The Sacramento Kings Are Focusing on a Brighter, Younger Future
Hold the mayo Sacramento Kings fans – seriously put down the jar.
It looks like your team is starting to find their identity. The Kings are 5-6 in the month of March, including two close, hard fought losses against the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, and are showing glimpses of being an average NBA team – a step up from the train wreck they’ve been for the better part of this season and the century.
You know, there's food you can put that on. pic.twitter.com/HEUo2DVfXp
— ESPN (@espn) March 20, 2018
With that in mind, here are three takeaways from the past month that might make Kings fans more hopeful about the direction of their franchise:
1. It’s All About the Guards
As the League continues to evolve, there is more and more proof that teams with an elite starting backcourt generally have the most success.
The King’s backcourt of Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are starting to look like a force to be reckoned with. Bogdanovic is a versatile playmaker – an elite shooter – who can make plays off the dribble and is arguably the Kings most important player. De’Aaron Fox is as quick as they come, can get separation from any defender, has high basketball IQ and has shown he can hit clutch shot after clutch shot – a young player fully capable of one day becoming an All-Star in this League.
As for Buddy Hield, he is a great spot up shooter, seems to never take a play off and as of late, has been rebounding and assisting well.
2. Young Guns Leading the Charge
Head Coach Dave Joerger and company are starting to learn that when their young guys are getting minutes, they improve.
In fact, the Kings now lead the Association in highest percentage of minutes played by rookies and 2nd year players, they improve. It is no coincidence that with George Hill out of the picture and Zach Randolph’s minutes being reduced – averaging 23.6 minutes in March versus 27.4-minutes in February – has translated into more wins, a better defensive rating and better performances from their young guys, specifically Fox, Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere.
Though less playing time for Randolph might hurt their lottery odds, the Kings will be better off with less of his disruptive flow and will provide their young guys with more of an opportunity to develop a quicker paced game and more of a winning mentality.
With that said, not all of the Kings’ veterans have been stifling the growth of their young guns as Vince Carter and Garrett Temple have both been nice complementary pieces that have helped in player development.
3. Promising Front Court
Despite making plenty of mistakes early on in the year, Labissiere’s increased minutes in recent games have helped him start to figure things out.
For a big man, he’s very athletic, shoots the ball well, utilizes a nice baby hook, and has been solid on the offensive glass as of late. If he can add some weight and muscle in the offseason, there is no reason why he cannot be a plus defender and be an integral part of the Kings’ future. Though he has struggled at times pairing up with Willie Cauley-Stein, it will be interesting to see how he and Harry Giles fare in the Kings’ frontcourt next year.
If the Kings can pick up a quality player in the 2018 lottery, make a free agent signing to address their frontcourt needs – maybe someone of the calibre of a Julius Randle – their young core can continue to make incremental improvements, a seventh or eighth seed should not be out of the question within the next two years.