The Sacramento Kings have tripped over themselves time and time again to start the season hit the ten-game mark on a winning streak, their first of the season. In those first ten games DeMarcus Cousins was outplayed in some ugly losses but displayed All-Star talent in others. Isaiah Thomas has outplayed starter Greivis Vasquez while Marcus Thornton — who sits one made three-pointer away from tying Doug Christie for all-time honors — has been jettisoned to the deep recesses of the bench. That bench has been anemic at best. That all changed Wednesday night.
The Kings’ bench chipped in 40 points in a 113-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns in the first road victory of the year for Sacramento. Isaiah Thomas continued his sixth-man campaign scoring 23 off the bench while Luc Richard Mbah A Moute added 11 and Jimmer Fredette — yes Jimmer — chipped in eight points. Sacramento will need more of that from its bench moving forward because the Suns aren’t exactly the biggest challenge in the Association. Phoenix also played without guard Eric Bledsoe who sat out both games against Sacramento.
The Kings are below .500 and sit at 4-7, but they aren’t the last horse to cross the finish line — only Utah has a worse record. Sacramento has displayed the qualities needed to be successful every game but need to finish games consistently. Their bench has been a non-factor as of late as the Kings fumbled away victories with careless turnovers and selfish play. Sacramento is staring down a long road as they face the Los Angeles Clippers twice in one week while a rematch against the rival Golden State Warriors should be another tough test. The Kings finish up their Western Conference gauntlet with games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Relying on its starters mainly isn’t a bad idea, but Sacramento will need to lean heavily on its bench like it did Wednesday. Head Coach Michael Malone still has no concrete idea what this team is made of, but until then the Kings would be best served going with the team approach that every coach desires. If a true ‘bench mob’ mentality begins to take shape Sacramento can right the ship and make a run at the playoffs.
How the Kings navigate their way through these next ten games goes a long way towards revealing if this team is capable of making a playoff push.