The NBA’s plan to restart the 2019-20 season in Orlando is moving full steam ahead. Despite some early roadblocks, it looks as if things will resume as scheduled on July 30, and with eight games left to qualify for the play-in tournament, the Sacramento Kings have their best chance to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Harrison Barnes, who’s been with the Kings since last season, is looking forward to the challenge of helping Sacramento back to the postseason, and during a conference call with reporters on Friday, the former NBA champion opened up about the energy around the team before they make the trip to Orlando.
“I think everyone’s hungry and ready to play. Guys are excited about the opportunity to finish our season,” Barnes said. ”We felt like we were hitting our stride [before the shutdown], we’re ready to go.”
Barnes is averaging 14.7 points, and 4.8 rebounds per game, while shooting an impressive 38.3% from the 3-point line. Although Sacramento was struggling through the middle of the season, it turned things around just before the hiatus began on March 11.
The Kings went 13-7 over their last 20 games to get within 3.5 games of the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Sacramento — like every other team participating in Orlando — will face unprecedented challenges being in the bubble, but Barnes believes being sequestered in one place might be a good thing.
“I think it will be good for us because that focus element is there. We’re there for one reason: to play basketball,” Barnes said. “We’re going to use that time effectively off the court to promote social justice, but I think the biggest thing for us is that we’ll be able to lock in.”
Spending an extended time away from family will also be a huge factor. After spending months in isolation with their loved ones, players will be asked to stay away from family for up to three months.
“There’s no way around the fact that this is a sacrifice. Whether you’re being away from your family, whether you’re not going to be able to see your parents, your siblings, whatever it may be,” Barnes said. “And not having an end date too, definitely adds an extra bit of focus to you, that if you’re going to be away from your family for this long, you want to make it work, you want to make it something that you’re completely locked in and focused on and giving your all to, or else it’s a waste of time.”
Even with all of the challenges, the 28-year-old remains focused on the task at hand — the Kings want to make sure they’re staying in Orlando for lengthy period of time.
“At the end of the day, we have an opportunity to go out there and play. As a player that’s what you want,” said No. 40. “We have eight games to prove our worth. At that point, we let the chips fall where they may.”
On to some links:
It’s been a long time since Sacramento played a playoff game. The Athletic’s Jason Jones looks back at the last 13 seasons, and how this is the best opportunity for the Kings to get back to the postseason.
Who will be the most important Kings player in Orlando? FanSided’s Rafe Wong says the team will only go as far as De’Aaron Fox takes them.
It’s easy to forget that veteran point guard Rajon Rondo spent a season with Sacramento. Kentucky Sports Radio’s Zach Geoghegan revisited the 2015-16 campaign, and how it all played out for Rondo.