Going further into our player rankings, we arrive at our last player in the 20s, Domantas Sabonis. He is an incredibly impactful and valuable center who is finally beginning to earn the respect he deserves from the NBA community. In his first full season with the Kings, Sabonis had a career year and helped the team reach new heights.
Top 25 NBA Players 2023-24: No. 20 Domantas Sabonis
The Rise of the Passing Big:
Over the past few seasons, Nikola Jokic has taken the league by storm with his incredible passing abilities and all-around offensive impact. The NBA is a copycat league; therefore, as Jokic’s success continues, more teams will try to replicate his style of play. The way Sacramento runs their offense through Sabonis and the two-man game between him and De’Aaron Fox is eerily similar to the Denver Nuggets. Sabonis is an elite passing big man and has an incredible basketball IQ. The Kings use Sabonis as a passer in the high post and run tons of actions through him. In addition to being an elite passer, Sabonis impacts the game as an interior scorer, bruiser, and rebounder. This makes Sabonis an incredibly valuable all-around offensive threat.
Last year, Sabonis was an integral part of Sacramento’s historic season. The Kings took the league by storm, winning 48 games and securing the third seed in the West, breaking their 16-year-long playoff drought. Sacramento posted an absurd 119.4 offensive rating, breaking the league’s all-time record. Sabonis was the connective piece that made the Kings’ offense work. Sabonis initiated in the high post and generated plenty of open looks for his teammates. Furthermore, Sabonis led the league in rebounding and was an interior scoring threat throughout the season.
As a result of his incredible season, Sabonis was rewarded with an All-NBA selection for the first time in his career. However, despite a stellar regular season, Sabonis was subpar playoffs. In the first-round series against the Warriors, he struggled against the small-ball style Warriors. Sabonis didn’t have the same impact as an interior scorer or passer. Additionally, throughout the series, he struggled with turnovers and foul trouble. Well, this series is not a reflection on Sabonis, and his lack of playoff experience gives him somewhat of a free pass. Looking ahead, producing consistently in the playoffs is a top priority for him.
This offseason, the Kings elected to run it back with virtually the same roster. This has caused many to wonder if last season’s success is replicable for Sacramento. Well, they certainly have a talented squad, but it’s a fair question to ask. For Sabonis specifically, it’s hard to imagine him not having the same all-around impact. He is 27 and has an elite skill set that gives him extreme production and consistency.
Sacramento’s offense will remain elite due to Sabonis’ offensive prowess and the elite personnel around him. However, the Kings’ defense could lead to their downfall. Sacramento had the 24th-ranked defense last season and did nothing to improve this weakness during the offseason. The Kings’ lack of defense, especially on the wings, could be exposed and cause them to slip the standings. Ultimately, in most scenarios, they will remain a playoff team. During the postseason, the pressure will be on Sabonis to prove himself and bounce back from last year.
The Last Word on Domantas Sabonis
The immense value Sabonis provides the Kings and his impact on winning are two things that can not be understated. He proved his worth last season and established himself as a near-consensus top-25 player. If it weren’t for the playoffs last year, it is possible he would rank even higher. If Sabonis can continue playing at an All-NBA level and puts together an impressive playoff performance, rising the ranks is a certainty.