When you’re as bad as the Kings have been over the last six seasons, it’s hard to imagine sweeping any teams. But, for the first time in a long time, it looks like Sacramento is on the right track.
The team has a couple of cornerstones in DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, and the necessary depth in players like Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Aaron Brooks, Jason Thompson and James Johnson to help support them. The Kings also have a promising young rookie in Thomas Robinson.
A playoff appearance is likely not in the cards for the Kings in 2012-13, but the days of the team finishing with a winning percentage below 40 percent (less than 33 wins) should be over. It’s time for this franchise to start climbing back towards respectability, and it all starts with consistently beating the teams that their better than.
Here are five teams that, if they play to their potential, the Sacramento Kings are capable of sweeping this season.
Orlando obviously lost its best player when it sent Howard to the Lakers, but it’s not just Howard that the Magic will be missing. They also lost Jason Richardson and the NBA’s Most Improved Player in Ryan Anderson. What’s more is the team didn’t really replenish those losses with on-court pieces for this season.
The Kings get the Magic at home on Dec. 7 and travel to Orlando on Feb. 27. The home game should be one that Sacramento can take because it’s not on a back-to-back However, the game at Orlando comes a day after a game with the Heat, so it figures to be a more difficult challenge.
Still, if the Kings want to take a step in the right direction, sweeping the Magic needs to be part of it.
Like the Kings, the Cavaliers are in the middle of rebuilding. But the Kings should have a head start over the Cavaliers, because, unfortunately, Sacramento has been rebuilding longer, and thus has a more talented roster.
Cleveland has a few players that could pose problems for the Kings, namely Kyrie Irving, who hit two game-winning free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to give the Cavs a 93-92 victory in the teams’ only meeting last season.
But the Cavs aren’t demonstrably better this season. And since the Kings were so close in last year’s only game against Cleveland, there’s no reason the Kings can’t sweep both contests.
The Kings travel to Cleveland for a Jan. 2 contest and get the Cavs at home a couple weeks later on Jan. 14. The away game comes on the heels of a matchup with the Detroit Pistons, so there’s a chance the Kings could actually win both tilts.
The Pistons should be another team that the Kings could potentially sweep this season. Both teams had similar records last season: Detroit was 25-41 and Sacramento was 22-44.
Detroit won both matchups last season, taking the first game 114-108 and the second contest 124-112. Rodney Stuckey killed the Kings in both contests. He averaged 35.5 points and shot a combined 22-of-38 from the field (57.8 percent), so if they’re going to sweep Detroit, they’ll have to slow down Stuckey.
The Pistons travel to Sacramento on Nov. 7 for the Kings’ second home game of the season. Then, on New Year’s Day, the Kings travel to Detroit. As was mentioned in the previous slide, it’s the first leg of the back-to-back, which means the Kings should be fresh.
The Bobcats posted the worst winning percentage in NBA history last season (10.6 percent). Of the Bobcats’ seven wins last season, none of them came against the Kings. Although, it is fair to point out that the two teams only played each other once in the lockout-shortened season, so it’s not like we have much of a sample size to go off of.
But the sample size that we do have tells us that the Bobcats are a historically bad team. Granted, the Kings haven’t exactly been world-beaters of late, but they should be good enough to sweep the Bobcats this season.
The Kings gets Charlotte twice in 2012-13. They’ll have an away game on Jan. 19 (the second leg of a back-to-back) and will play the Bobcats at home on March 3. If Sacramento wants to take a step in the right direction, then it has to start with sweeping the historically bad Bobcats.
You’ve probably noticed that the first four teams on this slideshow are from the Eastern Conference. Well, that’s for two simple reasons.
First, the Eastern Conference isn’t as deep as the Western Conference. But second, and most important in this case, because the Kings are in the Western Conference, they have to face other conference teams three or four times instead of two times. That will make it markedly tougher for Sacramento to sweep their Western Conference foes.
Of the teams in the Western Conference, the Kings probably have the best shot at sweeping the Hornets. For one, New Orleans was worse than Sacramento last season, although it was only by one game. And while the Hornets figure to be a much improved team, the Kings also look to be better.
The teams have three contests against each other. Two of them are in New Orleans, on Jan. 21 and Feb. 24, but neither of those games is a back-to-back for the Kings. Then, on April 10, the Hornets travel to Sacramento. Don't expect them to perform too well at Power Balance Pavilion.
Sweeping the Hornets will be a difficult task, especially since the Kings will have to beat them three times instead of two. But, since none of those games come on the heels of a matchup the night before, the Kings should have fresh legs, giving them a puncher’s chance.
Follow me on Twitter: @SimRisso