Like every year, Basket USA offers a presentation of the NBA season and the 30 franchises in the form of a countdown, from 30th place to our favorite for the title of NBA champion. After Oklahoma City and New York on Friday, we land in California with the Kings who are on the verge of equaling the Clippers for the longest series of famine, that is to say without the playoffs, in the history of the league. (14 seasons, ongoing series)…
Their offseason has not given much cause for optimism with the departure of Bogdan Bogdanovic for Atlanta and the return of Kent Bazemore to Golden State. The real good news is De’Aaron Fox’s contract extension. But it is very light to hope to rally the playoffs in a Western conference which has been further strengthened.
THE PLAYOFFS ON TELEVISION EVERY YEAR
Exciting at times and even very close to the playoffs in the last two seasons, the Kings are however forced to watch the playoffs on television, year after year. And it has been going on for fourteen years now! Realize, the last time Sacramento fans got their bells out for a playoff duel, Metta Sandiford-Artest was called Ron Artest and De’Aaron Fox was 8!
Over the past fourteen seasons, Sacramento has achieved the “feat” of being below the league’s defensive average, in points conceded per possession, making it the worst streak in history, by far (six years older than his pursuer). At the same time, the Kings’ offense is not doing much better, also not reaching the average for seven years! This is to say the ambient mediocrity for the club of Luke Walton who experienced the worst difficulties in finding solutions last season.
It also shows the sacred challenge facing the new GM, Monte McNair, in place since last September. The offseason moves suggest the Kings are changing direction again, but still around the Fox – Bagley duo. The rest ? A big blur, not very artistic …
TALENT TO BE IMPLEMENTED
When we look at the Kings’ offseason, and their current squad, we certainly realize that the departures of Bogdan Bogdanovic (but his massive contract would have blocked the club’s finances) and Kent Bazemore (solid veteran who had quickly become the best outside defender) are obviously detrimental, but Coach Walton still has talent on hand.
First on the external stations. There is of course De’Aaron Fox, the Kings’ obvious franchise player, with his percussion speed and his arsenal of leader that falls into place. At 21 points and 7 assists last season, at just 22, he’s going to be the general-in-chief on the field, and will likely have to be away as well. At his side, Buddy Hield will immediately regain a starting place at the back and if his talent as a pure scorer is no longer to be proven, the winner of the last 3-point shooting competition will have to find a field of ‘agreement with his “coaching staff”, he who did not hide his desires elsewhere all last season.
The Draft also brought a great talent in Tyrese Haliburton, a “combo guard” in the paces of Shaun Livingston, as well as Glenn Robinson III who has also just arrived to revive. On the wings, it is Harrison Barnes who will occupy the majority of the minutes in front of Jabari Parker, the frenzied attacker without any defensive appetite. The latter could even be beaten in the rotation by Daquan Jeffries, who the franchise has extended for two years. Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes also stayed in place and will be important in solidifying Luke Walton’s rotation, respectively stretching defenses and offering resistance as the circle approaches.
Under the panels, it is the return of a former member of the house, Hassan Whiteside, which raises questions. Signed for the minimum veteran, the pivot-blocker returns to Sacramento with the idea of proving his worth but, at 31, and with his inability to influence the results of his team (in other words, only obsessed with his own stats), it is hard to see it being part of the Californian project over time. Conversely, Marvin Bagley III will be the interior keystone of the Kings in the future, with his potential on both sides of the field … if his body allows it!
In a Western conference which still does not drop in level, Sacramento seems resolutely right to hold the shock and invite itself in the playoffs. It would take a little coaching miracle from Luke Walton for the Kings to qualify …
THE SUMMER MOVEMENTS
Arrivals : Tyrese Haliburton, De’Aaron Fox, Daquan Jeffries, Hassan Whiteside (Blazers)
Departures : Harry Giles (Blazers), Kent Bazemore (Warriors), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Hawks)
THE PLAYER TO WATCH: MARVIN BAGLEY III
Drafted very high, in 2nd choice, in 2018, Marvin Bagley III seemed capable of fulfilling all his promises during his first campaign, concluded at 15 points and 7 rebounds, named in the best five rookie. But, appearing only 13 times last season because of an injury to the right thumb first, then to the right foot then, the former Duke has more squatted the infirmary than the NBA floors.
Still, the Kings ensured by exercising their option on his fourth year of contract, locking his presence for the next two seasons. This is a fundamental point to create continuity this year with De’Aaron Fox. Their duo are to form the Kings’ major axis going forward, with Marvin Bagley’s ability to play both near and far from the circle.
In fact, with the arrival of Alvin Gentry in the staff of Luke Walton (the two men who worked together at Golden State), the Kings hope to find some of the magic of the Warriors and this very airy game (the ” 5 out ”) with Marvin Bagley at the center of the device, as a mobile and versatile interior. Health and progress from within will therefore be the sine qua non of the Kings’ success this season. But even more in the future …
AVERAGE AGE: 24.8 years
SALARY MASS: 109.5 million (27th out of 30)
|15 – Cleveland
|14 – Detroit
|13 – New York
|15 – Oklahoma City
|14 – Sacramento