With the full slate of games in the upcoming 2021-22 season finally released, it may come as a shock to some the Sacramento Kings have received no nationally televised games. This comes as little surprise after the Kings failed to improve on a 31-41 record following a year with no nationally televised games outside of NBA TV.
As many fans begrudgingly are already well-aware, Sacramento has failed to post a winning record and make a postseason performance since 2006. This lack of success is an understandable yet lackluster explanation for why the Kings wouldn’t get the attention I believe they deserve.
The Los Angeles Lakers lead the league with 29 games on ESPN, ABC, and TNT this year with the Warriors, Nets, and defending champion Bucks right behind them. It makes sense to me to put these high-profile teams in the limelight. What doesn’t make sense to me is some of the NBA’s other decisions in regards to which teams get nationally televised games.
Although the Sacramento Kings have assembled a promising young core, you won’t find them on national television during the 2021-22 season.
The New Orleans Pelicans have posted a losing record in 8 of their last 10 seasons. The Charlotte Hornets (and then, Bobcats) have only had a winning percentage above .500 in 3 of their last 17 seasons. The Bulls and Grizzlies have each been in the draft lottery for four straight seasons. So it’s clear that failing to win basketball games is a precursor to getting left off of national television.
Why did these teams get put on national television? The answer is simple, Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball, Zach LaVine, and Ja Morant are some of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA right now. Who wouldn’t want to see those guys on primetime TV?
And for that reason, this is where the NBA’s line of thinking loses me. Is De’Aaron Fox—an undeniable top 10 point guard in the league—not exciting? Does Tyrese Haliburton not excite you after being named All-Rookie First Team and putting together a compelling case for Rookie of the Year before going down to injury? Was winning the NCAA tournament and the Summer League championship not enough for Davion Mitchell? Are you not entertained?
It’s clear this team has yet to accumulate the talent necessary to make a push to contention, but I don’t believe the Sacramento Kings are nearly bad as they’re being out to be. I mean, finishing with a record of 31-41 in two years of rebuilding is actually quite impressive. If that’s the floor for this team, I can’t imagine how high the ceiling is.
If this team starts compiling big numbers in the win column, I have no doubt the NBA will change their tune and add nationally televised games for Sacramento to the schedule. Now. it’s just up to the Kings to rise to the challenge and earn that attention on the biggest stage.