The Sacramento Kings are in perfect position to win first NBA Cup

Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) celebrates with guard De'Aaron Fox. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) celebrates with guard De'Aaron Fox. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA is introducing a new in-season tournament for the 2023-24 season, as Adam Silver is looking to make the regular season more interesting. The Sacramento Kings look to be the first NBA Cup winners and have a better shot than anybody.

This tournament will split the 30 teams into six groups, where the five teams in each group play each other once. The team with the best record in those four games moves on, including two “wild card” teams from each conference. The eight teams remaining play a single-elimination tournament to determine the winner of the first inaugural NBA Cup.

The Sacramento Kings were placed in West Group C, which features the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs. This is a tough draw for the Kings, as they are surrounded by a proven championship team in the Warriors, a proven playoff-caliber team in the Timberwolves, and two young teams filled with talent in the Thunder and Spurs.

Why do the Kings have the best chance to come out of this group?

While the Kings will have to play each of those four teams once, they have a good chance to win all four games. Starting with the Thunder, Sacramento swept the 2022-23 season series with OKC, beating them three out of three times. The Thunder are practically returning their whole roster,  with two young additions in Chet Holmgren and Cason Wallace.

Playing against the Spurs last season, the Kings beat them two out of three times. The Spurs are building around number-one pick Victor Wembanyama from here on out, but Wembanyama will not be superstar-caliber from day one. The tournament is at the beginning of the season, so Wembanyama will not be comfortable enough to be a superstar-caliber player.

While the Warriors most recently beat the Kings in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, they struggled in the regular season. They had a mere 8-7 record in November of 2022, including one win and one loss against Sacramento. Golden State trading for Chris Paul is likely the most overrated move of the 2023 NBA off-season, as that will not put them back atop the Western Conference.

The Timberwolves had Sacramento’s number last season, beating them three out of four times. Similar to the Warriors, Minnesota had their struggles in the regular season. Highlighted by a 7-8 record in November, they were a middle-of-the-road team all season. The Timberwolves have made practically no improvements to their under-performing roster, so the season series will likely flip next year.

Why will the Kings be the first NBA Cup winners?

The Sacramento Kings were the best 2022-23 regular season team out of the West Group C members, and most importantly performed well at the beginning of the season. Sacramento had a 9-5 record in November, which included a 7-game win streak.

Assuming they will have to face the powerhouses of the Denver Nuggets or Phoenix Suns in the elimination rounds, the Kings have proven they can beat anybody, especially with an improved 2023-24 roster.

While the Kings got an unlucky group draw, they are in the best position to come out on top.

The NBA Cup does not mean as much as an NBA Championship, but this would set the tone for a long 2023-24 season and fuel the team to fight harder for the real deal. This young Sacramento squad needs a taste of winning, and a strong performance in the in-season tournament could kickstart a successful season.