Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be “scouting the enemy,” as we’ll be covering the outlook for the 29 other teams in the league ahead of the 2019-2020 season.
The Sacramento Kings are going to be a fun team to watch. Those are words that haven’t been uttered for a long time, but it finally appears to be true.
Let’s talk briefly about their offseason, and then I’ll tell you why the Kings may be a real threat in this league in the not-so-far future.
The Kings didn’t do anything loud or crazy in the off-season, but general manager and former Kings player Vlade Divac made several strategic moves that improved his teams talent level drastically.
He started off with a move that seemed odd: firing former Grizz Coach Dave Joerger after the best season they’d had in years. The Kings went 39-43 in the 2018-2019 season under Dave Joerger’s leadership. From Divac’s standpoint, this improved record may have reflected a talented young team rather than a dynamic coach, so he made the decision to fire Joerger and hire Luke Walton.
The Kings added point guard Cory Joseph on a three-year contract, who could prove to be a useful backup for budding star De’Aaron Fox. They got rid of Willie Cauley-Stein and former Grizz big man Kosta Koufos, replacing them with Dewayne Dedmon and Rachaun Holmes. After showing improvement throughout this past season, the Kings decided to keep Harry Giles. Two more additions include small forwards Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza.
So, how will this new Kings team do?
Let’s dig into it.
The Kings success will depend on the individual improvements of their young players. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, high first-round picks from the past two years, are key.
Fox and Bagley can be compared to Ja and Jaren, as they are both dynamic young point guard/power forward combos. Fox is super athletic and fast and showed a big jump from year one to year two, proving himself to have real superstar potential. Although Bagley was drafted before Jaren, many feel like Jaren has more potential as a true two-way threat. It should be interesting to see how Bagley develops this season; if his defense can begin to catch up to his offense. It’ll be fun over the next few years to see how this duo develops in comparison to Ja and Jaren.
Adding former Atlanta Hawk Dewayne Dedmon at center should allow Bagley to develop at power forward without taking too much pounding inside.
Dedmon is a safe pick-up for center. He’s not the best at anything, but he’s pretty good at everything. He is solid in the paint but has proved to be a real perimeter shooting threat as well, which seems to be crucial in this new wave of centers who heave up threes and don’t just hang around under the basket.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are both entering contract years and are two more players that will fuel the Kings’ success. Acquiring Hield in the Boogie trade was huge for the Kings. He’s yet another youngish threat who can really shoot the rock and will continue to grow alongside his young teammates. Bogdanovic is a solid sixth man who can come in and play the one, two, and three.
Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza are small forwards who can contribute different things to this team. Barnes is an athletic shooter, while Ariza is more of a 3 and D guy. They’re seasoned players who can help guide the teams young stars on and off the court.
So will the Kings be good this season?
I mean, it sure seems like they’ve got all the pieces to do it. They won’t be a contender —they’re a young, budding team rather than a flashy win-now one — but they could perhaps slide into the 7th or 8th playoff seed in the West in a best-case scenario.
The Sacramento Kings are a team to watch. They’ve seemed to quietly sneak up on the rest of the league over the last couple of years, and sooner rather than later, they might just surprise us.
Follow @sbngrizzlies for further “Scouting the Enemy” posts.