With the 72-game NBA season kicking off on Tuesday and the Kings opening their season against the nuggets on Wednesday, what is your prediction on a final win percentage? Assuming they play all 72 games that is.
Barring a major move (Buddy Hield, Luke Walton, etc.) I think this year’s Kings will be decent. Enough to make the playoffs? Well… I could see a play-in game by the end of the year, but not a top 6 seed. It sounds like many of the top teams will be aggressively resting stars against the perceived weaker teams, and this could give Sacramento a chance to steal a game or two this year that they would not normally win. It is situations like this that could help the overall record more than one might think, but not necessarily an indication that they are better than they are.
Probably the most important thing for a successful campaign though is getting off to a good start. The team cannot afford another 0-5 hole to begin the season and then spend all year trying to dig themselves out of that hole.
De’Aaron Fox will really need to take a major step up in his game – which he could – and become the elite point guard we all saw glimpses of in the bubble (pre-max contract). He is at his best when he drives through the lanes and forces the action for easy hoops, fouls, or kickouts to the perimeter.
Marvin Bagley will need to stay healthy and establish himself as a force down low while learning to play alongside Richaun Holmes and Hassan Whiteside. If the three of them continue to just clog up the middle and prevent Fox from driving to the basket, forcing him to launch bad three after bad three, it will be a long season.
Buddy Hield will need to be a consistent scorer every night, as we cannot have 25 points one night and 8 points the next on 3-of-15 shooting. Some buddy defense would be nice too.
I would like to see Tyrese Haliburton step up as the clear third guard, but I don’t think it is critical to the immediate success of the team. It would just be a nice surprise to finally have a late lottery steal for a change. He will develop his NBA game soon enough.
My 2020-21 prediction: 36-36 and a possible play-in game, but that is about it. There are just too many stronger teams in the West this year. But they are getting older and their days are numbered.
Past Kings season records:
2019-20 31-41 (.431)
2018-19 39-43 (.476)
2017-18 27-55 (.329)