The No. 8 seed in the Western Conference is up for grabs. Here are five reasons that the Sacramento Kings will make the 2017 Western Conference Playoffs.
As the 2016-17 NBA season flips over to the 2017 portion, we have to begin to accept that a sub-.500 team will end up making it into the Western Conference Playoffs. This is a yearly phenomenon that happens in the Eastern Conference, but rarely do 40-win teams end up making the playoffs out of the West.
The gap between the No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies and whomever ends up getting the No. 8 seed is vast. There are four teams in contention for the No. 8 seed: the Denver Nuggets, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Sacramento Kings.
Here are five reasons the Kings will end up being the team that has the distinct privilege to get swept by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 2017 Western Conference Playoffs.
5. The Denver Nuggets are still a year away
Let’s look at the eight teams that would in theory be vying for the No. 8 seed in the West. We can immediately cross off the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns. They are having abysmal seasons thus far. Realistically, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves have dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of and make the playoffs.
The fifth team to toss into that crew of teams not going to make it are the Pelicans. Do we really trust ownership and the New Orleans front office to put together a solid supporting cast around Anthony Davis? The Pelicans feel like they are one injury away from being totally out of it.
So that leaves us with Denver, Portland and Sacramento as the three most likely teams to get that No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. While Denver would absolutely benefit from making the Western Conference Playoffs, the Nuggets are honestly a year away from making them.
Denver is a low-ceiling team with a high floor. Who is the Nuggets star player to get them over the top? Can head coach Michael Malone rely on the often-injured Danilo Gallinari to win for Denver in crunch time? Denver has a ton of exciting players, but unless rookie Jamal Murray or second-year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay pop in the second half, the Nuggets won’t have the fire power to get that eighth seed. Maybe next year they get in, but not in 2017.