One can make the valid argument that the Sacramento Kings have been at full strength only twice this season: in the season opener (before Marvin Bagley’s thumb injury) and in Orlando, where the Kings will join 21 other teams in the race to the postseason.
The fact that Sacramento was invited is a testament to their stellar play before the season was halted, and it coincides with having their most healthy roster at their disposal.
Back when Sacramento was last on the court, the Kings were 13-7 in their last 20 games, De’Aaron Fox was in peak form, Buddy Hield was as efficient as ever coming off the bench, and the team was finally set to welcome back their most consistent player of the season in Richaun Holmes. The ongoing health crisis halted that momentum.
But now as the remainder of the NBA season shifts to Orlando, Sacramento has the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the assist thrown their way. While other teams such as the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs have recently lost key players due to season-ending surgery, the Kings are on the opposite end of the spectrum: coming back at full strength.
Richaun Holmes is set to return and is more motivated than ever to suit up once again at the center spot. The biggest recipient of the time off has to be Marvin Bagley, who was limited to just 13 games all season due to a thumb injury suffered in the season opener.
If there was ever a time to quiet the noise regarding his potential, now is the time, with a shot at breaking the league’s longest postseason drought within reach.
One of the x-factors for all teams invited to Orlando has to be conditioning. Even with the allotted time meant as a "training camp," it’s safe to say it will take a while for players to get back into form. This is where the Kings, and namely De’Aaron Fox, should be primed to reap the benefits.
After being among the top teams in pace a season ago, it’s time for Fox and the rest of the Kings to run by their opponents. With eight games and a consolidated schedule dedicated to playoff seeding, now is the time for Sacramento to outrun and tire out the teams standing in their way. Play as if you have nothing to lose, because well, that’s exactly the matter of fact.
As De’Aaron Fox duly noted, ESPN gives the Kings a whopping 0% chance at making a run for the final playoff spot in the West. Media outlets may have lost their memory during the time off, as Sacramento was performing as one of if not the best team right before the season was suspended.
There is so much uncertainty as the NBA heads to Orlando, and it’s the perfect setting to upend any sense of certainty. Imagine the reactions should the Kings face off against the Lakers in the first round, after ESPN was so quick to write off Sacramento.