The next month looks like it will either make or break the Sacramento Kings’ truncated season. As the NBA’s youngest team looks ahead to their remaining January schedule, they see a whole lot of road games – 8 of the next 9, and 10 of the next 12, are on the road. This includes three back-to-back games, a common occurrence league-wide this year.
Currently the Kings are 3-6, which is the second-worst record in the Western Conference and in the Pacific Division. The shortened season started bright and full of hope as the Kings laid the beatdown on the hated Lakers in the home opener, but the next 6 games featured five blowout losses and a single home win, over the Hornets. Coach Paul Westphal was then promptly fired, and replaced by Keith Smart.
In the two games Smart has under his belt as Head Coach, the Kings are 1-1, but they have played competitive basketball and seem to have a bit of a fire lit under their collective asses, especially on the defensive end. Coach Smart has stated that he wants the Kings to take advantage of their youth, size, and speed, and become that rare breed of team that can both outrun and out-rebound opponents.
Though early hopes of a playoff run may have been dreaming too big, the upcoming road-heavy schedule could be good for the young team – they’ll be spending a whole lot of time together, both as a team, and with their new coach as they travel all over the country. There may not be much time for practice, but there’s plenty of time to review tape, work on game plans, and maybe most importantly - build relationships, which is something ex-coach Westphal was routinely criticized about his shortcomings in.
The Kings have yet to get a road win in three attempts this season, but this could be a golden opportunity to get some W’s and right this ship early – only half of their remaining January opponents have a winning record at this point. If they can make it through the rest of this month with at 6-6, there’s still hope. At the very least, perhaps we’ll see this team finally find their identity and play with some consistency.
Kings fans who want to see their favorite King on the All-Star team this year may actually have a shot this year – place your vote for Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, or DeMarcus Cousins – or do a write-in if you want to waste your vote - at NBA.com