A Clippers loss on Monday night was good news for the Kings, who have now passed in L.A. in the Western Conference standings by percentage points.
At 30-26, the Kings currently hold the No. 8 position in the West, followed closely by the Clippers (31-27), with the Lakers (28-28) also lingering.
For much of the season, the general consensus on Sacramento has been that the young club is a great story, but will ultimately fall short of the postseason. While that may still be the case, we’re more than two-thirds of the way through the season, and the Kings deserve to be taken seriously.
Having been led by youngsters De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Bogdan Bogdanovic all season, the Kings added reinforcements at the trade deadline by trading for Harrison Barnes and are aiming to earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
However, even after trading away Tobias Harris, the Clippers aren’t about to roll over and give up their own hunt for a postseason slot. The team still has two other players who are nearly scoring 20 points per game – Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams – and features one of the deepest, most diverse rotations in the NBA.
The Clips are getting contributions from youngsters – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, Montrezl Harrell, and Ivica Zubac – and veterans – Gallinari, Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Garrett Temple – alike, and have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the West, per Tankathon.com.
Of course, of these three playoff contenders, the Lakers are the team league observers believed would be the best bet to finish in the West’s top eight. LeBron James hasn’t missed the postseason since 2005 and hasn’t missed the Finals since 2010. However, the Lakers struggled during his month-long absence with a groin injury and a playoff berth is far from a lock.
What do you think? Which of these three teams do you expect to make the playoffs in the West? Do you think more than one of them will ultimately end up in the top eight, knocking out a team like the Spurs or Jazz? Will a dark horse club like the Timberwolves or Mavericks make a run and prevent any of these three from reaching the postseason?
Vote in our poll, then share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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