NBA Season Preview: Sacramento Kings

2019-20 Regular Season Record
: 31-41 (.431%), 12th in Western Conference, Missed Playoffs
Head Coach: Luke Walton

Owners of the NBA’s longest playoff drought, the Kings have been genuinely bad since the breakup of the Webber/Bibby/Peja era teams, last making the playoffs in 2005-06. De’Aaron Fox (more on him later...) continues to improve and is the obvious face of the future in Sactown. Buddy Hield averaged 19.2 ppg (on an inefficient 42.9% shooting), 4.6 rpg and 3.0 apg in his 4th season. Did he regress a little last year? His numbers were down across the board, but there is no doubt he can improve upon those numbers this year. Uber-talented big man Marvin Bagley III was only able to play in 13 games last year and has a total of 75 NBA games to his credit through two seasons. When he is on the court he is a solid option number 2 behind Fox, but he needs to stay healthy. One positive from Bagley’s injury woes was the play of Richaun Holmes, who filled in quite nicely averaging 12.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg on 64.8% shooting. Ultimately, the Kings were close enough to be invited to the bubble, but went 3-5 and didn’t threaten to sneak into the play-in tournament. 

De'Aaron Fox

Just how good is De’Aaron Fox? Simply put, he’s the best player Sacramento has on their roster. Fox, the 5th overall draft pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has improved his scoring average each year in the league, going from 11.6 ppg (41.2% shooting) as a rookie, to 17.3 ppg (45.8% FG) in his 2nd year to 21.1 ppg (48.0% FG) last year. Besides taking on the burden of the NBA’s longest playoff drought, Fox is also the Kings best playmaker on both sides of the ball - dishing out 6.8 apg in 2019-20, after averaging 7.3 apg the year before, while swiping 1.5 spg. Fox still needs to work on his outside shooting, which was a weakness of his coming into the NBA. In his 2nd year, he shot a very respectable 37.1% from 3-point range but regressed last year down to 29.2%. If he can find a way to get north of 36% he should find himself having a very productive year. 

Tom's Take: Fox will average 23.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.5 apg & 1.9 spg and make it to his first All-Star Game. 

Tyrese Haliburton

When the Kings drafted Tyrese Haliburton, Fox should have been the happiest person in the organization. Haliburton will allow Fox to focus more on scoring off the ball while the rookie takes on more of the distribution role. Defensively, Haliburton puts pressure on the ball and plays the passing lanes well, which should lead to the two of them wreaking havoc against opposing guards. Many believed that Haliburton was the most overlooked prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft (we agreed), and he is already looking quite comfortable in the NBA during the first couple of games in pre-season. 

Tom's Take: Haliburton will earn All-Rookie 1st Team honors.

Can the Kings Make the Playoffs?

Even with the ever-improving Fox, a bounce back year from Hield, a healthy Bagley and rookie Haliburton, it will be difficult for the Kings to get into the playoff picture. There is a good chance that they get into the play-in tournament, but it's tough to see the Kings improving so much that they ultimately qualify for the playoffs. The West is too deep to allow a young team like the Kings in, so look for them to head back to the lottery next year. 

Photo Credit: Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire