Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With the Sacramento Kings likely moving to Seattle before the 2013-14 NBA season begins, could Tuesday night's game be the Denver Nuggets final visit to Sacramento ?
|2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 63|
|March 5th, 2013 - 8:00 PM (MT)|
|Sleep Train Arena - Sacramento, CA
|TV Altitude 2 (948 Comcast HD) / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan|
|You're here!||Blogs||Sactown Royalty|
|None!||Injuries||Travis Outlaw (out)|
|Denver is 80-79 all-time against the Kings franchise, which began as the Rochester Royals in 1948.||Stat||The Kings have lost to the Nuggets by an average margin of 26.5 points this season.|
With the Kings on the verge of their sixth relocation in franchise history (well, technically fifth if you don't count the franchise's brief stint as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings from 1972 through 1975 before becoming the Kansas City Kings for the 1975-76 season), the team itself is an aimless mess. They're not quite bad enough to ensure a good shot at the first overall pick in the draft (like that will matter this summer, anyway), and yet they're nowhere near being a playoff team. And it's one thing to suck, but it's another to suck without upside.
So aimless are the Kings, in fact, that they already gave up on their first round draft choice from the 2012 NBA Draft - the fifth overall selection Thomas Robinson - by way of a trade deadline deal. Huh?
In the NBA, you're really only as good as your ownership. Just see the Spurs, Mavericks and Nuggets before Peter Holt, Mark Cuban and Stan Kroenke, respectively, took over. But despite having a pair of frauds in the Maloof brothers owning the Kings, the Kings have made an assortment of bad decisions with their draft picks. Yes, it was stupid to give up on Robinson so early. But it was doubly stupid to draft Robinson over Damian Lillard. In the 2011 NBA Draft, the Kings stupidly maneuvered on draft day to get their hands on Jimmer Fredette, missing out on Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson. (Even Utah didn't maneuver to get Fredette, who would have at least delivered asses in the seats in Salt Lake City before dropping out of the league a la Adam Morrison.)
In 2010 and 2009, the Kings drafted DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, respectively. Both good picks at the time and both good players when they want to be. But while the Warriors have leap-frogged from the basement of the Pacific Division and the Timberwolves have proven to be competitive (when healthy), the Kings remain mired as a Western Conference bottom feeder.
And, sadly, it could cost the city of Sacramento their franchise.
And while I think we'd all agree that the NBA should be in Seattle (and shouldn't have bailed on Seattle for Oklahoma City in the first place), does it have to come at Sacramento's expense? Lest we forget that Sacramento's metropolitan area population isn't much smaller than Denver's - among 28 NBA cities, Denver (approximately 2.6 million) ranks 16th with Sacramento (approximately 2.2 million) landing at 19th.
But the Kings myriad of misfortunes has been to the benefit of the Nuggets as of late. And then some. In their last nine matchups, the Nuggets have won eight - most in dominant fashion (although why do I suspect that most NBA teams last nine games versus the Kings resulted in a dominant win, too?). In their two games played this season, the Nuggets have ran the Kings out of the building to the tune of a 26.5 point differential on average.
Entering Tuesday's affair in Sacramento, the Kings will have their best shot at beating the Nuggets in some time as the Nuggets will be playing the second of a back-to-back while the Kings will be well rested and waiting for the Nuggets early morning arrival.
But despite the back-to-back, the Nuggets have to take home wins like this one. After all, the Kings have just lost seven of their last nine games and - as mentioned above - the Nuggets have cleaned their clock twice this season. If the Nuggets are serious about that fourth overall playoff seed, they need to dominate the Kings for the third time in a row.
Three things to look for in this game ...
1) Rebounding. Amazingly, even though the 6'11", 270-pound DeMarcus Cousins and the 6'11", 250-pound Jason Thompson anchor the post for the Kings, they are third from the bottom in total rebounds among all NBA teams. The Nuggets? Second overall. In their first two meetings this season, the Nuggets out-rebounded the Kings by 21 rebounds.
2) Ty Lawson versus Isaiah Thomas. Stats-wise, Lawson has only had three bad games since mid-January, and the Nuggets won all of those games anyway - including two against the mighty Thunder. Isaiah Thomas (not to be confused with franchise-ruiner Isiah Thomas) is playing pretty well, too - except his efforts don't seem to result in wins.
3) Do Gallo's struggles matter? Clearly bothered by a nagging leg injury, Danilo Gallinari continues to struggle but the Nuggets are winning anyway. Why? Wilson Chandler has really stepped up his game of late. But at some point, the Nuggets must get Gallo right if they're to grab that four-seed and do any damage in the playoffs.
Scouting the Kings
-DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins may be (okay, he is) a head case, but if the Kings were ever serious about dealing their big center, I'd venture to guess that 20 NBA teams would be lined up to trade for him. Cousins' combination of size and touch makes him lethal on any given night.
-Isaiah Thomas: The diminutive point guard has cemented himself as a starter for the Kings (leading to the recent ouster of Aaron Brooks via waivers) and has been playing great lately for a second-year player who was a second round pick.
-Tyreke Evans: Is it possible to do one's career in reverse? Since averaging a remarkable 20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 5.8 apg (plus 1.5 spg) as a rookie and getting some All-Star Game mention, Evans has seen his scoring and assist numbers drop every season since.
-Jimmer Fredette: It's hard to understand why the Kings thought selecting Fredette in the lottery would be a good idea. He's too undersized to thrive at the two-guard spot and yet he doesn't have the point guard skills to man the one spot. What's the over/under on Fredette being in the NBA going forward? One more season? Two? Three?
Final Thought ...
The Nuggets are riding a five-game winning streak entering Sacramento. Yes, the Kings play tough at home (they actually have a winning record at home) and yes, the Nuggets will be tired. But it's games like these that could be the difference between the four and five-seed.
If the Nuggets just take care of business, we should see a lot of Timofey Mozgov, Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton and Anthony Randolph on Tuesday night.
Save the Date - 3/19 March Madness Stiffs Night Out!
On Tuesday, March 19th we're going to kick off March Madness by watching the Nuggets take on the Thunder in Oklahoma City at 6pm from Jake's Food & Spirits. Free appetizers and 2-for-1 drinks will be served.
We will be distributing NCAA brackets for $10, with all of the proceeds going to the Denver Hooperz, a local non-profit that provide after school basketball programs to at-risk youth. Prizes - including Nuggets tickets - will be given out to bracket winners. Also, the Colorado Sports Guys (Nate Timmons and Ross Martin) will be live podcasting throughout the event - and it's Nate's birthday!