Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 4, 2008
The subplot of the subpar in the West

The losers need to start winning.
You Kings faithful want to see your team in the playoffs (and you may as well, since you're not going to see a top five - or maybe even top 10 - pick at this rate)? Then tell the bottom feeders of the Western Conference to pick it up, the Clipper-types or Memphis, Seattle and Minnesota. And if they don't? Even a furious Kings finish to this season could mean nothing more than an atta-boy and the same old scheduled ending date of April 15.
Now to be clear, any notion of playoff talk from the Kings should elicit immediate Jim Mora references. With two games left on this homestand (Seattle Wednesday and Utah Friday), they're better served doing what they're doing, which is focusing on .500 and maintaining a groove from there.
And the reason playoff talk remains far-fetched isn't just because the Western Conference is as strong as ever, it's because it is as weak as ever too. The Clippers, Memphis, Seattle and Minnesota all woke up Monday morning with 14 wins or less, a ridiculously low total considering it's early February (by comparison, only New York and Miami in the East had 14 or less). Rocket science statement of the day: all those losses are wins for someone else. Thus, you have this this reality in the standings: teams like Portland (27-19) and Houston (27-20) sitting in ninth and 10th place, respectively, while the Kings (22-24) are 11th.
Now the Kings can only hope the loser lot follows the Timberwolves' lead, as Minnesota has finally figured things out recently and won five of their last seven games - including a win over eighth place Golden State. Seattle has won three straight, too, with one coming against sixth place San Antonio. It's that sort of chipping away at the teams in playoff position that will help the Kings. It stops there, though, as Memphis has lost four of their last five games and will only get worse without Pau Gasol. The Clippers have lost five of their last six.
Now with the knowledge that there are 36 games left for all this to sort itself out, here's a look back at the records of the last 15 No. 8 seeds in the West. That saying about history repeating itself? The Kings can only hope this somehow turns out to be the 1996-97 campaign all over again.

2006-07: Golden State, 42-40
2005-06: Kings, 44-38
2004-05: Memphis, 45-37
2003-04: Denver, 43-39
2002-03: Phoenix, 44-38
2001-02: Utah, 44-38
2000-01: Minnesota, 47-35
1999-00: Kings, 44-38
1998-99: Seattle, 25-25
1997-98: Houston 41-41
1996-97: Clippers, 36-46 (three teams under .500 made it)
1995-96: Kings, 39-43
1994-95: Denver, 41-41
1993-94: Denver, 42-40
1992-93: Lakers, 39-43

- Sam Amick

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