It’s not like the Golden State Warriors haven’t been close to winning. After a painful loss in overtime to the New York Knicks, the Warriors followed up with a strong first half performance on Friday before collecting another “L” courtesy of the Utah Jazz.
Their 22nd loss, to just five wins.
It’s not like the team is totally hopeless. The occasional bursts have begun to show more frequently. Whether it be Marquesse Chriss - who turned in a pretty fantastic performance with 12 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks - or the surprisingly steadying hand of Alec Burks, the Warriors are hanging around.
Their failures are occuring at the end of games (mostly). According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, the Warriors are now a cumulative -45 in 46 clutch minutes this season.
So, onward rolls the tank!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (5-22) vs Sacramento Kings (11-14)
WHEN: Sunday December 15, 2019; 5:30 pm PST
WHERE: Chase Center Arena - San Francisco, CA
WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area
Blog Buddy: Sactown Royalty
Are the Kings finally climbing out of the cellar?
The Sacramento Kings have not exactly exemplified excellence over the past decade or two. Be it assembling a roster that was seemingly composed of 90% Power Forwards or making head-scratching organizational decisions (like say, firing a successful head coach in the middle of a losing streak while your star player was out with a random illness), this is a franchise known for it’s hilarious consistency in mediocracy.
But perhaps it’s all stabilizing?
The ninth seed right now, the Kings have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs this season. They are just a half game behind the two teams tied for seventh and eighth - neither of which are especially solid (the upstart Phoenix Suns and wonky Oklahoma City Thunder).
Luke Walton has taken over as coach for Sacramento this year. Looking at the numbers, the most shocking change is that he took them from one of the fastest teams in the league last year and turned them into the slowest team this year. They are averaging just 97 possessions per game as per basketball reference.
The Kings have an extremely dynamic young backcourt. Led by the team’s top two scorers - Buddy Hield (22 points, 5 rebounds) and De’Aaron Fox (18 points, 7 assists) - this is a Kings team that is poised for continual improvement.
Right now, they are still in flux a bit, but even a mediocre team should easily overpower this Golden State Warriors team. Just so you can get a picture of this team’s strengths and weaknesses, here are their four factors on offense and defense - note that the bottom row shows their respective NBA rank in each category.
Warriors are not climbing out of the cellar any time soon
There aren’t a lot of mysteries here. We all know how and why Golden State is so bad this season. I’d love to be the one pitching shovelfuls of hope towards your eyeballs as I write this, but I’m not going to lie. It's going to take a miracle for the Warriors to win tonight.
As we’ve detailed here previously, starting point guard Ky Bowman is running out of allowed days in the NBA. Due to the intricacies of his two-way contract, the Warriors only have about 13 days left for Bowman to play with the team prior to the end of the D league season (at the end of March). In case you missed it, Bowman did some damage in his first game down in Santa Cruz:
Ky Bowman’s G League debut with the Santa Cruz Warriors = 27 points (10-for-16 FG, 4-for-7 3s), 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, Sea Dubs win 130-114 pic.twitter.com/iFHet5NsY4— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 14, 2019
So maybe he plays or maybe the Warriors opt to conserve as many days as possible while awaiting the return of either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. As much as a win now would be nice, I could also see the Warriors deferring the joy until the team is a little closer to full strength so the season ends on a positive, winning note.
The new look frontcourt of Kevon Looney and Marquesse Chriss is still developing, but looks more promising than whatever Willie Cauley-Stein has been giving us. Watch Cauley-Stein in this game, he’s going to go extra hard at his old team - he’s thrown subtle, and not-so-subtle shade at the Kings since he left. But whether that additional intent helps or hurts the team is an unknown.
For Looney, his return has been a bit rocky. While working his way back into game shape, he has been less than stellar with just 3 points and 2.3 rebounds in slightly over 11 minutes per game.
No update was available on either Draymond Green (who sat out the last game for “rest”) or Eric Paschall (out with hip tightness) at time of writing.
Golden State is going to win this game at home, because that’s what winners do. They win.
You got that, Golden State? Be a winner!
Thankfully for everyone, if they don’t win it helps the tank. But that thin blanket of comfort is getting thinner and thinner as all these losses pile up.