Sacramento Kings Young Core

Finding a Canary in the Sacramento Coal Mine

A beautiful disaster.

When I think about the Sacramento Kings, those are the first words that come to mind. 

And this season was no exception; seeing the Kings tie the Clippers for the longest playoff drought in NBA history while also having two of the best lineups in the entire NBA. 

But like with the Kings, you have to take the bad with the good.

In a loaded Western Conference, the Kings are getting ready to set the record in regular-season futility if they miss the playoffs again in the 201-2022 season.  

For comparison’s sake, the next team behind the Kings and those 15 long seasons is the Charlotte Hornets who have only been gone 5 years: a full decade difference. 

To say the Kings have been bad would be an understatement.

But they’ve always played some of the most fun, beautifully chaotic League Pass basketball over these last 15 years. 

DeMarcus Cousins put up some of the most monster stat lines in the entire league during his 6+ years there but never could lead the Kings into the playoffs (I’m still convinced the Kings 1st round pick not conveying for 6 years and converting to a 2nd is what started the protection generation) and once he was shipped out for another youth movement the writing was on the wall.

In true Kings fashion, they have found a way to smile and shine no matter how many cars splash them with puddles as they drive by on their way to playoff games. 

After hitting on Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox, the Kings shot themselves in the foot by trading the #10 pick for Justin Jackson and Harry Giles Jr in 2016 before selling the rights to Gary Trent Jr in 2017 to Portland in exchange for a couple of second round picks. And we all know about the Marvin Bagley Jr draft.

Still, like the rose that grew from concrete, the Kings continued to find ways to thrive in spite of themselves. 

Looking for the Bright Spots

Having the chance to grab Harrison Barnes while the Mavericks were chasing free-agent dreams was a huge success and picking up NBA Twitter favorite Richaun Holmes completely changed the style of play the Kings were able to play. 

Plus, Tyrese Haliburton looks to be everything NBA draft Twitter thought he was as a prospect going forward, helping bridge the gap from losing Bogdan Bogdanovic and keeping a threat at all five positions for their best lineups this year.

Which is really what drove me to write this entire article. Those lineups. I thought I’d just look at something fairly simple the other day when I was playing around on BBall Index’s free lineup tool.

I filtered lineups that have played at least 350 minutes together and had a positive net rating.

I didn’t expect only 9 lineups in the entire league to pop up, and I really didn’t expect two of those lineups to be from the Sacramento Kings.

With the core four of Fox, Hield, Barnes, and Holmes with Bagley Jr and Tyrese Haliburton the variable between the two lineups, the Kings appear to have found a nice little core under 30. 

But with Luke Walton being considered one of the least talented coaches in the league combined with the Kings front office inability to build out a bench has the Kings still floundering outside the playoff picture.

Build it Now or Never

As much as I love De’Aaron Fox, the Kings don’t have someone who can iso score and carry an offense for a few minutes while the rest of the starters get some rest like Donovan Mitchell in Utah or Devin Booker in Phoenix.

And while everyone is under 30, the trio of Holmes, Barnes, and Hield are all closer to 30 than they are to 25. 

With a talent influx coming in this draft though the Kings look to be setting up for getting some prime lottery position in the next few lotteries. 

If they can get a little lottery luck and get a franchise player in the next few years to pair with this core the Kings could finally find their way back into the playoffs.

Until they do, they’ll continue to be a beautiful disaster.

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Podcast host over at Charity Stripe Commentary, scouring NBA Twitter content over on @finalfinally, and of course writing for HoopSocial!