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NBA Playoff Play-In and the Sacramento Kings

The NBA playoff play-in and the Sacramento Kings are becoming synonymous! Which is one of the only upsides, and to some folks … downsides … of the Sacramento Kings over last season and this season.

Ahead, I will provide a bit more information on the structure of the NBA Playoff Play-In and the Sacramento Kings chances at breaking their 15-year playoff drought!

NBA Playoff ‘Play-In’

The NBA added a playoff ‘play-in’ during the modified 2019-20 season.

NBA.com released a Playoff Play-In FAQ outlining the formatting for this current season.

“At the conclusion of the regular season but before the first round of the playoffs, the team with the 7th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 8th-highest winning percentage in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will earn the No. 7 seed.

The team with the 9th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 10th-highest winning percentage in the “Nine-Ten Game”.

The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game in each conference will earn the No. 8 seed.”

The play-in is great in many aspects, in my opinion. Simply put, there are more meaningful playoff games for fans to watch.

Also, there is more reason for teams outside of the 8th seed to play hard to the finish of the season, and not ‘tank’. Overall, I think it makes for a more competitive and fun to watch NBA!

NBA Playoff Play-In and the Sacramento Kings

As of Sunday 3/28/2021, the Sacramento Kings have a record of 21-25. They have gone 7-3 over their previous 10 games, and have won four straight.

In the NBA western conference standings, the Kings currently sit at 11th place, only 1 game back of the 10th seed Golden State Warriors (22-24) and 1.5 games back of the 9th seed Memphis Grizzlies (21-22).

Sacramento Kings basketball is really fun to watch right now. Kings general manager Monte McNair thinks so too, as he mentioned in his post-trade deadline press conference on Friday.

Deadline Dealin’, Culture Buildin’

The Kings made a few trade deadline deals to aid in a playoff play-in push this season, and to continue building a sustainable CULTURE going forward.

Welcome to Sactown Delon Wright, Terence Davis, Mo Harkless, Chris Silva.

These new players add depth, versatility, defense, and shooting capability to the Sacramento Kings roster. It will be FUN to see how these players mesh with De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton AKA ‘Sactown 5-0’ and crew!

Thank you to Nemanja Bjelica and Cory Joseph, who were sent out of Sactown before the trade deadline. These two were CRUCIAL parts of the Sacramento Kings rebuild. These guys will receive HUGE ovations when they return to Golden1 Center in the future.

You Can TANK Me Later …

Up until the trade deadline some Kings fans and media members have instead pointed at the stat of the Kings being only 2 or so games back of a top 5 WORST record in the NBA. Nothing wrong with that, I’d be down for Jalen Suggs or Cade Cunningham next to Fox and Haliburton!

Currently, though I think the Kings have more to gain from a potential play-in push, and experience, rather than ‘tanking’. Which it seems like the Kings organization is thinking, as well!

This is the Sacramento Kings though. They don’t need to TRY and tank, to lose games. The Kings have been close but have been affected negatively by their lack of depth. The recent additions will add much-needed depth and versatility for head coach Luke Walton and staff!

Before the 3/25 NBA trade deadline, the Kings were depleted depth-wise due to multiple factors. Injuries have played a role – currently Marvin Bagley III is missing more time with a wrist injury. Fortunately for Bagley and the Kings, it will not require surgery and GM McNair hopes to see Bagz back on the floor in a month or so.

Impact players like Tyrese Haliburton, De’Aaron Fox have missed time as well throughout the season due to injury. There has been some COVID protocol stuff. As well as free agent signings that didn’t quite pan out, such as Glenn Robinson III. Along with whatever happened with Nemanja Bjelica sitting out earlier this season …

OH, and gull-dern leaked trades, that didn’t allow me to overuse the nickname ‘Red Rocket from the Pocket’ for ALMOST Sacramento King, and current Milwaukee Buck, Donte DiVincenzo.

Kings Strength of Schedule

According to Tankathon, with 26 games remaining, the Kings have the 14th toughest strength of schedule in the NBA, at .500.

A few of the teams that the Kings may be ‘competing’ with for the ‘play-in’ are the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the New Orleans Pelicans.

All of those teams, aside from Memphis and Golden State, have a tougher strength of schedule heading into the end of the season.

Patience and Questions Going Forward

No matter what the Kings did at the trade deadline, Kings fans need to have PATIENCE.

This could be a BIG off-season for the Kings. In regards to the NBA draft, trades in the off-season, and even free agency … the Kings look to have the potential to make big moves to improve the team in the short term and the long term.

I have some QUESTIONS!

Will the Kings re-sign Richaun Holmes?

What is the future of Marvin Bagley III?

I haven’t even mentioned Buddy Hield or Harrison Barnes! Are they long-term, future pieces for the Kings? Will they be used as trade bait in the off-season or next season at the trade deadline? TBD?

They both have progressively declining yearly salaries over the next few seasons, durability on their side, and … well they are under contract in Sacramento … which is sometimes the largest hurdle in the 916!

SO many more questions loom!

What’s on your mind? Let me know on TWITTER @sactowncrown

Regardless … I am PUMPED for the next 26 games and hopefully MORE for the Sacramento Kings this season!

Go Kings!

-Tom Witt

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