Just as predicting the Golden State Warriors' upcoming season based on the traditional metric of "Will they win the championship?" is a monumentally pointless exercise, so is asking any similar question of the Sacramento Kings. They are as easily predictable as the Warriors, because they are the same team every year -- no matter who's on it.
Nevertheless, let's play our game.
"Will they win half their games?" No. Of course not. Not even close. You don't get to be this bad for this long without having plans for being this bad awhile longer.
So what can we expect of the Kings? What are their capabilities, minimal though they might seem? Who are they, and what will we discuss when that annoying guy in the office snaps at all the LeBron and Durant conversations and brings up Marvin Bagley?
Well, here's what:
Coach Dave Joerger already is past Sacramento's sell-by date because he has coached 164 Kings games, putting him ahead of the following coaches in franchise history:
Joerger will last long enough to pass Paul Westphal on Oct. 30, but he needs three more years to pass Garry St. Jean and seven more years to pass Rick Adelman (including playoffs).
Joerger is easy money to pass Westphal, but he has no chance at the other two. Why? Sacramento. That's why.
At least for awhile, because of the corrosive nature of losing. Bagley and De'Aaron Fox and Harry Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovich (once he's healthy again) might enjoy the Sactown experience for awhile (and their joy somehow will be linked, largely unfairly, to the absence of DeMarcus Cousins), but this is the year in which they either grow together or grow apart.
See Dave Joerger for the tell on how this goes.
Because a day without saying "Z-Bo" is like a day without smiles.
See the Z-Bo item above.
THE OBLIGATORY VLADE DIVAC PRESSER
At some point, he will come out with his perpetually exhausted expression and explain why something has gone wrong and how it isn't actually wrong at all. People will nod and give their heartfelt "Yeah, whatevers," and then we'll all go back to our lives.
We're waiting for the Western Conference window to reopen in two years before we know if the Kings got this all right, but in the meantime, Vlade must explain how all is going according to plan while they are 10-23.
THE GOLDEN 1 HONEYMOON
The new arena has been filled for every game since it opened two years ago, but at some point, empty seats might be announced, or at the very least manifest themselves. The Kings have been such a persistent disappointment that the fan base will at some point make its feelings of ennui be heard, because nobody's patience is unlimited.
THE MISSING DRAFT PICK
The Kings are in some ways playing either for Boston or Philadelphia (if it ends up being No. 1), since their top pick reverts to one of those teams as part of the still epochal Rajon Rondo-Marco Belinelli-Kosta Koufos trade in 2015.
This means the Celtics and Sixers will attempt to run up the score each of the four times they play Sacramento, and the Kings will receive standing ovations in both cities this year. The Eastern Conference now runs through Sacramento, which makes sense since the Western Conference just runs over it.
OH, AND ATLANTA, TOO
The Hawks are trying to be even worse than the Kings to get the first pick. We should just mention that in passing.
The Kings' worst stretch in Sacramento was a decade ago, when they needed four seasons (2009-12) to win one season's worth of games. This won't be that, barring injury, surrender or revolt, but as much as young players say a team's history isn't theirs, the weight of such relentless organizational failure has its weight.
The Warriors felt it as they detached, slowly, from the Chris Cohan era, and the Kings feel it now. The task for them is to genuinely reinvent themselves while hearing "Same old Kings" every day. They need to make 30 wins feel like 50, as counterintuitive as that seems.
Then again, what are the Kings if not essentially counterintuitive?