Less than a month ago the Sacramento Kings had a 22-25 record following a stretch of 7 wins in 8 games. They were just one game behind the Golden State Warriors who held the 10th spot, and the play-in tournament seemed like a real possibility for Sacramento.
Fast forward 22 days and the Kings are now 23-34, 12th in the conference standings, and 5 games behind the 10th place Spurs.
The Kings went on to drop 9 straight, a slump they had already experienced earlier in the season. They kept their losing streak from reaching double digits by beating the Mavericks on Sunday night, but being 11 games under .500 and 5 games back of the play-in tournament spot means a trip to the NBA Draft Lottery is more than likely.
The sudden descent has made the playoffs an insurmountable feat. If the Kings could’ve broken their fall and won just three of the nine games they lost, they would be just 2 games out of that 10th spot. But they did, in fact, lose nine straight and now there are only 15 games remaining to chip away at the 5 games separating them and the Spurs.
Inconsistency hurt this team earlier in the year and inconsistency made winnable games a challenge during their nine game skid.
Without a doubt, the Kings had their chances to stay competitive in the West, especially with De’Aaron Fox leading the way. During their winless streak, Fox averaged 27.3 points, on 45% shooting and 6.6 assists per contest for the Kings.
As good as Fox has been, he can’t lead the Kings to the postseason by himself. If the losing streak illustrated anything it was that a real second option is imperative for this franchise’s success. Until that addition is made, 9-game losing streaks may be as common as the clang of cow bells.
The play-in tournament might not be a big deal to some organizations, but it would have been huge for Sacramento, who were on the verge of taking a spot and keeping it just last month.
Still, the Kings have proven to be full of surprises and a 10-5 run to end the season is not out of the realm of possibility, but even in that miraculous scenario, a play-in tournament spot wouldn’t be guaranteed.