The NBA is set to return at the end of the month, and 22 of the league’s 30 teams will complete the season at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Over the next few weeks, hypothetical scenarios will be released to examine how each of the remaining 22 teams could win the NBA title. One of the more interesting cases belong to the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings have a nice young core with De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, and Buddy Hield, but they have struggled to sustain success, as Sacramento has failed to make the playoffs every year since 2006. In our scenario, however, that streak is finally snapped.
Entering the final eight games of the regular season, the Kings sit 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot, which would put them into a play-in tournament if they can finish one game better than the Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans.
The Kings were hot before the pandemic hit and pick up right where they left off when the season resumes in Orlando.
De’Aaron Fox leads a fast-paced Sacramento offense into a play-in tournament by going 7-1 in the final eight games, snatching the eighth seed in that tournament with Memphis.
The Grizzlies take the first of the play-in series, but the Kings rebound to advance from the winner-take-all second play-in game.
In the first round, the Kings take on the Los Angeles Lakers, who seem to be prematurely looking ahead to the next round, allowing Sacramento to jump out to a 2-0 series lead. LeBron James and the Lakers make a push, but Hield’s 40-point outburst (7-8 from three) in Game 6 is enough to put away the Lakers and pull off the stunning upset.
In round two, the Kings are matched up with a team that has become very familiar in this series, the Houston Rockets. The Rockets will struggle to contain Bagley with their small-ball lineup, and eventually, the shooting runs cold for Houston and the Kings continue their improbable run.
The Western Conference Finals pits the Kings against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. Once again, it becomes time for the former Kentucky point guard, Fox to take over a series. And when called upon, he does just that. After dropping the first two games, the Kings fight back to even the series at two apiece. The Clippers take Game 5, but Game 6 and Game 7 are won by a strong all-around effort and some clutch shots by Fox down the stretch.
Now comes the most difficult part—finishing. Sacramento has waited a long time for a team that has a chance to win a title, with the franchise’s only NBA title coming in 1951, 34 years before moving to Sacramento.
Only the Miami Heat stand in their way.
The first two games are easily won by Miami, with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo dominating on both ends of the floor. But once again, the Kings refuse to go down without a fight. Fox, Hield, and Bagley fight back and help the Kings to turn the tide of the series, taking the next two games in convincing fashion.
In Game 5, the Heat lead almost wire-to-wire, with Sacramento hanging around, trailing by nearly 10 points for much of the game. But in the fourth quarter, the Kings come alive, going on a 17-2 run to keep momentum on their side and take a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 is not nearly as exciting, as the Kings are able to use the momentum from the previous three wins to knock the Heat down early, cruise to a 12-point victory, and win the 2020 NBA title.