Happy New Year?
Looks like we need to shake things up a little...question is, how much is a little? On to the rankings!
The Kings were streaking toward taking control of the 8 seed in the West, but allowed the Blazers and Grizzlies to shoot 48 percent from 3-point range in losses that dropped them back to five games under .500. Rudy Gay has missed eight of the last nine games with a hip injury and the Kings' latest starting lineup (with Ben McLemore and Matt Barnes on the wings) has been a disaster defensively, allowing 133 points per 100 possessions in its five games together. Now, the Kings have the toughest January schedule of the four teams in the mix for the 8 seed in the West, as their seven-game homestand (which starts Wednesday) includes games against the Clippers, Warriors, Cavs and Thunder, and is followed by an eight-game trip.
How will the Kings handle prosperity? It's a valid question yet again for the team sporting the league's second-longest playoff drought (10 seasons and counting). It was just last week in this cyberspace we were lauding Sacramento for taking the lead in the wide-open, uh, "race" for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Since then? The Kings barely squeaked by Philadelphia at home, wasted a fine opportunity to snag a road win in Portland against the Damian Lillard-less Blazers and suffered a 14-point home L to Memphis. A seven-game homestand awaits from Jan. 4-18 ... but they had better capitalize on it with an eight-game road trip to follow from Jan. 20-31.
Sports Illustrated#22 (-4)
Boogie taking Zach Randolph one-on-one for a good 10 seconds after the whistle and then missing a fadeaway jumper perfectly captures the Kings’ considerable franchise ennui in one clip.
The DeMarcus Cousins drama ramps up, they win four straight. They turn the corner and get positive "They're in 8th!" vibes, they lose two straight. The schedule gets brutal later this month. They have zero room for error, and this is a team with a lot of error to make room for.
Rudy Gay has missed 8-of-9 due to injury, and it showed last week in losses to Portland and Memphis — the kinds of wins the Kings need if they are going to be a playoff team. The starting lineup with Ben McLemore and Matt Barnes has struggled, particularly on defense. After playing a big game in Denver Tuesday, the Kings have seven games in a row at home and need to rack up wins to solidify a playoff standing.
Mean Ranking: 19.4