Prior to the pandemic-induced NBA suspension, the Sacramento Kings were one of the hottest teams the league. We've been discussing the same ten things over the last three months, so I'm sure you're familiar with the talking points by now - the Kings have won 7 of their last 10 games, and sit just 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies and the 8-seed in the Western Conference.
I'm self aware enough to realize that celebrating the fact that you're only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot is silly, but when you've lost as much as the Kings have lost over the last 13 years, you take what you can get. The Kings were playing reasonably well and making a legitimate playoff push.
The NBA has recently announced its plans to return, and thus the Kings will resume their playoff push in Orlando at the end of July in the Disney Bubble League. They'll have 8 games to secure the 8th or 9th seed in the west and earn a spot in the short playoff play-in series. Aside from the Grizzlies, the Kings essentially have as good of a shot as anyone else.
ESPN's forecast panel of NBA experts isn't giving the Kings that kind of respect.
Zion Williamson and the Pelicans were the favorites here in our March forecast, but now it looks like a tight race between New Orleans, Portland and Memphis.
Even though the Blazers are 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies (currently in the No. 8 spot), a couple of things help their case: Injured big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are expected to return, and the NBA using win percentage gives them an edge in tiebreakers.
Given the parity here, a play-in series looks likely.
Notably missing from that short list of competing teams is the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings. The Suns currently sit 6 games out of the 8-seed in the Western Conference, and with just 8 games remaining, they undoubtedly have a tougher road ahead of them. The Kings, on the other hand, have a better record than the Spurs.
In fairness to ESPN's panel of experts, if they are being polled in a way where they can only submit one prediction for the 8-seed and one prediction for the 9-seed, I wouldn't give a nod to the Sacramento Kings, either. But I'm not going to let semantics get in the way of perfectly good bulletin board material heading into the most important 8 games the Kings have played in over a decade.
How I feel about this incredibly minor offense doesn't really matter, anyway. It's infinitely more interesting that the Sacramento Kings are seeing it as a clear sign of disrespect, and I love that.
I think I speak for everyone when I say nothing would make us happier than the Kings proving both ESPN and myself wrong. Go make the playoffs, Kings, I dare you.