The 2019-20 NBA season went on hiatus on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic . The season will return on July 30 and NBA.com's writers are taking an updated look at each of the league's 30 teams.
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Record: 28-36, No. 11 in the Western Conference
Season summary: The Kings made the cut to try and qualify for the 2020 postseason, but making the playoffs has, overall, been elusive since the franchise was based in Kansas City. There was much reason for optimism in 2019-20: Buddy Hield signed a contract extension, De’Aaron Fox seemed poised to take another step in his decision-making and shooting at point guard, and the club had high hopes for former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III (assuming he could stay healthy). Also, Luke Walton energized the franchise just by being hired as coach, but the hope didn’t last long. The Kings lost their first five games and that had them playing from behind. Bagley once again fell victim to injury and played only 13 of the first 64 games. The Kings, for the most part, received mixed results from those players in the middle of the rotation. They never managed to break even on the season, which as usual became a laboratory for young players to be groomed for the future.
Breakout player: Richaun Holmes has been low key his entire pro life, as a second-round pick and slightly used role player who signed with the Kings for $10 million over two years last summer. His worker bee mentality has helped him carve a role in the rotation and gain a measure of respectability. Holmes was a rare decision by the front office that didn’t backfire and given the price the Kings paid for him, he’s been a bargain. He’s an undersized center at 6-foot-10, but never gets out-hustled. He has shown flashes of nice moves around he rime while averaging 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 65.4% overall. With the Kings struggling to find a replacement at center for DeMarcus Cousins -- Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t exactly work out -- Holmes arrived as a gift from nowhere.
Statement win: In the first game held at Staples Center following the death of Kobe Bryant, there was obviously an atmosphere thick with emotion when the Kings visited the Clippers. Of course, Kobe played his entire career with the Lakers but his reach was extended throughout the NBA -- that’s how much influence he had on players and teams. The Kings managed to deliver an emphatic win on Jan. 30, beating the Clippers rather easily and surprisingly. Given the circumstances of the moment and also the level of their opponent, this was undoubtedly the Kings’ most impressive win of the season. Fox was brilliant with a career-high 34 points and the Kings made a club-record 21 shots from deep. And this win was after a 20-point loss to Oklahoma City the previous night, making it all the more commendable.
Most compelling game: Sacramento had a handful of games that lasted deep into the fourth quarter, although they didn’t win many of those. However, there was a stretch of several days in February where the Kings played in a contest that had spice not necessarily because of the teams involved, but a pair of individuals. For two times in that stretch, a matchup between two young point guard blurs took place -- Fox vs. Ja Morant. In the final meeting, Fox and the Kings got the better of that matchup. Fox was good for 25 points including 16 in the second half when the Kings held off Memphis and secured the tense three-point win.
Memorable moment: Hey, the Kings actually did win a title -- Buddy Hield took the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest! "Buddy Ball" clinched the All-Star weekend event title by drilling his final shot for the win and aligned himself along the greats of the past who took the honors. While the city of Sacramento didn’t exactly erupt into a mass celebration, Hield is becoming one of the game’s feared shooters and this was proof. Because the Kings didn’t have a representative in the Sunday game -- aside from Cousins, the Kings haven’t had an All-Star since 2003-04 -- Buddy’s title carried some weight within the franchise.
Team MVP: Fox remains the crucial piece to the Kings and the core of a young club. He overcame injury this season to still lead the club in scoring and assists, while pairing rather well with Hield in the backcourt. There were times when Fox was the best player on the floor for stretches, and those are the glimpses the Kings will take for now. The Kings believe Fox will someday be an All-Star, and while that didn’t materialize this season, more wins and better health and 3-point shooting could point Fox in that direction in the near future.
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