Sacramento Kings: Injuries Must Be Avoided

Sacramento Kings Bench (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings Bench (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With expectations high for the upcoming season, what could cause the Sacramento Kings fall short of their goals?

There are high hopes and expectations for the Sacramento Kings this season. General manager Vlade Divac has put together a solid mix of young and veteran players in hopes that the Kings can end the longest current postseason drought in the NBA.

When Vivek Ranadive bought the team, he made a promise to the fans: “The Kings will be a competitive team again.”  Is this the season Ranadive fulfills that promise? Can Sacramento become a fixture in the playoffs?

One thing that can derail Sacramento’s playoff hopes are injuries. Injuries are a teams biggest nightmare, as we saw last year with both the Lakers and the Warriors.

Lakers Injuries

History has shown that injuries can take a team expected to compete for the title and drop them into the lottery. The 2018-19 Lakers are an example of what can happen to a team plagued with injuries.

Did the Lakers have a chance to win a title?  Most analysts would say no, but the postseason was a realistic expectation for LeBron James‘ first campaign with Lakers. The team encountered a plethora of injuries throughout the season, the most damaging one occurring to LeBron himself. James missed a total of 27 games, a majority of them down the stretch when the Lakers were looking to make a playoff push. Their efforts eventually fell short.

Warriors Injuries

The world was watching during the playoffs as the Warriors deflated like a balloon after losing Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson with major injuries.  We saw Golden State’s title hopes vanish while allowing Canada’s dream of bringing a title to a foreign country come true. Durant is gone, but the Warriors are still feeling the effects of the Thompson injury. Thus, the Warriors are no longer the same caliber threat as they have been for years, as Thompson is expected to miss at least the first half of the upcoming season.  The once-mighty franchise by the Bay are no longer title favorites as they have been for every season in recent memory.

The Kings have as Harry Giles has been brought along slowly after being drafted with a history of knee problems.  Bagley remained on the injured list beyond his return date more than once.  These examples of how management value the long term health and goal of the team over a quick return.  Injury is part of the game that every team has to deal with during the season and the playoffs.  What the purple and white can do is limit the chances.  Divac and staff want to see if Harry Giles can stay healthy and contribute to the team.  Will he be good enough to be part of the Kings long term plan?  A preseason game is not the time to find out.

The Kings Conditioning & Training Must Be Proactive.

When Sacramento had Manny Romero and Pete Youngman working with the players, the organization had two respected trainers with plenty of years of experience.  In their application of conditioning, Pete and Manny used many new techniques backed by science to keep players from incurring injuries in the first place.

During their stints in Sacramento, they were responsible for keeping then-Kings star DeMarcus Cousins injury free. Cousins played seven seasons without missing any major time due to injury. As soon as he left Sacramento, Cousins became plagued with issues to his ankle and knee. His first injury derailed the high hopes of a New Orleans Pelicans team, and they suffered a first round playoff exit. One might argue that Boogie’s injuries wouldn’t have happened had he still been with the Kings.

Over the years the Kings have been mocked for being a small town, poorly run organization.  Most of the criticism was true as the front office has been understaffed, or under qualified for their positions since coming to Sacramento.  One area Sacramento has been praised as first class has been the trainers and medical staff.

With the departure of Youngman and Romero, the Kings training staff must remain adequate and professional. They are younger professionals in the business, some whom worked with the prior staff.  The Kings need De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, Dewayne Dedmon and others to remain healthy.  Any core player missing time for a long stretch would impact the team’s chances to make the postseason.

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Use The Deep Roster To Stay Fresh

With new head coach Luke Walton wanting to run a faster pace than most other teams in the league, he must keep players fresh by reaching deep into his bench. This would help cut the risk of fatigue which could lead to injuries.  Will the rotation be ten to twelve players?  Will that affect the chemistry of the team leading to turnovers?  Walton has stated that a twelve man rotation is un-likely, and a ten man rotation would be reasonable for a fast-paced Sacramento group.  Having a bench with players ready to take over at a moments notice is the advantage the Kings must use.  Resting players for a game here and there will allow the team to stay fresh and appease the issues.