The NBA season is winding down and that means the pressure to get the remaining playoff spots is increasing with every passing day. The most interesting scenarios that we will see play out is which team wins the eighth seed in the west.
The Memphis Grizzlies currently hold the seed with a 29-31 record. Right behind the Grizz are New Orleans and Sacramento, both of which have a 26-34 record. There has been so much coverage of the Pelicans chase of the last playoff spot and I feel that the Kings have been overlooked considering their play as of late.
Obviously this has a lot to do with the sensation of Zion and the Pelicans exciting young core in addition to the Kings having just one nationally televised game compared to New Orleans' thirty games.
Sacramento is now demanding respect as a real threat to break into the playoff race. They leapfrogged other 8 seed favorite Portland and San Antonio. They Have a talented young core of De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Bogdan Bogdanović (this is also excluding Marvin Bagley, who is currently out with a foot injury for a few weeks.
A big reason that New Orleans is a favorite to take win this race is their strength of schedule. According to Tankathon, Memphis has the 4th most difficult remaining schedule in the league while the Pelicans have the easiest schedule. The Kings have the 20th hardest schedule remaining.
That being said, Sacramento’s play has drawn my attention. Even with Bagley gone, Harry Giles has answered the call and stepped up in his absence. His scoring and rebounding presence has been vital in the steady success to make up for Bagley's production.
De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield continue to be a promising backcourt for this Kings team. They both are consistent scorers this season (with the exception of Fox's dip in outside shooting efficiency) and Fox is a special playmaker. His speed and vision as a passer is exactly what you want as the facilitator for this team.
I expressed my disappointment in this years team earlier in the season. Last years squad was so promising and I had been expecting a huge leap from the team into perennial contention. The year started off rough, but what matters now is that they have the ability to reach the playoffs, a feat that the franchise has not achieved since 2007.
The Kings are exciting now, something you couldn’t say about them for a long time. I have hope for them this season to show what they can do and possibly go out and take that last spot for themselves. As much as I want to see Zion in the playoffs, having De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield battle it out with the top seed does not sound like a bad deal to me.