This will mark the 12th season since the Kings last made the NBA playoffs. In that time, the Kings have had a whopping 10 coaches. Only one, Paul Westphal, has managed to coach two full seasons.
Dave Joerger is entering year two of a four year deal and the circumstances have already changed drastically from the time he was hired. Initially brought on to oversee a veteran Kings team trying to make the playoffs sooner rather than later, Joerger is now overseeing one of the youngest teams in the league with only about half the team remaining from last season.
Fan reaction to Dave Joerger’s first season was mixed, particularly at the beginning when Joerger spent a lot of time playing guys like Matt Barnes or Arron Afflalo over younger and more intriguing options. This preference for vets was a trend that carried over from Joerger’s Memphis days and led some to worry that he might not play the kids at all after the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and Joerger and the team made a conscious effort to focus on the young guys. Guys like Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein played major roles after the All-Star break, and the more gradual development the Kings took with their young players seemed to pay off.
This season though, the focus will be on the youth right from the get go. Only five players on the entire team are not on their rookie contracts, and Joerger will be the one ultimately in charge of the development. He’s got a clean slate and the ability to build in habits right from the start. It won’t be easy, and there will probably be a lot of losing, but given the franchise’s direction, Joerger seems to be in it for the long haul. Ownership and the front office is well aware of the culture of instability and chaos that has surrounded this franchise over the last decade and have made a concerted effort over the past couple years to try to right the ship.
Joerger is set to be a big part of that culture change, and the Kings need him to be if they hope to return to relevance sooner rather than later. Constant change and mismanagement can drastically set a young team back, and the Kings have made plenty such mistakes of their own in the not too recent past. Sacramento needs stability, and a team, coach and front office that all share the same vision and are on the same page. Right now that seems to be the case, but we’ve all seen how quickly things can change around here. Hopefully this time is different.