After sixteen long and tiring seasons, the Sacramento Kings finally returned to the playoffs last year and are looking to once again light the beam and make some noise in the Western Conference during the 2023-24 season.
While the Kings, the third-best team in the Western Conference, were eliminated in the first round by the Golden State Warriors, their 48 regular season victories were the most since 2004-05. Considering their eighteen-game improvement from the year prior, the Kings’ management, players, and fan base are eagerly excited to see what 2023-24 has in store.
It looks as though Coach Mike Brown will likely return to the same starting lineup as last season, as there is no obvious reason for a change. De’Aaron Fox is coming off the best season of his six-year career, where he earned a spot on the All-NBA Third Team and his first trip to the All-Star Game. Fox was joined on the All-NBA Third Team by three-time All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, a nightly double-double machine in points and rebounds.
Kevin Huerter became a full-time starter during his first season in Sacramento after four years of playing a mixed role with the Atlanta Hawks. The result? Arguably his best statistical season with career highs in points, three-point shooting percentage, field goal percentage, and shot attempts.
Filling the forward spots for the Kings were two 6’8 wings who may share being the two best NBA players from Iowa, but are also at opposite ends of their playing careers. At 30 years old (second eldest on the team), Harrison Barnes is entering his eleventh year in the league and fifth full season with the Kings. On the other side of the court is sophomore sensation Keegan Murray, who made last year’s All-Rookie team, averaging 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Malik Monk, Trey Lyles, Davion Mitchell, Alex Len, and Kessler Edwards. Of the first five players who usually come off the bench for the Kings, only Monk tallied double digits in scoring. And yet the team ranked ninth in league bench scoring. Of the other two rotational players, Terence Davis and Chimezie Metu are the only significant losses to free agency.
The one glaring hole in the Kings’ roster is their lack of an impactful big man off of the bench as Lyles would fill the spot as part of a small ball center despite only being 6’9”.
Of the Kings’ offseason moves, the addition of EuroLeague star power forward Aleksandar (Sasha) Vezenkov and former Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte may be their most important. With averages of 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists, Vezenkov, who will be a 28-year-old rookie, was the EuroLeague MVP and Player of the Year.
Duarte, who averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds during his NBA All-Rookie-worthy season in 2021-22, fell out of favor last year with Rick Carlisle. If Duarte can find the same shooting stroke that he had during his first season, the swap for a couple of future second-rounders will be well worth swapping.
A three-time NBA champion, JaVale McGee can still provide an adequate paint presence off the bench, but at 35 years old, he is more of an insurance policy and veteran presence in the locker room.
Colby Jones (34th pick by the Charlotte Hornets) and Jalen Slawson (54th pick) are both unlikely to see any significant playing time during their first year and will most likely see most of their floor time coming from the Stockton Kings
The Kings had signed well-traveled Nerlens Noel in the offseason but would waive him just two months later.