How many wins Kings need to clinch top-six spot in West


The Kings’ goals for the 2022-23 NBA season have shifted drastically.

When the new campaign opened in mid-October, Sacramento was hoping to crack the play-in tournament as a No. 7, 8, 9 or 10 seed and earn the right to play in a best-of-seven playoff series.

Then, the Kings beat the Utah Jazz by one point on Kevin Huerter’s game-winning 3-pointer on Dec. 3. That shot them up from the Western Conference's No. 7 spot to No. 5 in the standings. The Kings have been a top-six seed ever since.

Now, with 22 regular-season games to play, the Kings are determined to maintain their status as the No. 3 playoff seed in the conference and secure home-court advantage in the first round. Sacramento currently holds a three-game lead over the fourth-place Phoenix Suns and is just 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the second spot.

So, what do the Kings need to do to lock up a postseason berth?

Basketball Reference's playoff probabilities report looks fondly on the "Beam Team," giving the Kings a 98.9 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 96.7 percent chance to land a top-six seed. It forecasts the Kings with a 14.5 percent chance to sneak past the Grizzlies into the No. 2 seed, and a 56.9 percent chance to remain at No. 3.

ESPN’s power index model is similar, giving the Kings a 97.5 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 91.6 percent chance to claim a top-six seed.


It also offers the Kings a 37.7 percent chance to win their first-round playoff series and advance to the Western Conference semifinals. The Clippers (86 percent) and Mavericks (39.2 percent) have better odds to advance to the second postseason round despite currently owning a worse records than Sacramento.

FiveThirtyEight, by the way, still isn’t quite sold on Sacramento. The website's projection gives the Kings an 86 percent chance to make the playoffs, narrowly trailing teams behind them in the standings in the Suns (89 percent) and Mavericks (88 percent), but ahead of the Clippers (77 percent).

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Basketball Reference projects the Suns to finish in fourth place with a 44-38 record, and the Clippers to finish sixth with a 42-40 record.

With that knowledge, we'll slot the Kings' target win total to stay as a top-three seed at 45. That means Sacramento needs to go 10-12 over its final 22 contests, which seems more than doable.

Per Basketball Reference's projections, the Kings would need to win at least 43 games to secure a top-six spot in the conference. That would mean Sacramento could limp into the playoffs going 8-14 down the stretch and still avoid the play-in tournament.

Have a headache yet?

For Kings coach Mike Brown and Co., it's simple, really: Sacramento's chances to light the beam during postseason basketball improves with every win.