Up next, we break down another team that has been stuck in mediocrity for a while, the Sacramento Kings. As a matter of fact, they haven't reached the Western Conference playoffs since 2006, which happens to be the longest active streak in the NBA. This is largely due to very poor draft and trade decisions, and there are too many of them to even remember at this point. Nonetheless, the Kings surprised a lot of people last year by crawling into the playoff hunt, only to be surpassed by over teams within the final month of the season. Can this year's squad end the playoff drought? Let's find out.
2019-20 Sacramento Kings Season Outlook
Key Additions: Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, Richaun Holmes, Tyler Lydon, Cory Joseph
Key Subtractions: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Frank Mason III, Kosta Koufos
Draft: Justin James, Kyle Guy
Coach: Luke Walton
After a successful season under Dave Joerger, the Kings decided to make a head coaching change for what feels like the billionth time and brought in Luke Walton after his unsuccessful era with the Lakers. Bringing Walton in is a good move for the Kings, as I think he's a better coach than he's given credit for. The major splash of the Kings' offseason was re-signing Harrison Barnes to a large five-year extension, to which, in typical Kings fashion, they are reportedly already regretting. It wasn't a bad move but it does seem a little long and overpaid, but Barnes is still a very solid, starting-caliber player. Aside from Barnes, the Kings made a lot of win-now moves, but I don't necessarily see these moves helping out a lot. I like the signing of Dedmon, he's a very underrated center and is coming off of some great seasons in Atlanta. Richaun Holmes is also coming off of a solid season in Phoenix, and will be a good rim protector for Sacramento. Aside from that, they overpaid Cory Joseph to essentially be the back-up point guard, and he's coming off of a year in which he regressed. Same can be said for Trevor Ariza, who the Kings brought in on a two-year, $25 million deal, and at 34 years old, he's bound to continue the slight regression we saw from him last season. Furthermore, it creates a logjam between other wing players on the Kings, so I can't see him receiving a large load of minutes with Sacramento. On the bright side, Sacramento didn't really lose any major contributors this summer. Willie Cauley-Stein is their most notable loss, but his workload regressed as the season went on, and his departure was inevitable anyways.
The Kings have a great young core that they're building around, and that core showed major signs of life last season which was a major reason to their success. De'Aaron Fox is the walking highlight reel of the team and had a great sophomore season, improving everywhere on the court. He looked much more comfortable running the offense and wasn't afraid of the big moment at all, and he does look like a budding star in the making. His backcourt buddy, Buddy Hield, also had a great season and cemented himself as one of the best shooters in the league while being the scoring leader for the Kings. However, his start to the season is rocky, as he's in a messy contract dispute, but both sides believe that a deal can be done. I believe he's worth the $110 million he's asking for, especially given the state of the league and how the Kings have shelled out money to players within the last year (see Barnes, Harrison). The third core piece is Marvin Bagley III, who showed continuous improvement in his rookie season last year. He's still a little unpolished on both ends, but with more opportunities under his belt, he should improve even more from his first season. I'm a big believer in his future and am really excited to see how he'll progress in his second season. Bogdan Bogdanovic is another Kings player who I think has a bright future in this league, and he's been a key part of their 2nd unit over the course of his short career. Given the circumstances of the Kings' offseason, he'll likely stay on that bench unit, and hopefully the signing of Ariza doesn't take away major minutes from him.
Final Outlook on the 2019-20 Sacramento Kings
The Kings are another team in the Western Conference that has an abundance of young talent, and they could be a dangerous squad down the road. However, in a conference full of established teams, the Kings are once again going to have a tough time competing for a playoff berth. The trio of Fox, Hield, and Bagley is really promising, and while they do have serviceable depth at each position, it's not on the same level as other playoff contenders such as the Nuggets or the Clippers. I do think that Fox will be a contender for the All-Star Game this season, and I definitely believe Marvin Bagley will be in the conversation for Most Improved Player. But that's probably the best thing that the Kings will accomplish this season; I have them slated for a 34-48 record and another season where the playoffs will not be played in Sac-Town.