The 27-49 Sacramento Kings have two games in three days against the Houston Rockets, who at 20-57 are tied for the worst record in the NBA. This two-game series against the Rockets will have a big impact on the Kings NBA Draft Lottery odds, and the overall landscape of the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Rockets are currently tied with the Detriot Pistons and Orlando Magic for the best odds to land the #1 overall selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. The top three teams in the draft lottery have a 14% chance of landing the #1 selection. Sacramento currently sits at 6th in the NBA draft lottery order, with a 9% chance at the #1 overall selection. If they slip down one spot to the 7th worst record in the NBA, their odds at the first overall selection fall to 7.5%.
While the Kings, who currently sit at 13th place in the NBA western conference, do still have a mathematical chance at making the NBA Playoff Play-In tournament, their chances hinge on going undefeated in their final 6 games, while also relying on multiple teams to fare terribly. Essentially, the Kings are hoping to play well, but lose games to help draft lottery odds. Try telling that to the players on the court though … I think they want to WIN.
If the Kings win both of these games against the lowly Rockets, they will have gone 4-1 on their recent road trip. That would be without both of their stars De’Aaron Fox and Damontas Sabonis. While that would hinder their lottery chances, any sort of good showing on the court for the Kings gives them and the fanbase optimism going into the offseason. Or just hinders their chances at landing Jabari Smith or Paulo Banchero in the top 5 of the draft. Depends how ya look at it. Kinda like ALL things regarding being a Kings fan … it’s all how ya look at it.
Davion Mitchell Shining in Elevated Minutes
Sacramento Kings rookie guard Davion ‘Off-Night’ Mitchell has seen increased minutes and opportunity to start while Fox has been sidelined with a hand injury. Over his past 4 games, Mitchell has tallied 20+ points and 7+ assists. Mitchell and Trae Young are the only two rookies since 2013 to have attained that statistical feat!
Houston Two Step
I’m not well-versed in the science or art of tanking. Over the past few seasons, the Kings haven’t really shown their fans they can commit to winning or tanking. So, in their upcoming two games in three days against the Kings, I’m not sure if the Rockets are going to be purposely ‘tanking’ and how they will go about doing that if they wanted to. But if they were to try and tank, this would be a great time to do so for them.
Head to Head This Season
The season series is tied 1-1 so far between these two western conference bottom-dwellers. According to the robots over at StatMuse, Sacramento has shot 47.6% FG and 33.3% 3PT FG in their two games against the Rockets. The Kings tallied 16 steals in their 112-118 loss at home to the Rockets on 1/22/22. On the bright side, the Kings only turned the ball over 14 and 12 times in both their matchups versus the Rockets this season.
Things to Watch For
Increased minutes for Neemias Queta. A few weekends ago, I traveled down to the 209 to watch the Stockton Kings and Neemias Queta play against former Sacramento King Pooh Jeter and the G-League Ignite squad. Physically, Queta stood out amongst all the other players on the court. Neemy also looked very comfortable on the floor skill-wise. He needs to get more NBA experience and FAIL a bunch of times NOW. And then learn from those failures and continue to work to be ready to play more impactful minutes next season.
Along with his defensive prowess, Queta sets one heckuva screen! Watch out for how the Kings use Queta on offense, especially in the screen game!
How do Donte DiVincenzo and Davion Mitchell play together? The Kings shooting guard position has been in flux since … Kevin Martin? The Kings have bench depth at the shooting guard spot, with Donte DiVincenzo, Justin Holiday, Davion Mitchell, and the currently injured Terence Davis. They currently don’t have a ‘playoff caliber’ NBA starter at the shooting guard spot, in my opinion.
That’s not to say none of these guys can continue to improve and fill that starting role for a playoff/play-in bound Kings team in 2022-23. That is why these next few games, especially without Fox, will help the Kings sort out who should be on the roster at shooting guard to start the 2022-23 season.
I predict the Kings will go 1-1 on their two games in three days on the road against the Houston Rockets. It would be the truly Kings-y thing to do! Or maybe going 2-0 would be the most Kings-y. Depends on how ya look at it!
As ALWAYS … Go Sacramento Kings!