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Kings 2019-20 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 7: De'Aaron Fox #5, Marvin Bagley III #35, and Harrison Barnes #40 of the Sacramento Kings are seen together during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 7, 2019 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Although they missed the NBA playoffs for the 13th straight season, the Sacramento Kings could qualify 2018-19 as a success and provided the fanbase with some optimism about the future. 

De'Aaron Fox, in particular, took a step forward in his second year, averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 assists while shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range. Buddy Hield's scoring average also jumped from 13.5 points to 20.7 points.

The Kings' 39-43 record was their best since 2005-06, the last time they reached the postseason.

While nobody considers Sacramento a title contender, the team wants to make an even stronger push for the playoffs based on its business in the offseason.

The Kings fired Dave Joerger and hired Luke Walton. They also signed Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza and Richaun Holmes and re-signed Harrison Barnes for $85 million over four years.

Although Sacramento remains an underdog to crack the top eight in the Western Conference, nobody should be surprised if its postseason drought finally ends in 2020.

         

2019-20 Details

Season Opener: Oct. 23 at Phoenix Suns

Championship Odds: 150-1 (via Caesars)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

          

Top Matchups

Oklahoma City Thunder (First Game: Dec. 11)

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Head Coach Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder coaches Steven Adams #12 against the Sacramento Kings on December 19, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

No West playoff team from last year is more vulnerable than the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Paul George's trade request and subsequent move to the Los Angeles Clippers drastically lowered Oklahoma City's ceiling. Then the Thunder dealt Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, which furthered their rebuild despite Chris Paul coming back from Houston.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in July, though, they don't plan on trading Paul before the start of the regular season.

Oklahoma City isn't completely bottoming out—at least not yet. A starting five of Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Terrance Ferguson, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams is good enough to keep the team respectable.

Assuming general manager Sam Presti keeps this group together for the entire season, the Thunder are basically at Sacramento's level and maybe even a little better.

However, Oklahoma City is the most likely candidate for the Kings to replace in the top eight.

           

Minnesota Timberwolves (First Game: Dec. 26)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 and Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrate a play against the Denver Nuggets during the game on April 11, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves were doomed from the start based on the disarray Jimmy Butler created with his trade request. Their performance without him was a sobering assessment of where they stand in the NBA title race.

After failing to land D'Angelo Russell, the Timberwolves only made marginal improvements to their roster. They selected Jarrett Culver in the first round of the draft and signed Jake Layman and Jordan Bell.

Simply avoiding the drama Butler generated should put Minnesota in a stronger position to muster a playoff challenge. Like the Kings, the Wolves will benefit in the event the Thunder take a step backward as well.

Sacramento and Minnesota split their season series in 2018-19, with the former finishing three games better in the win column when all was said and done.

Earning at least another regular-season split could go some way toward the Kings staying ahead of the Timberwolves in the standings. 

               

Prediction

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 27: Buddy Hield #24 and De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings look on during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 27, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Getting to the postseason in the Western Conference won't be any easier in 2020.

The Los Angeles Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and acquired Paul George to become the early title favorites.

The Los Angeles Lakers surely won't miss the postseason again after adding Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James. The aforementioned Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks should all be better.

Those teams all finished eighth or worse a year ago.

The Kings front office was right to make incremental signings that complement the young core rather than swing for the fences with an earth-shattering signing or trade.

Fox allayed any early fears about his long-term suitability as the starting point guard. Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles could mimic Fox in accelerating their development in Year 2. Hield is eligible for restricted free agency and thus has a strong incentive to put together a career year.

Despite all of that, the Kings may end up worse off than they were in 2019 because so many other West teams are attempting to capitalize on the Golden State Warriors' recalibration. Sacramento could end up getting squeezed out.

Record Prediction: 37-45