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There's Finally An Identity In Sacramento
Notable Players Acquired: G-F Vince Carter (free agency), PG De’Aaron Fox (draft), Harry Giles (draft), George Hill (free agency), Justin Jackson (draft), Zach Randolph (free agency)
Notable Players Lost: G Arron Afflalo (free agency), G Darren Collison (free agency), SF Rudy Gay (free agency), PG Ty Lawson (free agency), SG Ben McLemore (free agency)
The Kings finished last season with a 32-50 record, 13th in the West. The headline of their season was trading DeMarcus Cousins for Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield and a first-round pick.
Cousins is one of the league’s premier players, but things in Sacramento just didn’t work for him. That happens.
In his 25 games with the Kings, Hield was the league’s best rookie, averaging 15.1 points to go with 4.1 rebounds per game. He shot 48 percent from the field and a lights-out 42.8 percent from the 3-point line on 5.5 attempts per game.
The positive from the season was the emergence of Hield, along with fellow rookie Skal Labissiere. Labissiere only played in 33 games, but the 20-year-old big man averaged 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Along with 23-year-old Willie Cauley-Stein (8.1 points, 4.5 rebounds per game), the Kings have a nice core in the front court.
The negative is that the Kings couldn’t make things work with Cousins and for the 11th-straight season, the team missed the playoffs.
The Big Question
Will Hield or Fox emerge as a player the Kings can build around? Ultimately when trading a player like Cousins, you’re hoping in the process, you get something else to build around, although likely much younger. That’s what the Kings hope they have with Hield, 23, and/or Fox, 19.
At the very least, we know that Hield will be a solid shooter, which is more than what we knew at the beginning of last season. His next step will to grow into scoring at all three levels along with improving defensively.
And then there’s Fox, the No. 5 pick in the draft. Outside shooting will be a concern for him, but the dude is incredibly fast and should thrive defensively. Sacramento probably did the smart thing in signing George Hill to start while Fox is slowly brought along.
If you’re a Sacramento fan, you’re putting all your eggs in the Hield and Fox basket.
Assistant coach Bryan Gates is in his second season with Sacramento. Gates was an assistant coach with the Timberwolves in 2015-16.
With how good the West is this season, it’s extremely unlikely the Kings make the playoffs. But that’s okay! The Kings finally have an identity and with the young talent of Cauley-Stein, Hield, Fox, Malachi Richardson, Harry Giles and Justin Jackson, they are hoping they strike gold with at least one of those players. Instead of being in basketball purgatory like they were with Cousins and a revolving door of players, it looks like Sacramento finally has a solid base.