With 20 games remaining for Sacramento, the question arises. What will the game plan be for the rest of the season? Do you make a final playoff push being only 6.5 games out? Or do you look towards the offseason, where the team can be picked apart and assets can be secured?
For most fans, the 2015-2016 season has been underachieving because of all the hype that was sold during the offseason. With that said, Sacramento held the eight spot in the western conference for almost two weeks in January, something they haven’t done in years.
When creating the roster in the offseason, Vlade Divac kept in mind that there was going to be some momentum needed heading into the 2016-2017 season. With the Golden 1 Center nearly finished, the management was hoping for a playoff berth or a close to a .500 season.
Signing Rajon Rondo during the offseason on a one-year $9 million contract has paid off. This season, Rondo has looked like his Boston-self, averaging 12 points, 6.2 rebounds and 12 assists.
Most of the credit to his revival has to be given to Rondo’s willingness to not accept mediocrity and being somewhat healthy for the first part of the season, including a full offseason. With five triple-doubles and multiple 15 plus assist games, Rondo has single handily given the Kings the spark they needed on offense.
Sacramento ranks third in the NBA in offensive efficiency averaging 106.89 points per game, in good company with the Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder who are slightly ahead.
Offense is not where the Kings have struggled, it has been on the defensive end. Sacramento sits at number 25 in defensive efficiency, matching the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers.
20 games remain on the schedule and it’s too late to tank. Sacramento is somewhat caught in a catch 22. If leaning towards a lottery pick escape and a much-needed shooting guard selection, Sacramento would likely end up with a pick ranging from 7th-12th.
It’s safe to say that the playoffs are out of reach for the Kings, unless some miracle occurs in the next 20 games. Despite the playoff hopes diminished, Cousins and the Kings have to keep their hopes alive going into the Golden 1 Center next season.
The Kings’ key pieces, which include Cousins, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison and Marco Belinelli, are under contract for at least another season. Therefore, the goal will be keeping them healthy for the remainder of this season.
As far as the offseason, considering this is a guard driven draft, the Kings will have no choice but to draft a future scorer at that position.
Ben McLemore’s days are likely numbered as his name was thrown around in trade talks all season long and won’t stop after this season ends.
The main piece you will have to bring back is Rondo. He is one of the very few players that can dictate the pace of a game and changes the strategies for teams in the half-court and in a full-court setting.
Rondo will be looking for the right fit and a multi-year contract. Divac will have no choice but to offer him a contract, if he intends to keep fans afloat with his intentions of moving this franchise in the right direction.
If you have any hope of Cousins being as efficient as he has this year, you will need to keep Rondo running the offense.
Once you have pursued a Rondo deal, major moves will need to be made to add more defensive-minded players. Look for a big signing at the wing position over the offseason.
So ultimately, the Kings cannot tank to end the season. There will have to be some positivity coming out of this season to translate to the offseason. Personal will be shifted around once the season comes to an end and I wouldn’t be surprised if coach George Karl gets the boot.
11 home games remain to finish the season and I wouldn’t expect anything less than packed houses from here on out as the days at Sleep Train Arena are coming to an end.
Finishing out the season with a record over .500 would be a dream scenario but unless they go 17-3 that won’t happen.
The Kings’ record sits at (25-37), and the realistic goal should be reaching 35 games. Regardless if that happens or not, many changes should be made during the offseason heading into their world-class arena. Now it’s a matter of observing what the plan will be in the next 20 games. You never know with the Kings.