The Sacramento Kings are in a weird limbo following a season that was supposed to start a long rebuild. Their activity midway through the 2017 season indicated all the workings of a rejuvenation of the roster, beginning with DeMarcus Cousins being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. Buddy Hield became the focal point of the trade, a young shooter the Kings would be able to build a team around. In the wake of Cousins’ departure, a couple of the younger centers and forwards stepped up to show they could lead the franchise to a better image. However, this will all take time, and the Kings have already taken quality steps toward that goal.
The Kings successfully snagged four potential stars in the 2017 NBA Draft starting with their fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox. He’s been widely renowned as the next John Wall, and his style of play helps solidify that statement. Fox stands around 6-6 and although he’s pretty skinny at this point in his life, he could easily bulk up and become one of the fiercest guards to play against.
He’s lanky, quick, and crafty with the ball in his hands, qualities that Wall has exhibited since he was drafted in 2010. Fox is the only legitimate contender the Kings drafted as a prospective Rookie of the Year, but you never know how the other guys might shine too.
For instance, Justin Jackson has some good prospects to his name. He won the NCAA Tournament with the University of North Carolina in his junior season, a year in which he averaged 22.8 points per game to go with one of his best defensive ratings to date (102.2). Jackson fell just short of the lottery, but even as the 15th pick, he is just as lethal as the guys who came before him. He’ll likely be installed in the starting lineup right away, especially if the Kings plan on developing younger guys.
Harry Giles, who was originally projected to be drafted in the lottery, wound up falling to the 20th pick in the first round due to injury concerns. However, he has the potential to be a sneaky grab for the Kings as his career kicks off. Chances are, though, he will be designated to the G League until further notice since Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere have emerged as the Kings’ lead big men. Likewise, Frank Mason III is bound to end up in the G League since he’s already fallen behind Fox on the depth chart.
Free Agency maneuvers
Free agency is where the Kings are confusing much of the nation.
The Kings let Rudy Gay, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and Arron Afflalo walk and welcomed Zach Randolph, George Hill, and Vince Carter.
Carter and Randolph are both far past their prime, but the latter is still a bruiser in the paint. He will likely come off the bench since he has a history of injury and, from what we understand, the Kings are committed to this rebuild of theirs. Carter should be a nice mentor for the younger guards and forwards, and the same goes for Randolph with the young bigs. Hill can be an adequate teacher for Fox as well, but Hill is far from washed up at this point. He’s coming off a career year with the Utah Jazz and, clearly, he still has some quality basketball left in the tank.
Despite this confusing sequence 9sof signings, it seems the Kings were just looking to utilize their cap space wisely to accelerate the rebuilding process.
Potential Depth Chart(s)
If the Kings are focussed on development, then the depth chart should look as follows:
PG: De’Aaron Fox/George Hill/Frank Mason III
SG: Buddy Hield/Malachi Richardson/Garrett Temple
SF: Justin Jackson/Vince Carter
PF: Skal Labissierre/Zach Randolph
C: Willie Cauley-Stein/Kosta Koufos/Harry Giles/Georgios Papagiannis
However, if the Kings’ executives and coaching staff have high hopes for the playoffs this season, especially with new enforcement on resting players and tanking, the depth chart would look much different. It would take an appearance like this:
PG: George Hill/De’Aaron Fox/Frank Mason III
SG: Buddy Hield/Malachi Richardson
SF: Garrett Temple/Vince Carter/Justin Jackson
PF: Zach Randolph/Skal Labissiette
C: Kosta Koufos/Willie Cauley-Stein/Georgios Papagiannis/Harry Giles
Regardless, the Kings are by no means a superstar team, though with the veteran leadership they have on hand, there’s no telling how they end up performing.
The Kings have a 2018 second-round draft pick to their name this season. Depending on the circumstances, the Kings receive the more favorable of the second round picks they received from Portland, and the Denver Nuggets receive the less favorable pick. Second round picks do not often sway the future of a franchise, though when you look at guys like DeAndre Jordan, Draymond Green, and Isaiah Thomas, it seems anything could happen.
It doesn’t seem like a pick the Kings would be anxious to get rid of, but if a trade opportunity presented itself they’d likely package it with one of their players. Of course, this all depends on how the team shapes up as the season progresses.
2018 Season Predictions
As we’ve already discussed, this Kings roster is a tad confusing. It’s not devoid of talent, so their intentions for the season are no longer clear. In its current situation, the Sacramento Kings could pull off a record of 43-39 by season’s end.
However, with regard to the rest of the Western Conference, this record wouldn’t amount to much. The Kings are not likely to make the playoffs in any respect this season, so they’re better off going with the tanking depth chart. Let the young guys run the ball back and forth, get acclimated to the up-tempo pace of the NBA, and prepare for a long rebuild.