Lakers target ‘inexperienced’ kings in playoff series, according to Brian Windhorst

Windhorst: Lakers targeting ‘inexperienced’ kings in playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Kings’ early rebellion in the 2022-23 NBA season came as a shock to the league but was dismissed by many who predicted their success would quickly fade. It has not.

Sacramento currently has a 33-25 record, good enough for third place in the loaded West. They’ve upset teams and competed in historic competitions this season, but managed to stay grounded and focused on overcoming a franchise’s 16-year playoff drought.

Still, the respect isn’t returned, even at this point in the season. Coach Mike Brown knew the Kings would be “hunted” down the final stretch, but it seems one Western Conference team is already putting a target on their backs.

The Los Angeles Lakers, currently sitting 12th in the conference, are reportedly looking to take on the Kings in a first-round playoff series.

“The reason that [Lakers coach] Darvin Ham speaks of sixth [seed]They’re going after the Sacramento Kings,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told Get Up Monday morning. “The Sacramento Kings are in third place, I think they’re very likely to be third – that’s the team they want in the first round, an inexperienced team.

“It’s your dream scenario. If you’re a Lakers fan, you dream of somehow finishing sixth against the Kings because you could find yourself in a more difficult situation if you fall elsewhere in the bracket.

It’s an interesting take for a team that’s not even in play-in competition yet. Of course, there is still enough time to change that.

Windhorst notes that the Lakers’ schedule compares “favorably” to other teams’ upcoming schedules. But if Los Angeles has any hope of moving from 12th to sixth, as it reportedly desires, it will need its star players off the bench and on the floor.

If LeBron James and Anthony Davis can stay healthy for the majority of the Lakers’ remaining 21 games, Windhorst believes their schedule will give them “a window to make something happen.”

Windhorst also appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning to further break down Ham and the Lakers’ playoff dream scenario.

“The Lakers have a specific goal in mind,” said Windhorst. “Darvin Ham said you can come up to six, he wanted to put that on the platter to put the carrot out there. There’s a reason why. It looks to me and most of the league that the Sacramento Kings will make the playoffs for the first time in a generation, and it looks to me like they’ll be in the top three [seed].

“With all due respect to De’aaron Fox, who had his seventh straight 30-point game yesterday, the team you’re targeting is the Sacramento Kings. So the Lakers say, “Let’s go to Sacramento,” and I agree. I think if their roster is put together the way it is now, they’ll be in the top six in the Western Conference.”

The Lakers have won three straight games and hold a 29-32 record.

Some of their next matchups will be against teams like the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks who are continuing their promotion and relegation seasons. Teams slated for the play-in tournament include the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz — all teams that on paper should be relatively easy opponents for the Lakers.

And when it comes to a Lakers-Kings playoff series, First Take host Stephen A. Smith chimed in on who he would take to advance to the second round.

“Young teams don’t win,” said Smith. “If you look at a team like Sacramento, which I’m very, very impressed with. Mike Brown is my breakaway coach of the year. De’aaron Fox, that’s the only argument Magic Johnson and I have ever gotten into, I said, ‘Draft De’aaron Fox, not Lonzo [Ball].’ Now I know Lonzo was injured and we wish him good health, but I don’t care if he was healthy. He’s not De’aaron Fox. I’ll tell you right away.

“And Malik Monk, I’m so proud of that brother. Boy, is he playing. Why didn’t the Lakers keep him? Just saying. Sacramento is relatively young. And in a playoff series between Sacramento and LA — when both teams are healthy – I’m going with the Lakers.

RELATED: Relentless Kings make statement for the NBA with a 3-0 start after the break

While the Lakers — and apparently the rest of the NBA world — might consider the Kings an easy matchup, recent history says otherwise. Sacramento won the regular-season series against Los Angeles that season, 3-1, with the only loss coming by two points.

The Kings did an incredible job all season proving the outside world wrong, and that probably won’t change in the playoffs. Lakers target ‘inexperienced’ kings in playoff series, according to Brian Windhorst

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