Kings

Expert predictions for where Kings will finish in West

Kings
De'Aaron Fox, Tyresse Haliburton

Is this the year the Kings snap the streak?

Last year, there was optimism heading into Luke Walton's second season in Sacramento, with many believing De'Aaron Fox and Co. were ready to deliver the Kings back to the playoffs. But a porous defense, some injuries and bad luck saw the Kings finish at 31-41 and tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for 11th place in the Western Conference.

The Kings worked to address their defensive issues in the offseason by drafting Baylor guard Davion Mitchell with the No. 9 overall pick and bringing in Tristan Thompson to provide some rim protection, rebounding and a veteran presence in the locker room.

Hope springs eternal every fall in the NBA. With the Kings set to open their season Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, it's time to ask the question: Will the Kings end their 15-year playoff drought this season?

RELATED: Bold NBA season predictions including Kings' playoff fate

NBC Sports California's Kyle Draper, Morgan Ragan, Josh Schrock, Alex Didion and Kenny Thomas offer some predictions on whether or not the Kings will eclipse their over/under total of 35.5 wins at PointsBet, will they make the playoffs and who the X-factor will be.

Kyle Draper

Will Kings win more than 35 games?

"I'm going to break it down for you like this. They won 31 games last season. During a 72-game season, they had two nine-game streaks. That's not going to happen. It's a better roster this season. So I've got them going over. With that being said, to me, the expectation is playoffs or bust. You have to make the playoffs whether it is play-in or what. Because if you don't make the playoffs then you didn't take a step forward. You were two games out of making the play-in tournament last season.

 

Will the Kings make the playoffs?

"When you look at it, you look at a team like Memphis and New Orleans, they'll be in the mix. Portland I think maybe takes a step back this season and so I say, 'Why not us? Why not?'"

Morgan Ragan

Will Kings win more than 35 games?

"I'm going to say under. You have to look at the competition, right? It's no knock on them and what this roster can do, it's just what is in this league right now. There are just so many teams who are stacked with All-Stars and everything that they need to get those wins. I think this team is going to compete, but I think 35 is about right."

Will Kings make the playoffs?

"I like the, 'Why not us?' And I do believe that they are going to contend for the play-in game. I do. I don't mentally consider it the playoffs, but I appreciate the optimism."

Alex Didion

Will Kings win more than 35 games? Will they make the playoffs?

The Kings are staring some unfortunate history in the face if they don’t find a way to make the playoffs this season.

The addition of Davion Mitchell should shore up what was a brutal defense in 2020-21, and veterans like Tristan Thompson and Mo Harkless will rub off on what remains a young squad in Sacramento.

Ultimately, the Kings will surpass their 35.5 projected win total from PointsBet, although it won’t be by more than a few games. I see the Kings finishing 37-45 and once again missing out on the Western Conference playoffs. There is promise in this group, and if the three-guard lineup proves effective, this prediction could be wrong by a handful of games.

Who will be the Kings' X-factor?

The X-factor for the Kings this season will be Richaun Holmes.

Often forgotten behind more high-profile stars like De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, Holmes quietly put together an impressive season for the Kings in 2020-21. After putting up 14.2 points and 8.3 rebounds, Holmes takes another step and posts a double-double average over the course of the regular season.

If he can be a force defensively and help the Kings climb out of the cellar of NBA defenses, the Kings could make some strides and find themselves in the play-in tournament. But if Holmes can’t continue his development, expect that playoff drought to continue in the state capital.

Kenny Thomas

Will Kings win more than 35 games?

"I'm going to go over. There is nowhere else to go but up. Especially with what has happened over the last couple of years. The team is young still, that's why they brought in a couple of veterans like Tristan to actually help and fill that void to where they can start to become accustomed to winning."

 

Will Kings make the playoffs?

"Man, let's just get more wins and then we will see. You still have to consider it's the Western Conference, you know what I mean? It's a tough conference. I still feel good about it, and at the same time, this is my first year on T.V. so I'm being positive."

Josh Schrock

Will Kings win more than 35 games? Will they make the playoffs?

The short answer is yes, and yes.

I love the idea of a three-guard lineup with De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell, and the prospect of a four-guard lineup with Hield could be tough to deal with if all the pieces fit correctly. I don't think Haliburton has been talked about enough in the lead-up to this season. He had a phenomenal rookie season and Year 2 is traditionally when good players make a significant leap.

We know Fox has another level to take his game and I am expecting a good season from Marvin Bagley, who will be playing for his next contract. Bringing back Holmes was big for the Kings and if Thompson has any juice left it will be a bonus.

I have the Kings finishing at 42-40 and in eighth place in the Western Conference and beating the Denver Nuggets in the first play-in game to earn the No. 7 seed and face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Drought over.

Who is the Kings' X-factor?

I have to go with Bagley. The Kings don't have a lot of good options in the frontcourt outside of Holmes and Harrison Barnes, who should see a lot of time at the four in the Kings' three-guard lineup. The Kings can't expect to rely on Thompson, Alex Len and Damian Jones to give them consistently good minutes, so they'll need Bagley to stay healthy, up his game on the defensive end, crash the glass and be able to stretch the floor to pull the opposing big away from the basket.

If Bagley has another health setback or can't stay on the floor due to his defensive issues, then the Kings will have to ask a lot of Holmes, Barnes, Len and Thompson. And that could be a recipe for disaster.