One quarter of the NBA season has already come and gone for the Sacramento Kings.
At 7-13, the Kings are just 3.5 games out of the seemingly elusive 8th spot in the Western Conference standings. Sadly, they are also just 3.5 games out of having the worst record in all of the NBA.
Twenty games have been played and what have we learned about the 2016-2017 Sacramento Kings?
Let me start with some good things:
DeMarcus Cousins scoring ability has taken an even bigger climb. He is now in the top three of the NBA in PPG and his talent has now spread consistently outside the 3-point line as the best deep threat on the team.
Rudy Gay was clearly injured last season and his explosiveness is back. He is still a gifted scorer and now his complimentary numbers are up too.
The sweep of the Toronto Raptors appears unexplainable but still impressive. Plus, the first ever win at Golden 1 Center was an 18-point comeback against the Minnesota Timberwolves and had quite the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the list of bad things in the first 20 is much longer:
The team continues to start slowly. This constant theme has forced them to battle back but ultimately fall short. Games with the Lakers, Boston and New York all felt like games the Kings really should have won. Those three heartbreaks aren’t even taking into effect the three overtime losses. Games at Miami, Portland and Washington all ended after 5 extra minutes and all ended with a big L.
The Kings’ 3-point defense against the Rockets set a record, but not in a good way. The 3-point differential continues to be a nightly stat that the Kings are on the wrong end of.
Quite possibly one of the worst thing about the first 20 games is the fact that the Kings haven’t found their true identity, or even all of their roles just yet. It usually takes some time, but I thought there would be a little more clarity by now.
Guard play has been the most inconsistent amongst the roster. Plus, the (amazing) new building known as the Golden 1 Center has produced just a 4-5 record for the Kings. That is a number that has to improve as the season rolls along.
Some have said the schedule has been a difficult start for the Kings. I am not one of those people.
Not to be an alarmist, but check out this journey in a few weeks:
Starting Jan. 6, the Kings will have a homestand with the Clippers, Warriors, Pistons, Cavaliers, Thunder and Pacers. Following that, the Kings hit the road for the Grizzlies, Bulls, Pistons, Cavaliers, Pacers, Hornets, and Rockets. That is six at home followed by seven on the road all against teams at .500 or above.
There is also some speculation that the make up game for the 76ers could be added on to the end of that seven-game journey. That gauntlet will be extremely difficult for the Kings.
Twenty games do not tell the entire story for the season, but it can reveal a few clues as to how it may go. This team has showed some potential, but it has been very frustrating too.
They are right in the middle in a lot of categories – no-man’s land is a bad spot to be in the NBA. The biggest question now for the Kings is which way will they go?