Written By: Tom Witt
Blog: TomTooWitty Sports Blog
The NBA is BACK!
The NBA is coming back July 31st, after much discussion about what would be the best way to ‘return to play’ for the NBA. The Sacramento Kings are one of the final twenty two teams invited to DisneyWorld Resort in Orlando, Florida to play for a chance to make the playoffs!
- Read ahead for more information on the NBA’s return to play!
- Stats, analysis and opinion on the Kings return to play.
- The Kings ‘good’ problem of having two starting caliber shooting guards.
- Impact players POTENTIALLY returning from injury!
The Kings Are In!
For weeks, the talking heads and decision makers kicked around a number of different scenarios for return to play.
The powers that be ended up coming to a solution, which is outlined below by ESPN’s Adrian ‘Woj’ Wojnarowski.
And the solution that was approved by the NBA was music to Sacramento Kings fan’s ears.
So You’re Sayin’ There’s A Chance?
According to ESPN, the top 16 teams in the Eastern and Western conferences will be joined by teams currently within six games of eighth place in the two conferences — New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix and Washington, sources said. (ESPN Sources: NBA to approve plan for 22-team return with eight regular-season games)
Return to Play Format
“Each of the 22 teams would play 8 regular season games in the bubble, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, teams will have the opportunity to participate in a play-in tournament for the 8th seed in their respective conferences, based on how they finish the regular season.”
The play-in tournament will include the No. 8 and No. 9 teams — if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth, sources said. In that case, the No. 8 seed enters a double-elimination tournament, and the No. 9 seed a single-elimination tournament, sources said.”
Kings POTENTIAL Opponents
The NBA determined it will ‘resume’ the regular season with the ‘remaining’ schedule for each team.
Per a report from Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, each team’s schedule will consist of the next eight games they were originally slated to play.
The games that involve teams who will not be in Orlando will be skipped over for the next available matchup.
Kings Playoff Hiatus
Sacramento has a chance to make the playoffs, legitimately, for the first time in OVER A DECADE!
The Kings currently hold the longest current playoff-less streak in the NBA …. Fourteen LONG seasons.
2006 NBA Playoffs – Kings Kevin Martin Beats Buzzer To Sink Spurs
Start Buddy or Bogi? … A ‘GOOD’ Problem to Have
The Kings started the 2019-20 season injured, and not quite performing up to their pre-season expectations.
A change was needed, and imminent.
Since 1/24, when Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton decided to move Buddy to the bench, the Kings have sported a 13-7.
Arguably this has been their best stretch of the season. Which has also been aided by a return of a healthy and improved De’Aaron Fox.
This shows that Sacramento can win with Hield in the mix… though, it may be important what order Chef Walton mixes him into the recipe.
Will Coach Walton continue to start Bogi over Buddy?
Will starters be based on who is ‘hotter’?
Or will starters be based on match-ups?
Great Teams Need Great Bench Players
Most great teams need someone other than their starting five to play like a starter.
Toni Kukoc of the famed Chicago Bulls 90’s era teams, featured on the ESPN docu-series, “The Last Dance”, was a pivotal player in the Bulls second NBA championship 3-peat.
The Spurs championship runs featured future hall of famer, smooth lefty, Manu Ginobili, coming off the bench.
Great Sacramento Kings teams of the past featured bench players like Bobby Jackson, who won 2003-04 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, and other starting caliber bench players like Hedo Turkoglu.
Even NBA scoring machine James Harden once won the 6th man award for the Oklahoma City Thunder, during the 2011-12 season. The same season that OKC made it to the NBA finals but lost to LeBron and the Miami Heat 4-1.
Players don’t need to start the game to have a huge impact on the outcome.
Coach Luke Walton Speaks – Impact Buddy Hield Can Make Off the Bench –
“Even with Buddy (coming off the bench), he was still playing starter minutes, he was still finishing certain games, and it’s one of those things where if you’re truly bought into being on the team, you end up accepting it because that’s a huuuggee value.
I mean, you look at Ginobili with the Spurs, you look at Lamar with our Lakers teams, Steve did it with Andre up in Golden State. So you need starter caliber players kind of playing with that second group a lot of times. And I thought Buddy had really, really done a nice job of embracing that and making our team better.” – Luke Walton, Kings Head Coach“Walton weighs in: Buddy, Bogi, Kings growth and a season (somewhat) saved”, 4/28/2020, Sam Amick, The Athletic, https://theathletic.com/1780069/2020/04/28/walton-weighs-in-buddy-bogey-kings-growth-and-a-season-somewhat-saved/?source=dailyemail
Hield’s Reaction to New Bench Role
Buddy Hield is one of the major keys to the Sacramento Kings success.
And in some fans minds, to their lack of success, at times.
Buddy has been vocal about his displeasure in the past with his lack of minutes, especially in crunch time situations.
When asked about how Hield responded to being told about his move to the bench Coach Walton stated,
“Walton weighs in: Buddy, Bogi, Kings growth and a season (somewhat) saved”, 4/28/2020, Sam Amick, The Athletic, https://theathletic.com/1780069/2020/04/28/walton-weighs-in-buddy-bogey-kings-growth-and-a-season-somewhat-saved/?source=dailyemail
“Buddy was not happy about not starting, but he didn’t bitch. He said, ‘You’re the coach. I’m going to do what I need to do.’”
Numbers Never Lie…
Hield IMPROVES with Move to the Bench
According to NBA.com advanced stats, during Buddy Hield’s 20 games off the bench he was second on the team in points per game, with 19.4, only behind De’Aaron Fox.
This was all while shooting an INTER-STELLAR 47.9% from three point range, on a whopping 9.3 attempts per game!
Buddy’s 2019-20 Season Stats
In 64 games played before the COVID-19 hiatus, Buddy started 44.
Hield’s per game averages – 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, while shooting 42.9% FG, 39.5% from 3PT range and 85.5% from the free throw line. Basketball-Reference Buddy Hield Stats
Bogi’s Stats Since Moving To Starter
In his third NBA season, Bogdanovic is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game off the bench for Sacramento.
He is the Kings’ most versatile player, one of the better playmakers on the roster, and has championship experience.
Since being moved to starter on January 24th, Bogi has played well!
While averaging 29 minutes per game, he is scoring 14.5 points per game on 45% field goal shooting, 81% free throw shooting, 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals and only 1.1 turnovers per game.
Compared to Hield, Bogi also brings better defense, passing, ball handing, as well as court awareness and imagination.
Bogi’s Championship History
Before bringing his talents to NorCal, Bogdanović became a professional hooper in 2010 at age 18 in Europe.
At the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Bogdanović solidified himself as the best player on the Serbian national team.
During the tournament, Bogi averaged 22.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists over 8 games, while shooting 55.6% from the field and 53% from the three-point line.
For his performances, he was selected to the FIBA Basketball World Cup All-Tournament Team. With 183 points scored throughout the tournament, he was the FIBA Basketball World Cup Top Scorer by total points scored.
No ‘Superstar’ No Problem!
Kings Embrace Deep Rotation
Coach Walton doesn’t have a superstar to turn to (YET, says Fox…), but he does have a DEEP team.
Sacramento is fortunate enough to employ two starting caliber shooting guards. A GREAT problem to have.
Players such as Harrison Barnes and Kent Bazemore both have playoff and championship experience.
Time Off Means Time To Heal From Injuries
This break will HOPEFULLY give the ailing Kings a chance to mend up some of their injured players.
Players like Richaun Holmes, who was arguably the Kings MVP so far this season.
The fully healthy return of a MUCH improved and confident De’Aaron Fox.
As well as ‘what-ifs’ like Marvin Bagley, who looked good in his brief return, when running next to Fox.
How will coach Walton utilize his ‘new’ roster?
After looking at the Kings schedule, I think they will finish 4-4, and 5-3 best case.
They need to win the games against teams whom they are close in the standings to – Pelicans (twice), Nets, Magic, Pacers, Spurs.
It would also REALLY help the Kings if they are able to take one of the games against the teams they aren’t really ‘close’ to – Rockets, Mavericks.
I think that Bogi will remain a starter for the beginning of the season restart.
In my opinion, the end of game minutes and majority of minutes will be determined by
- Who is ‘hotter’
De’Aaron Fox Confident in Teammates
“I just think they’re both playing at a high level,” Fox said. “No one put their head down when the roles were reversed. They’ve just come ready to play. Buddy’s been a great spark for us off the bench. I think that’s all there is to it. Everybody’s playing well right now and we’re just trying to keep that up.”https://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/article239941923.html
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Read Previous Articles By SpikeballTom:
1. The NBA is back – and it’s sending 22 teams to Orlando, 6/3/20, FOX Sports, https://www.foxsports.com/nba/story/nba-return-22-teams-orlando-lebron-james-lakers-kawhi-leonard-clipers-060320
2. Sources: NBA to approve plan for 22-team return with eight regular-season games, 6/3/20, Adrian Wojnarowski, https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29260860/sources-nba-approve-plan-22-team-return-eight-regular-season-games