This year the Sacramento Kings have flipped the NBA on its head. With a (31- 29) record at the end of February, they have been one of the leagues most under-rated teams this year.
In 2017 the Sacramento Kings risked it all by trading franchise player DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. General Manager Vlade Divac was ridiculed by fans for his return in the trade package with New Orleans. At the time, ” Boogie ” was a three-time all-star and two-time ALL-NBA selection. Though Cousins put up huge numbers in his time in Sac-town they still hadn’t made the playoffs since 2006.
Many expected the Kings to be dwelling in the lottery but only two years later they find themselves in a race for the 8th seed.
With a series of shrewd moves in the Draft the Kings front office has flipped the script on 13 years of mediocrity.
In the Cousins trade, Buddy Hield, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick were brought back. Divac used the first rounder to select Zach Collins, then traded Collins for young pieces Harry Giles and Justin Jackson. Then with the second rounder he selected Frank Mason.
In that same draft, he selected De’Aaron Fox with the number five overall pick.
Fast forward to this year’s draft and Marvin Bagley was selected with the second pick. Go back to 2016 and the Phoenix Suns were very keen on Marquess Chriss. Divac selected him with the number 8th pick and traded him to the Suns. In return, he got Bogdan Bogdanovic and another second round pick for 2020.
This year the Kings best players have been Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox. Hield was cast aside by the Pelicans as a rookie, but the Pelicans loss has been the Kings gain. This year Hield joins Steph Curry as the only players to average over 41% from three while hoisting more than 7 three pointers a night. There are many great shooters in the league but combining efficiency with volume is an elite skill.
Many teams underestimate Sacramento but with the leagues ninth best offense and an abundance of young talent on the roster they are a match-up nightmare. The Kings don’t often get to play on prime-time TV, so their exciting brand of play isn’t common knowledge in the league.
What makes this Kings team so lethal on offense is their combination of shooting, hustle and transition offense. Following Fox and Hield are young big’s Bagley and Giles. Both have improved as the season has wore on. In Bagley’s case he is averaging 18 points a game with 10 rebounds in the month of February.
WE HONESTLY GOING TO INGORE THE FACT THAT THIS MOVE WAS NASTY? 🤔🔥 pic.twitter.com/LSci8qwrGa— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) February 26, 2019
As the season moves towards the playoffs its been clear their play isn’t just a flash in the pan. They have a better record than all but five of the teams in the East. Beating the Thunder and Spurs twice has shown they are a force to be reckoned with. In the post-season, only the Warriors would have the playoff prowess to be confident in beating them in a 7 game series.
Casual NBA fans should now take notice of the Kings. They are likely to be one of the West’s best teams for years to come.