Before the NBA indefinitely suspended its season, the Sacramento Kings were on a roll. After the All-Star break, the Kings had the fourth-best record in the NBA (7-3), the eighth-best offensive rating (113.2), 11th-best defensive rating (110.1) and eighth-best net rating (3.1).
Their inspired play put them in the conversation for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. As it stands, 3.5 games separate the Kings from the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies — the same number of games that the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans trail by. Despite this, the Kings were snubbed from ESPN’s playoff projections on Wednesday, and the Trail Blazers and Pelicans weren’t.
Here’s how ESPN’s NBA insiders voted:
Given the parity here, a play-in series looks likely.
Portland Trail Blazers: 35.3%
Memphis Grizzlies: 32.4%
New Orleans Pelicans: 29.4%
San Antonio Spurs: 2.9%
A fan took note of the Kings’ omission from the article (they’re not even mentioned) and pointed it out to De’Aaron Fox.
Damn we have an absolute 0% chance couldn’t even get a mention https://t.co/A6MVBf6L8U— De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) June 10, 2020
Now, it’s entirely possible that the people that voted completely forgot that the Kings were even in the running, but that speaks to an entirely different issue. It’s also possible that the voters gave an edge to teams with All-Star players, but even then, there’s no reason that the Spurs should have a higher chance to clinch the No. 8 seed than the Kings — and that was true even before it was announced that LaMarcus Aldridge would miss the remainder of the season.
Either way, it’s safe to assume the Kings will use this as fuel for the fire. If no one sees them coming, they’ll have the element of surprise working in their favor.