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Sizing up the Kings’ chase for the No. 8 seed

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Richaun Holmes wants the team to have the opportunity to get into the playoffs.

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

We don’t know when, or if the 2019-20 NBA regular season will continue due to the coronavirus outbreak.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn’t foresee games being played with fans through at least the summer, that doesn’t mean we are guaranteed not to see sports back on our televisions in the coming months.

The NBA’s most recent plan to resume includes giving players 11 days to return to individual workouts and work themselves back into shape while sticking with social distancing measures. Teams would then have 14 days to hold training camps before returning to game action.

If the season does resume, the Sacramento Kings will be right in the thick of things to get the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings are tied for ninth, 3.5 games behind the New Orleans Pelicans, the team Sacramento was scheduled to play when the NBA announced the season is postponed back on March 11.

Kings big man Richaun Holmes spoke with The Athletic’s Jason Jones recently and shared his feelings on if he thinks the squad can catch the Grizzlies.

“Most definitely, no doubt about it,” Holmes said. “We were right there. We just want a chance to compete.”

Sacramento won 13-of-20 games heading into the final 18 contests on its schedule to get back in the race. The Kings looked to have found some continuity in terms of rotations and having all of their big guns in the lineup healthy will definitely help.

Here’s how things stand in the hunt for the final playoff spot:

W L GB

8) Grizzlies 32 33 —

9) Trail Blazers 29 37 3.5

10) Pelicans 28 36 3.5

11) Kings 28 36 3.5

12) Spurs 27 36 4.0

Here are how fivethirtyeight.com, ESPN and Basketball Reference rate the teams playoff probabilities:

Race for the No. 8 seed

Team 538 ESPN Basketball Reference
Team 538 ESPN Basketball Reference
Grizzlies 15% 32% 46%
Trail Blazers 14% 10% 6.5%
Pelicans 60% 36% 35%
Kings 9% 9% 7.2%
Spurs 2% 12% 4.6%
Race for the No. 8 seed

The Kings would play 10 out of their final 19 games at home, here is a breakdown of their opponents:

Home: Pelicans, Nets, Mavs, Hawks, Pacers, Spurs, Clippers, Lakers, Cavs, Warriors

Away: Rockets, Magic, Pelicans, Cavs, Spurs, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Lakers

Here is how the five contending teams rank in terms of remaining strength of schedule according to playoffstatus.com (from easiest to hardest)

  1. Pelicans
  2. Trail Blazers
  3. Spurs
  4. Kings
  5. Grizzlies

There would be so many factors at play if the league does resume with this plan. Most of the burden is on the players to continue with workouts while the shutdown is on-going to make sure they’re in game shape whenever the season does resume. A potential bonus for the Sacramento is a healthy Marvin Bagley III, which adds another option for head coach Luke Walton in the front court.

The Kings would play 10 out of their final 18 games at home, here is a breakdown of their opponents:

Home: Pelicans, Nets, Mavs, Hawks, Pacers, Spurs, Clippers, Lakers, Cavs, Warriors

Away: Rockets, Magic, Pelicans, Cavs, Spurs, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Lakers

In my opinion, Sacramento will need to win 13-14 games to give itself a chance to get in.

The obvious takeaway from the Kings’ schedule is the importance of winning the two games against New Orleans and beating San Antonio.

Sacramento would obviously need to beat the bottom feeders, so those games against Cleveland (x2), Golden State and Minnesota are must-wins as well.

Looking at the rest of the opponents, the home games against the Nets, Pacers and Mavs jump out, while on the road beating Orlando also seems essential.

That leaves the Kings with five games against the upper echelon NBA teams. If they can pull off at least two wins, they could give themselves a decent shot.

As I mentioned above, under this plan, expect to see the unexpected. We don’t know how the teams will come out of hiatus and how long it will take them to find their groove.

If the league does return and finishes out the schedule, what percentage do you give the Kings of getting in? How many wins do you think it will take?