Kings

How Kings' scrimmages with Bucks, NBA's best could boost playoff hopes

How Kings' scrimmages with Bucks, NBA's best could boost playoff hopes

You can say this much about the Kings: They'll be very prepared for their eight seeding games during the restarted NBA season.

Sacramento will scrimmage against the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers before the Kings' real games begin on July 31 at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.

For those counting at home, the Kings will play the NBA's eighth-best (Miami), fourth-best (LA) and best (Milwaukee) teams by record. The three teams have a combined five All-Stars among them, while the Bucks and Clippers are first (plus-10.7) and third (plus-6.4) in net rating.

The Kings will need to be tested, of course, considering the uphill climb required to make the playoffs.

Sacramento currently is the 11th seed in the Western Conference, 3.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Kings, as the ninth seed, would need to be within 4.0 games of the eighth seed in order to force a play-in series to grab the West's final playoff spot.

Two games against the Zion Williamson-led New Orleans Pelicans loom large in that regard, as does the Kings' lone matchup with the 12th-seeded San Antonio Spurs. Warming up against the Heat, Clippers and Bucks should help them prepare for key games against other contenders, including the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: Bazemore would welcome re-signing with Kings in offseason]

Win all eight games, and the Kings likely would make the play-in round at the very least. Harrison Barnes would also finally be able to shave, and earning the eighth seed would end a 14-year postseason drought.

Those are tall tasks, but each might feel slightly less so if Sacramento is able to hang with some of the NBA's best before the restarted season officially tips off.

How Spurs, Suns can help Kings' lottery chances with bubble victories

How Spurs, Suns can help Kings' lottery chances with bubble victories

While the Kings already are bounced from NBA playoff contention, there is a glimmer of hope that through the play-in game, they could find their way moving up in the NBA’s draft lottery.

By rule, the 16 teams that make the postseason will comprise the final 16 picks in the first round of the draft. The 14 lottery teams, which include eight clubs that didn’t make the bubble restart, and the six teams that made the bubble, but did not make the playoffs, will then vie for one of the four top spots in the lottery.

According to this season’s restart rules, the records for the 14 non-playoff teams that comprise the lottery, revert back to the team’s records on March 11.

If the Grizzlies or Trail Blazers find their way into the postseason as the No. 8 seed, it doesn’t impact the Kings. There is a reasonable likelihood that this scenario plays out and all of this is for not.

At the start of play Wednesday, the Blazers hold a half game lead over the Grizzlies, Spurs and Suns. They finish off their eight game schedule against the Brooklyn Nets, who have somehow strung together a 5-2 record, despite leaving all of their stars back in New York.

If Portland wins, they’ll earn a spot in the play-in game as the No. 8 seed and they will need just one win out of two potential games to advance to the playoffs. This would be bad for Sacramento.

If Portland loses Thursday, things get very interesting. A Blazers loss, and wins by two of the three teams chasing them, means that they are eliminated from the playoffs. If only one of the teams chasing the Blazers win, then Portland would earn the No. 9 spot in the play-in game and have to beat the No. 8 twice.

If Memphis wins their finale Thursday against the Bucks, they make the play-in as either the No. 8 or No. 9 seed, depending on the outcome of the Blazers game. If the Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs all lose their respective games, Memphis also would make the play-in game as the No. 9 seed.

The road to the playoffs for the Suns and Spurs is complicated, but for Phoenix to make it, they need to win and a loss by either Portland or Memphis. If both Portland and Memphis lose and Phoenix wins, the Suns are the No. 8 seed heading to the play-in. If one of Portland or Memphis loses and Phoenix wins, then the Suns are the No. 9 seed and need to win back-to-back games in the play-in.

In order for the Spurs to extend their incredible 22-season playoff streak, they need a lot of help. They finish with the Utah Jazz and need to win to have any shot. If they win and the Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns all lose, then the Spurs are the No. 8 seed in the play-in game. If the Spurs win and two of the three teams in running lose, then the Spurs make it as the No. 9 seed for the play-in game.

Why does all of this matter for the Kings?

Because if either the Spurs or the Suns, not only make it to the play-in game, but also win and represent the Western Conference in the playoffs as the eighth seed, they will become the 16th team outside of the lottery.

Sacramento currently sits in a two-way tie with the Pelicans for 12th and 13th place in the lottery. It doesn’t matter that the Kings beat New Orleans 2-1 in the season series, they will have a coin flip before the draft lottery to determine who is No. 12 and who is No. 13.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

If the Spurs or Suns move from their current position of No. 10 and No. 11 in the lottery, the Kings and Pelicans would move up a spot.

One spot isn’t earth-shattering, but it could make a difference on draft night. It also improves the team's chances of moving into the top four of the draft from 6.1 percent to 9.4 percent.

A perfect scenario for Sacramento would be that the Suns and Spurs win and the Grizzlies and Blazers lose. This would guarantee that the Kings would move up one spot in the lottery.

The Kings have been lucky in the lottery in two of the last three drafts. They moved from No. 8 to No. 3 and then slid to No. 5 as part of a pick swap in the 2017 NBA Draft. That move earned them the chance to select De’Aaron Fox.

[RELATED: Kings takeaways: What you might have missed in 112-106 win vs. Pelicans]

In 2018, the Kings moved up from No. 7 to No. 2, where they selected Marvin Bagley.

The Kings finish off their restart schedule on Thursday morning with a 10:30 game against the Lakers. They’ll board a plane back to Sacramento directly following the game and will likely land in time to see how all of the games played out and where they stand heading into the lottery on Aug. 20.

Kings takeaways: What you might have missed in 112-106 win vs. Pelicans

Kings takeaways: What you might have missed in 112-106 win vs. Pelicans

BOX SCORE

A win is a win.

After an early collapse in the bubble cost them any chance at an NBA playoff spot, the Sacramento Kings picked up their second win of the Orlando bubble Tuesday evening in a meaningless game.

Sacramento outlasted a short-handed New Orleans Pelicans team and a big performance from Jahlil Okafor to come away with a 112-106 victory.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings found a way to pick up a win and improved to 2-5 in the Orlando bubble.

Barnes looks better

The Kings waiting anxiously for Harrison Barnes to clear coronavirus protocol and join them in the Orlando bubble. He reported for duty right before Sacramento’s last scrimmage game, but he really hasn’t looked like himself throughout the tournament.

That changed on Tuesday night when Barnes went for a team-high 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting. He added eight rebounds and two assists in the win.

Barnes isn’t a star, but he’s an incredibly valuable piece to the Kings’ rotation. It’s good to see him getting his timing back, unfortunately it came way too late.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Audition

Harry Giles’ time with the Sacramento Kings might be coming to an end and if it is, he’s going to go out with a bang.

The second-year big man is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and he’s auditioning for all 30 NBA teams. With the Kings short-handed, Giles got an extended look and had a nice little ball game for coach Luke Walton’s squad.

In 24 minutes of action, Giles finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

[RELATED: NBA Mock Draft 13.0]

Leaving it all out on the court

Bogdan Bogdanovic had a disaster of a game in the Kings’ overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks. If you take that game away, he’s had a great offensive showing in the bubble. 

The third-year Kings guard, who enters this summer as a restricted free agent for Sacramento, came into the contest averaging 19 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting from 3-point range, and those numbers include his 1-for-15 showing against the Mavs.

Bogi had another solid game for the Kings against New Orleans, scoring 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. The Kings are going to have to pay up, but there is a very good chance they lock up the Serbian shooting guard long term this offseason.