What to Watch For: Season Breakdown
With a highly-anticipated season on the way, here are a few things to be on the lookout for in 2017-18.
The NBA offseason is winding down and the upcoming campaign is quickly approaching. With the hype and excitement growing, see which storylines we are most looking forward to this season.
Young Kings Taking Big Steps
Over the course of the past two seasons, Sacramento has constructed a roster that is filled with promising young talent. This includes a core group of 10 players, none older than 25 years old, that will be crucial to the squad’s future.
This core is formed by five rookies (De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Frank Mason III and Bogdan Bogdanovic), four sophomores (Buddy Hield, Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, and Skal Labissiere) and lone third-year big an Willie Cauley-Stein.
With a plethora of youth throughout the squad, there is tremendous upside for growth as they will also be flanked by veterans Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos and George Hill.
While the rookies will be looking to establish themselves early in the season, there is potential to see larger strides taken by the batch of second-year players, all of whom showed great flashes of potential in the 2016-17 campaign.
Hield and Labissiere, who both turned in 30-plus-point performances in 2016-17, could be prime candidates to vie for the coveted Most Improved Player award. Not to be forgotten is Richardson, whose unfortunate hamstring injury cut his debut season short - but was the first rookie to crack Coach Joerger’s rotation. No. 23’s undeniable confidence on the court and scoring instincts could also provide an opportunity to continue to open eyes around the Association.
The new set of rooks will have to get their feet wet in the Association this season, but their impact could also be immediate. Sacramento fans will certainly be excitedly anticipating their arrivals on the hardwood this season as the Kings continue their path to rejuvenate the roster with a major youth movement.
It’s no secret that the Kings and Lakers have been embroiled in a heated rivalry for the better part of this century. That tension could see new heights now as both teams have reloaded their rosters with potential young stars that could be facing off for many seasons to come.
One matchup that has generated possibly the most hype has been the rookie point guards - De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball. Both players turned in phenomenal freshman seasons in college last season and matched up on two occasions.
Fox and his Kentucky Wildcats were bested by Ball and the UCLA Bruins in their first meeting. However, the teams met again in the high stakes Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament, where Fox exploded for 39 points en route to a Kentucky victory.
There is expected to be more carryover as these two take their talents to two California teams where they will have plenty of chances to clash as more fuel is added to this ongoing rivalry.
New Faces in New Places
The Kings are rolling out a bundle of new faces in the purple and black this season and they will not be alone in that regard. This offseason in the NBA has produced a staggering amount of player movement via trades and free agency, not to mention the incoming talent from the 2017 NBA Draft.
In the Western Conference alone, playoff-caliber teams have continued to strengthen themselves; the Houston Rockets added floor general Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired All-Star Paul George. Not to mention the most recent deal between two Eastern Conference contenders that had the Cleveland Cavaliers swapping Kyrie Irving in exchange for a package headlined by Isaiah Thomas.
With the decks reshuffled throughout the League, this will present unique matchups between Sactown and numerous squads.