Forty-two games into the season, the Kings have a 24-18 record, holding the seventh seed in the Western Conference. That is the same record they had last season after the same number of games.
It is a solid record and means that the team is on track to replicate last season’s win total with pretty much the same roster. Nevertheless, this season feels much different than the last to fans and the team alike.
So, let’s look at three reasons this is the case.
3. Higher expectations and no surprises
Last season was full of surprises. The Kings ran the highest-scoring offense in league history at that point. De’Aaron Fox played the best basketball of his career. Sacramento finally had a top pick work out, and Keegan Murray had an immediate impact.
The Kings were winning. After sixteen long seasons stuck at the bottom of the league, any kind of success was a blessing. Now, expectations are higher.
We got used to a certain standard and expected improvement. Winning at the same rate just doesn’t feel the same because we expected this team to take a jump and because beating certain teams is not a surprise anymore. It is an expectation.
Plus, the Western Conference landscape has shifted. Not only are there several superstars in the West but a lot of teams have vastly improved. The Thunder and the Timberwolves were in the Play-In Tournament last season. Now, they are the two top seeds in the West.
The Pelicans were also not in the playoffs last season but are now holding the sixth seed. Dallas tanked late last year and is now competing again. There are more teams in the mix, meaning the same record now puts the Kings in a lower seed.
Of course, that creates a different sense of success.