Wednesday, March 29th, was a regular day for 29 NBA teams. The only exception was the team with the NBA season’s best story, the Sacramento Kings. That day, the Kings defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in convincing fashion, with a final score of 120-80. It officially clinched them a playoff berth. To put their playoff berth accomplishment into perspective, the last time the Kings made a playoff appearance was 16 years ago in the 2005-06 season.
This Team Is the NBA’s Best Story
That 2005-06 year, the Kings were led by Mike Bibby. They had a 44-38 record and lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the First Round. This year, expectations are slightly different going into the playoffs, at least internally. You get the sense that the Kings recognize the accomplishment of reaching the playoffs means for the franchise. But, they aren’t satisfied just being there.
Just last season, the Kings finished 12th in the Western Conference with a 30-52 record. This year, they are the third seed in the Western Conference, with a win percentage hovering around 60 percent. The fact that they practically did a complete 180 in just one season is rare in the NBA and makes them the best story of the season. So, besides the lighting of the beam, what exactly is catalyzing this unprecedented season for the Kings?
Mike Brown – Coach of the Year?
Head coach Mike Brown is deservedly the leading candidate to win Coach of the Year. He’s done an excellent job of optimizing the strengths of his roster. The Kings’ two all-stars, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, have thrived in Brown’s fast-paced offensive system that he implemented. As a result, they have a historically great offense from an efficiency standpoint. According to StatMuse, the Sacramento Kings have the best offensive rating by a team ever in a season. They also average over 120 points a game, making them hard to keep up with in a track meet-style game.
Kings’ Revamped Roster
This historically efficient Kings team consists of elite shooters and underrated playmakers. Here’s a breakdown of the overhaul their roster has experienced from just this past year.
The Tyrese Haliburton for Sabonis trade with the Indiana Pacers last trade deadline was heavily scrutinized. Revisiting the trade a year later, it’s starting to look like a win-win for both teams involved. Sabonis has been an ideal complementary co-star alongside Fox. He’s perfect for this Kings’ system as someone that can get out in transition as a big and is an elite playmaker for his position, averaging seven assists a game.
Besides Fox and Sabonis, the Kings’ role players haven’t gotten enough credit for their impact on turning the franchise around. Three players stand out as great additions in particular, especially for their style of play. Malik Monk was acquired through free agency. Kevin Huerter came over in a trade with the Hawks. Keegan Murray was the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft out of Iowa.
Monk fits in great off the bench for the Kings and has found new life in Sacramento, having arguably the best season of his career so far. Huerter was an extremely underrated acquisition at the time and is another elite shooter hovering around 40 percent from downtown. Murray recently set the single-season rookie record for most three-pointers in a season, passing Donovan Mitchell. Not only is he connecting from three at a historically high volume, but the efficiency is also there, shooting over 40 percent.
Not to mention, Harrison Barnes has been with the team for five seasons and is the glue that holds it all together, giving the young Kings team a veteran presence at age 30 with a championship on his resume.
Final Thoughts on Sacramento Kings
The Kings shouldn’t be underestimated going into the Western Conference Playoffs. Even if they haven’t been there in over a decade, they still have the best offense historically. If they fall short, the good news is that their core players still haven’t reached their potential and should continue to grow as a unit if they stay intact. Outside of Barnes, the oldest player mentioned was Sabonis, who is 26.
Jumping from 12th to third in the Western Conference standings in just one year, it’s safe to say the Sacramento Kings are the NBA’s best story of the season. But, given their roster age, potential, and offensive efficiency, they also have much to look forward to in seasons to come.