Kings

How different factors on schedule will affect Kings in 2019-20 season

How different factors on schedule will affect Kings in 2019-20 season

82 games. 30 teams. It should be simple to make an NBA schedule that is moderately close to balanced.

But balance isn’t usually the case when it comes to the schedule and the Sacramento Kings, and there are plenty of reasons for the discrepancy.

For a team like the Kings, the release of the new schedule is an annual reminder that A) they play in a small market, B) they’ve missed the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons and C) they play on the west coast.

When the 2019-20 regular-season schedule dropped a little over a week ago, there was a collective grown from Kings fans on social media that could be heard across the globe. A budding young team, fresh off their best season since the 2005-06 season, earned one nationally televised game (TNT or ESPN), and it wasn’t even on TNT.

A ninth-place finish in the Western Conference wasn’t worth more than one real nationally televised game. The Phoenix Suns, who finished at 19-63 last season, “earned” one TNT game.

Nationally televised games aren’t a barometer for how good a team is. Heck, the Charlotte Hornets got a single national game and they finished with an identical 39-43 record as the Kings last season, but lost their lone All-Star when guard Kemba Walker joined the Boston Celtics.

Making it to a national audience is nice, but it has no value in the win/loss column. A deep dive into the Kings’ schedule shows a few issues that might actually affect the team’s ability to compete for a playoff spot.

Sacramento is tied for the third-most miles traveled on the season, hitting the 50,000-mile mark, not including the 17,000-plus round-trip miles the team will venture on their trip to India during the preseason.

A further breakdown shows that travel is an issue for a lot of teams out west. Here is a breakdown of miles traveled by conference, with the west shown in red and the eastern conference shown in black.

Ten of the top twelve teams in miles traveled are Western Conference clubs. You could write it off as a geographical issues. Nine of the bottom ten teams in miles traveled are from the Eastern Conference, including the seven teams with the fewest amount of miles traveled.

Stangely, both Los Angeles teams travel the fewest miles on the season out of any Western Conference team. The Lakers also rank first in total nationally televised games, including TNT, ABC, ESPN and NBA TV with 43 contests. The Clippers are tied for third with 38 games on the national schedule.

Teams like the Pelicans, Thunder and Mavericks, who are geographical centered on the map of the United States, ranked third, fourth and fifth in miles traveled by Western Conference teams.

Some of the glaring issues with the Kings’ schedule centered around at least one anomaly. The Kings typically make a single trip to Florida, playing both the Magic and Heat during the same swing. This season they make two trips to Florida, which helps rack up the miles.

On the plus side, the Kings do not have a single six-game road trip this season and even their five-game trip is spaced out over 10 days.

Another way to break down the Kings’ chances this season is to look at strength of schedule. Using Las Vegas projected win totals and over/under lines, Sacramento plays the sixth-most difficult schedule in the NBA with a projected win total against of .513.

A lot of that has to do with the Kings’ division, where they’ll face the Clippers (projected 54.5 wins), Lakers (projected 50.5 wins) and Warriors (projected 49.5 wins) four times each. The only break is that they also play the Suns four times, although even Phoenix is projected to win 29.5 games, an increase of more than ten wins from last year.

Normally there is an early moment in the schedule you can point to that the Kings have to survive. There are a few of those this season, including the early Oct/Nov schedule, as well as an extremely difficult month of April.

Sacramento has the 10th-most difficult opening month of the campaign with a projected winning percentage against of .523. The schedules for December, January and March are all manageable, including a stretch with 10 out of 12 games at home during mid-Dec. and early Jan.

Their pre All-Star break versus post All-Star break schedule is close to even, but their finish in April is brutal. In the final month of the season, the Kings face a barrage of quality Western Conference opponents with a combined projected with total of .555.

The Kings’ April is the third-most difficult final month for any NBA team. Sacramento finishes the season with a back-to-back against the Lakers at Staples, followed by the season finale at home against the Warriors.

There is one last crazy chart to look at. If you break down the rest advantage for every NBA team, the Kings actually have a fairly balanced schedule. They play 20-22 games with a rest advantage and 20-22 with a rest disadvantage. The remaining 38-42 games are even.

Overall, the Kings travel too much, their final month of the season is brutal and they aren’t going to be highlighted on any national networks this season. They need to get off to a fast start and have a buffer down the stretch if they are going to survive the final month of the season and snap their long playoff drought.

[RELATED: Why Kings' Fox likely walked away from Team USA chance]

None of this is unexpected. Despite a breakout season, the Kings are still the Kings when it comes to a national audience, distance traveled and strength of schedule. The only way to break the cycle is by winning games and forcing the league to take notice.

H/T to both Jared Dubin and Ed Kupfer for graphic breakdowns via Twitter.

Harrison Barnes, Kings want chance to make NBA playoffs upon restart

Harrison Barnes, Kings want chance to make NBA playoffs upon restart

When the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down the 2019-20 NBA season back in March, the Kings were 28-36. Not the prettiest record.

But Luke Walton's team was making progress. They had won seven of the last 10 games, and were 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference.

Now, with the NBA nearing a return-to-play plan, the question becomes: Will the Kings get a chance to compete for that final playoff spot or will the league move forward with the current 16 playoff teams?

"For us, we're kind of in a tough situation because we're on the fringe," Kings forward Harrison Barnes told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck on the "Full 48" podcast. "So in all these scenarios that are coming about, we're kind of that unique case where 'Well, do they get the play-in tournament? Do they get the five games? Since they're three games out, do they just go with playoff teams?' So you just try to stay in shape, stay ready, but you know whatever decision comes about, it's going to be made with everybody in mind, but not everyone's going to be able to be comfortable with that solution. Someone's going to get the short end of that stick, and we hope to have the opportunity to play."

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

One rumored scenario would see all teams returning and playing a few regular-season games before the playoffs start. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard opposed that idea last week because he doesn't feel his team would get a true shot at making the playoffs. He would prefer the Kings, Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs compete with Grizzlies in a play-in tournament to determine the final playoff teams.

"I think Dame is right," Barnes told Beck. "I mean, if you come back and play, you want to be playing for something. The risk of traveling, being in Orlando in that type of environment, with any precaution that can be taken, there is a risk in that, so if you're going to be playing, you want to be playing for something. All of us who have been in isolation, we've been training, we've been hoping for this moment. You want to see that rewarded if you can, but if you're going to be in a situation where you do all this training and you come out there for a few games and you're not able to qualify for the playoffs, then it makes sense to probably have playoff teams and go from there."

[RELATED: Kings reportedly to get playoff shot]

Barnes and the Kings are a young team that entered the 2019-20 season with high expectations. But injuries to De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley early in the year set the team back. Now, with everyone nearing full health, Barnes wants to see what the team could do if they were given the chance to compete against the Western Conference bubble teams.

"Our team is a little bit different because we had a lot of injuries throughout the season, and we were starting to hit our stride," Barnes said. "But now we're healthy, so if the opportunity is there for us to play and make the playoffs, we want that opportunity, we want to see where we're at. There's no other simulation we can get for games. This group, where we're at, we need to play, we need to play together, and playing for something is important."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

NBA rumors: Kings to get playoffs shot in potential Adam Silver plan

NBA rumors: Kings to get playoffs shot in potential Adam Silver plan

The Kings would get a chance to end their 13-year postseason drought in a proposal to restart the NBA season that reportedly is gaining momentum among the league's owners.

Sacramento would be one of 22 teams headed to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports just outside of Orlando in a plan that has "growing support," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported Friday, citing sources. The Kings would also be included in a 20-team format that "remains alive," sources told ESPN.

Wojnarowski and Shelburne reported that the NBA will vote Thursday on a format to restart the season during a board of governors call. The league requires a three-fourths majority to approve any such plan, and the owners reportedly will vote with whichever format commissioner Adam Silver recommends.

The Kings were in the thick of a playoff chase when the NBA suspended its season on March 11 due to the coronavirus' spread, just 3.5 games back of the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. Sacramento's game that night was supposed to the be the last before the league indefinitely shut its doors, but the New Orleans Pelicans -- the Kings' opponents that night -- were reluctant to take the court once they learned referee Courtney Kirkland had recently worked a Utah Jazz game. Jazz center Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test earlier that night prompted the league to suspend the season.

Teams that were within six games of the final playoff spots in each conference would be included in the 22-team format, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne. The 20-team format reportedly would only include the top eight seeds in each conference and the four teams, including the Kings, within four games of the eighth seed. If the NBA opts to resume the season with 22 teams, there would be regular-season games and a play-in tournament "to compete for playoff berths in both the Eastern and Western Conference," Wojnarowski and Shelburne reported.

[RELATED: Karl rehashes Cousins meltdown, night Drake dropped by]

The Kings have gotten good news all week, with NBA general managers reportedly preferring by a wide margin a "Playoffs Plus" format to resume the season with 20 or more teams and their inclusion in all the formats gaining traction among the league's decision-makers. 

Sacramento could get even better -- and more official -- news next Thursday if either a 20- or 22-team format is approved.