Following a four-month hiatus as a result of COVID-19, the NBA is getting ready for a long-anticipated league restart. Beginning on July 31st, the top 22 teams will compete at Disney World’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Given that there will be a secured “bubble”, concerns over the spread of COVID-19, and no fans, it’s safe to say that this will be a season finish unlike any other. Taking the unique NBA landscape into consideration, the Last Word on Pro Basketball staff continues this contenders or pretenders series with the Sacramento Kings.
NBA Disney Bubble Contenders or Pretenders: Sacramento Kings
Young Sacramento Kings
Last season, the Kings finished 39-43, which was ninth in the Western Conference. This season was supposed to be the year to make the jump to the playoffs. The front office for the Kings decided to fire Dave Joerger and replace him with Luke Walton as part of that jump.
Unfortunately, that move has not panned out this year. Walton and the Kings started very slow, mainly due to injuries. Bagley has only played 13 games this season and Fox has only registered 45. As Fox got healthy, the Kings started to play better and eventually fought their way to a 28-36 record before the season was suspended. Now, they at least give themselves a fighting chance and have a healthy Marvin Bagley.
Off the Charts Potential
Fox and Bagley have a chance to be one of the best young duos in the league. Fox already is a great defender and solid playmaker. He increased his scoring average to 20.4 points per game this year while taking many more shots. He is also developing his three-point shot which will take him to the next level.
Bagley has dealt with plenty of injuries in his short career but his talent is limitless. For his career, Bagley averages 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in just 75 games. As he continues to get his feet wet those numbers will grow. Bagley is an elite offensive rebounder and will create plenty of easy opportunities.
The other two players that deserve mentioning are Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Both have been part of trade speculation over the last few seasons, but ultimately it seems like the Kings have them both in their long-term plans. Both are lethal from long distance but can also be super inconsistent. For the Kings to take the next step, these two players need to be more reliable. Hield is averaging 19.8 points per game but he is only shooting 43 percent from the field.
Why the Sacramento Kings Haven’t Been Crowned Kings
The Kings play a system that may not fit their personnel. Fox plays fast and may easily be the fastest player in the league, but the Kings rank 25th in pace. They also have bigs that love to get out and run and shooters that play well in transition. If the pace improves, the wins should come with it.
The other major problem for the Kings is depth. Off the bench, the Kings use Cory Joseph, Harry Giles, and Richaun Holmes. Nemanja Bjelica has started 61 games for the Kings so far, mostly because Bagley has been unavailable. The other player not yet mentioned is Harrison Barnes. Barnes was a major contributor for the Golden State Warriors when they won their first championship. However, he has been inconsistent throughout his NBA career.
The one clear point with the Kings is someone needs to step up and be that second option to Fox. Hield is clearly a top-three option, but they still need one more guy to step up. They clearly have the top-end talent but one guy needs to take that major step forward. The easiest answer is Marvin Bagley.
Statistically, the Kings are as average as average can be. Every statistical category finds the Kings ranked between 13th and 26th. They can essentially improve in every single area which would help them finally clinch a playoff berth.
Sacramento Kings Verdict: Pretenders
The Kings are still a few years away. Unfortunately for Kings fans, they have been a few years away for a few years. The talent is stockpiled but the puzzle pieces have not fit together yet. It is positive that the Kings have been invited to the Disney bubble, but this is not the year.
It seems unlikely that the Kings even contend for the eighth seed at this point. The Portland Trailblazers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Memphis Grizzlies are clearly ahead of the Kings in terms of legitimate contention at this point. However, playing in some high-profile pressure situations is going to go a long way in the Kings’ development.
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