We all know that the Golden State Warriors run and reign supreme in the Western Conference, but there is another team out west that located in the same state as the Warriors and is about an hour and a half up the road.
That team is the Sacramento Kings who are currently outside side looking in on the playoff standings as they are ranked ninth in the conference standings. Even though Golden State swept them their regular season series, the Kings were able to take the reigning champs the distance each time.
In all four of the match-ups, the games went down to the wire and often a single or the very last possession. The margin of victory in all of the contest combine was a mere 12 points, that was capped off by narrow 123-125 defeat at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA on Feb.21.
While this can’t be dubbed a rivalry between the two California based teams just yet because that would require some parody and equilibrium in the win/loss ratio, it does signify a coming of age of a young team that has the pieces to make some noise in the West and give the Warriors fits on a regular basis.
They have emerged as a formidable opponent for the top teams in the conference and pose a legitimate threat to not just make the postseason with a strong finish to the regular season over the next month and a half but also establish themselves as viable contenders year in and year out.
The Kings young nucleus is headlined by rookie of the year candidate Marvin Bagley III, who has come on strong as of late and was the team’s first-round selection last year with the second overall pick. He has averaged nearly 20 points and about 10 rebounds over the month of February.
In two of the three games that he played against the Warriors, he recorded double-doubles with 20 or more points and at least 14 rebounds that included career-high 17 boards in their very first matchup.
Shooting guard Buddy Hield has provided a major spark for the Kings on offense this season and is up for most improved player of the year consideration as he has averaged over 20 points all season long.
The Kings’ first-round pick from two year’s ago De’Aaron Fox has averaged nearly 20 points this season and has been an excellent distributor of the ball, leading the team with over 400 assists.
Even Golden States’ own Draymond Green admitted that playing them hasn’t been a cakewalk by any means and even gave the up and coming Kings some praise after their last bout.
"At some point, it'll definitely be both of us in the playoffs. It may happen this year, they're right there, maybe not. We'll see, but it's coming soon. As far as a rivalry, man, they're talented. I think rivalry, no disrespect to them, but the other team got to win some games before it can really be a rivalry. But I have no doubt in my mind that that team is going to win a lot of games coming up here soon. Maybe not this year, who knows? But they're putting it together, they're doing a damn good job," said Green.