and turnovers. His assist numbers rank currently between Lorenzo Ball and Spencer Dinwiddie for 15th in the League. Simply put, the team needs Fox to be the best version of himself this year to sneak into the playoffs and likely average around 20/8/5 with at least 2 steals per game while being dependable behind the arc and at the charity stripe.

The Schedule - Looking at the Kings' remaining games it does not look easy to move up in the standings. The positives point to the Kings 13 remaining games at home versus only 9 on the road and only 2 back to back games. One will be a quick hop from Orlando to New Orleans. The negatives are many. So far they are only 13 - 15 at the Golden 1 Center while 13 - 19 on the road. While I would love to presume that the Kings will stay hot, I just cannot see how when looking at the schedule. I think even if you trade a couple losses for wins I think the team will need to win both games against the Pelicans, take one from the Lakers, Clippers, and Nuggets. Not impossible but its just as likely that the team trades a few wins for losses with the Trail Blazers, Magic, and Spurs. Splitting the difference I have the Kings ending up with a 39 - 43 record as you will see in my schedule results table below.

The Teams Above Them - Certainly the Suns and Spurs could jump ahead of the Kings, I focused on the more likely scenario that one of Memphis, Portland and New Orleans would have to sputter in order for the Kings to make the playoffs. Memphis has the greatest chance of sliding down. They have a really tough schedule the last month of the season including 11 road games and 14 games against playoff teams and the rest against the cluster still vying for the last spot. I predict they fade and finish 36 - 46. Portland I expect to be right there until the end; I have them finishing 37 - 45 but could end up nabbing the last spot if they can handle a brutal 6 game road trip that includes the Pistons, 76ers, Celtics, and Nets. My biggest fear is the New Orleans Pelicans with the now 300 pound super rookie Zion Williamson. He is an absolute beast and should feast on the 7 cellar dweller games they will face. I expect they will beat the Kings in the standings and finish 40 - 42. I took a shot at showing how I deduced these records in a table below.

Luke Walton - While I was a fan of the Walton hire (not the process nor the off-court issues), I am befuddled by some of his coaching decisions. Why was Buddy initiating the offense so much and why were so few plays calling for him to run around off ball where his ability to create space off screens put him in good spots to score. Where were the Curry double screens? I did not understand why Dedmond was't better utilized in a transition offense. I was patient given the injuries that it would take longer to assess what this team had going for itself but the team's pace is 26th, its DRtg is 21st, and ORtg is 18th. Despite having elite shooting from distance the Kings are only 10th in 3PAs per game. Despite the value of drawing fouls the Kings are 28th in the league in FTAs and passing a staple of the Divac era doesn't seem to be their strength as they are currently 28th in the league in APG. While I would like to see a season with the core team intact to better evaluate things, it is quite troubling how the team is operating under this coaching staff and without better values in several of these categories, I don't see how the Kings surpass Memphis, Portland, and New Orleans with better coached teams in their fight for the final playoff spot.

X-Factors - The final issue in the way of the Kings getting into the playoffs is how they play in close games. As a team they have been in 34 clutch games and have a record of 17 - 17. If they want to make the playoffs they will need to win more of those winnable games. As a team they are shooting 76.4% of their free throws good for 19th in the league while attempting only 20.2 free throws which ranks 28th. They need to do a better job of attacking the basket, drawing fouls and converting. Conversely they need to do a better job of not committing fouls as they are currently ranked 25th at 21.8 per game. Finally I have witnessed too many big leads given up and to many times where they trailed by double digits this season. Overall the team's lack of consistency makes it a hard to team to bet on making the post season. While I will be rooting for every win down the stretch, the team will have to play its best ball of the year for the next month, something we haven't seen over that long of a stretch in years.

Note: Edited on 3/04/2020

Kings Schedule
G# Date Team W L
61 Tue, Mar 3, 2020 Washington Wizards W 27 34
62 Thu, Mar 5, 2020 Philadelphia 76ers L 27 35
63 Sat, Mar 7, 2020 @ Portland Trail Blazers W 28 35
64 Sun, Mar 8, 2020 Toronto Raptors L 28 36
65 Wed, Mar 11, 2020 New Orleans Pelicans W 29 36
66 Sun, Mar 15, 2020 Brooklyn Nets W 30 36
67 Tue, Mar 17, 2020 Dallas Mavericks L 30 37
68 Thu, Mar 19, 2020 @ Houston Rockets L 30 38
69 Sat, Mar 21, 2020 @ Orlando Magic W 31 38
70 Sun, Mar 22, 2020 @ New Orleans Pelicans L 31 39
71 Tue, Mar 24, 2020 @ Cleveland Cavaliers W 32 39
72 Thu, Mar 26, 2020 Atlanta Hawks W 33 39
73 Sun, Mar 29, 2020 Indiana Pacers W 34 39
74 Tue, Mar 31, 2020 San Antonio Spurs W 35 39
75 Thu, Apr 2, 2020 Los Angeles Clippers L 35 40
76 Sat, Apr 4, 2020 Los Angeles Lakers L 35 41
77 Sun, Apr 5, 2020 Cleveland Cavaliers W 36 41
78 Tue, Apr 7, 2020 @ San Antonio Spurs W 37 41
79 Thu, Apr 9, 2020 @ Minnesota Timberwolves W 38 41
80 Sat, Apr 11, 2020 @ Denver Nuggets L 38 42
81 Tue, Apr 14, 2020 @ Los Angeles Lakers L 38 43
82 Wed, Apr 15, 2020 Golden State Warriors W 39 43
Grizzles Schedule
62 Wed, Mar 4, 2020 @ Brooklyn Nets W 31 31
63 Fri, Mar 6, 2020 @ Dallas Mavericks L 31 32
64 Sat, Mar 7, 2020 Atlanta Hawks W 32 32
65 Tue, Mar 10, 2020 Orlando Magic W 33 32
66 Thu, Mar 12, 2020 @ Portland Trail Blazers L 33 33
67 Sat, Mar 14, 2020 @ Utah Jazz L 33 34
68 Mon, Mar 16, 2020 @ San Antonio Spurs L 33 35
69 Tue, Mar 17, 2020 Oklahoma City Thunder L 33 36
70 Thu, Mar 19, 2020 @ Milwaukee Bucks L 33 37
71 Sat, Mar 21, 2020 New Orleans Pelicans W 34 37
72 Tue, Mar 24, 2020 @ New Orleans Pelicans L 34 38
73 Wed, Mar 25, 2020 Boston Celtics L 34 39
74 Sat, Mar 28, 2020 Toronto Raptors L 34 40
75 Mon, Mar 30, 2020 @ Toronto Raptors L 34 41
76 Wed, Apr 1, 2020 New York Knicks W 35 41
77 Fri, Apr 3, 2020 Dallas Mavericks W 36 41
78 Sun, Apr 5, 2020 @ Portland Trail Blazers L 36 42
79 Tue, Apr 7, 2020 @ Denver Nuggets L 36 43
80 Sat, Apr 11, 2020 Oklahoma City Thunder L 36 44
81 Mon, Apr 13, 2020 Philadelphia 76ers L 36 45
82 Wed, Apr 15, 2020 @ Houston Rockets L 36 46
Trail Blazers Schedule
63 Wed, Mar 4, 2020 Washington Wizards W 27 34
64 Fri, Mar 6, 2020 @ Phoenix Suns W 28 34
65 Sat, Mar 7, 2020 Sacramento Kings L 28 35
66 Tue, Mar 10, 2020 Phoenix Suns W 29 35
67 Thu, Mar 12, 2020 Memphis Grizzlies W 30 35
68 Sun, Mar 15, 2020 Houston Rockets L 30 36
69 Tue, Mar 17, 2020 Minnesota Timberwolves W 31 36
70 Thu, Mar 19, 2020 Dallas Mavericks L 31 37
71 Sun, Mar 22, 2020 @ Minnesota Timberwolves W 32 37
72 Tue, Mar 24, 2020 @ Charlotte Hornets W 33 37
73 Wed, Mar 25, 2020 @ Detroit Pistons L 33 38
74 Fri, Mar 27, 2020 @ Boston Celtics L 33 39
75 Sun, Mar 29, 2020 @ Philadelphia 76ers L 33 40
76 Mon, Mar 30, 2020 @ Brooklyn Nets L 33 41
77 Thu, Apr 2, 2020 Utah Jazz W 34 41
78 Sun, Apr 5, 2020 Memphis Grizzlies W 35 41
79 Tue, Apr 7, 2020 Cleveland Cavaliers W 36 41
80 Thu, Apr 9, 2020 Denver Nuggets L 36 42
81 Mon, Apr 13, 2020 @ Golden State Warriors W 37 42
82 Wed, Apr 15, 2020 Los Angeles Clippers L 37 43
Pelicans Schedule
61 Tue, Mar 3, 2020 Minnesota Timberwolves L 26 35
62 Wed, Mar 4, 2020 @ Dallas Mavericks L 26 36
63 Fri, Mar 6, 2020 Miami Heat W 27 36
64 Sun, Mar 8, 2020 @ Minnesota Timberwolves W 28 36
65 Wed, Mar 11, 2020 @ Sacramento Kings L 28 37
66 Fri, Mar 13, 2020 @ Utah Jazz L 28 38
67 Sat, Mar 14, 2020 @ Los Angeles Clippers L 28 39
68 Mon, Mar 16, 2020 Atlanta Hawks W 29 39
69 Wed, Mar 18, 2020 San Antonio Spurs W 30 39
70 Sat, Mar 21, 2020 @ Memphis Grizzlies L 30 40
71 Sun, Mar 22, 2020 Sacramento Kings W 31 40
72 Tue, Mar 24, 2020 Memphis Grizzlies W 32 40
73 Fri, Mar 27, 2020 New York Knicks W 33 40
74 Sun, Mar 29, 2020 @ Orlando Magic W 34 40
75 Tue, Mar 31, 2020 @ Atlanta Hawks W 35 40
76 Wed, Apr 1, 2020 @ Washington Wizards L 35 41
77 Sun, Apr 5, 2020 @ San Antonio Spurs W 36 41
78 Tue, Apr 7, 2020 Charlotte Hornets W 37 41
79 Thu, Apr 9, 2020 Phoenix Suns W 38 41
80 Sat, Apr 11, 2020 Philadelphia 76ers L 38 42
81 Mon, Apr 13, 2020 Washington Wizards W 39 42
82 Wed, Apr 15, 2020 @ San Antonio Spurs W 40 42

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)