It’s clear that the Sacramento Kings are in rebuilding mode for the 2017-2018 season. That’s obvious. But, despite having 10 first/second/third-year players, they also have five solid vets that could help add to the win total as early as this year. So, the question remains: how many games will the Kings win this year?
It’s easy to think a team with 5 rookies would fail. Not only that, they have 4 second-year players as well. But, what people don’t understand, is how NBA-ready all of those players are. Comings out of college, Justin Jackson was easily one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. He was taken 15th by Sacramento. Bogdan Bogdanovic, coming from the Euroleague where he led his team to win the Euroleague finals, looks to make an immediate impact for his new team.
Rookie De’Aaron Fox may not be a starter day 1, but he is a great defender that will make an impact regardless. He plays at an up-tempo pace, and very unselfishly. Fox should get around 20 minutes per game, and be a spark for the team when he is in the game.
Bogdanovic is one of the under-the-radar players that not a lot of people outside of Sacramento are talking about. He is a serious candidate for rookie of the year. There is a chance Bogdanovic could be a day 1 starter, if he proves he can play small-forward for the Kings.
Second-year players Buddy Hield and Skal Labissiere will be huge players in the rotation this year. Hield had an amazing second-half to his season last year and proved he can score at a high volume in the NBA. If he keeps that up, then he is ready for big minutes. Skal, like Buddy, played well after the All-Star break. Labissiere showed a lot of promise and potential, and if he improves, will help the Kings out tremendously as their starting power forward.
Starting center Willie Cauley-Stein is arguably the Kings best player. There is truly no player in the NBA like him. A 7-footer with that kind of speed, and perimeter defense? Good luck finding one elsewhere. Willie really needs to work on his rebounding and rim-protection this offseason. He won’t need to do much offensively, although he did show plenty of flashes on offense last season.
And what do the vets bring to the table? Point guard George Hill, who just recently signed a 3-year deal with Sacramento, will bring a winning attitude, and great leadership. Hill is a great defender, shooter, and will be a leader for the young team. Garrett Temple showed us last season that he really wants to help mentor the young Kings, while also giving the team a solid 3-and-D threat. Kosta Koufos is a solid big who helps with rim protection and rebounding. Vince Carter and Zach Randolph are two great locker-room guys who will be like a coach on the team. Randolph has also still been really effective as a player in his later days, coming off the bench for Memphis last year.
Sacramento has a good mix of young players and veterans. They aren’t a playoff team just yet, but they will do better than what people give them credit for. Yes, the western conference is stacked, but there are teams worse than the Kings. Between the Suns, Mavericks, Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Blazers, and Grizzlies, the Kings will be better than at least a few of those teams. Expect the Kings to finish around the 10th-12th place in the western conference this year.
34-48 wouldn’t be a bad season for the Kings. It’s actually a better record than one DeMarcus Cousins ever finished with during his time with Sacramento. No, they won’t be in the sweepstakes for the #1 pick. But having veterans, and helping the young guys on the roster out, while keeping a top-10 pick, is more valuable than hurting their development and developing bad habits, while losing much more games, just to get a top-3 pick.