We round out our 30Q series today with a group roundtable on what they think of Sacramento’s direction. We asked each of our writers to provider their own perspective and would love to hear yours in the comments below. If you missed any one of our 30Q series, you can check them all out here.
section214: I don't know if it's the right track, but I am more excited about this season than any season in recent memory (low bar is low).
For the past several years, we have pretty much known that this team was not playoff material. There was a little bit of hope (though definitely not universally shared) when the Kings hired George Karl and backed that up with the acquisition of veterans Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos and Marco Belinelli. But the well was poisoned, and you could tell that the team had no emotional investment in the season before New Year's Day rolled around.
What we have this season is what we probably should have had in the first year of the Ranadivé era. Trading out all assets and replacing it with a young, new team that would grow into the impending new arena. Maybe keep Isaiah Thomas around to run things on the floor, and let coach Michael Malone set the tone. Sigh.
Where was I? Oh yeah, 2017. De'Aaron Fox. Justin Jackson. Harry Giles. Frank Mason. Bogdan Bogdanovic. Georgios Papagiannis. Malachi Richardson. Skal Labissiere. Buddy Hield. That's nine players of undetermined potential. Willie Cauley-Stein is still an unanswered question. Add in how George Hill's play may aid the development of the young players. This season's team promises to be entertaining, exciting, exasperating, infuriating. When it's all said and done, the odds say that there will be far more failures than successes, and far more disappointments than pleasant surprises. But if even two of these young players can give the hint that they are destined to produce at a high level, it could at least be argued that the team might...just might...be headed in the right direction.
It's been over eleven years since the Kings hosted an NBA playoff game. It appears that this will not change anytime soon. Expectations are through the floor, and Kings fans are looking for any shred of momentum to grab onto, be it Fox or Skal or BB or someone else.
I'm looking forward to this season. I really couldn't say the same thing at the beginning of last year, as I felt that the Kings had missed the premium window to deal DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is now gone, and the windows have been thrown open. Is that the right direction? Time will tell, but I'm going to have a lot more fun watching this team this year. That's something, right? Right?!?
Greg Wissinger: Such a difficult question. The Kings hit the reset button, and did so in a swift and efficient manner. Instead of a team chasing the 8th seed by packing subpar role players around Cousins, we'll get to enjoy an honest rebuild with a long term goal. In that sense, the Kings are on the right track.
But it's still too early to know if they've made the right decisions. How many of these young lotto tickets will hit? Will the vets fit with the youth movement or hinder it? Are Vlade and Joerger the right guys to navigate the next three years? These are all questions we've been debating all summer, and that we won't really have answers to for at least a year or two. They're on the right track by pursuing a rebuild. If the rebuild is on the right track is far more uncertain.
Bryant West: In trading Cousins, the Kings went on in on a full, mostly proper rebuild... which, in the end, will be successful or fail based on how many of Vlade's draft picks pan out. Thanks to his two best moves as GM (the two draft day trades), Vlade has gotten 8 picks in the last three years. That's an impressive number for any rebuilding team, and that's ignoring perhaps the two best youngsters on the roster. How many of those players are NBA difference makers?
Is Willie really a impact level player on both ends? Is Skal really the unicorn he flashed last year? Is Harry Giles really a high-end lottery ticket? Is Buddy really a multilevel scorer? Is Bogdan really going to convert to the faster NBA? Is DeAaron Fox really the high-end floor general we're all desperately projecting he can be?
I'm an optimistic fan. (Especially when patient development means one more, hopefully-last shot at the lottery. 2018's class looks promising).
Tim Maxwell: Overall, yes. After dealing Boogie, the Kings began a dismantling of their always hopeless playoff goal, and swapped that dead dream for the longer term plan of a rebuild.
A franchise overhaul needs to focus on acquiring as many young players and draft picks as possible, and Vlade Divac has certainly accomplished that task, turning an aging, unsuccessful team into 10 players on rookie contracts in just a short period of time. That plethora of possible prospects will allow Sacramento to have a chance to develop a young core, while possibly moving a couple of those pieces to acquire better players in a couple of years, or to extend the rebuild by replacing the 2019 first round pick. That sounds like a pretty solid plan to me.
My biggest concern with this direction is that I'm not entirely certain the Kings have managed to snag themselves a centerpiece player. Hield, Labissiere, Fox, and maybe even Giles could have the chops to fill that role, and there's still one more lottery pick to come in June, but that's a giant hole that has yet to be filled.
The Kings are on a much better path than at any point in the last several years, it just remains to be seen if it will lead them to the post season success that we all desperately crave.
Omer Khan: I'd say yes, but to me that's the easiest part. Give credit to Vlade that he's handled the last two drafts well from an asset perspective. Hindsight smiles at the Cousins trade, given the return other teams have netted for their All-Stars this past summer. The Kings have a clear-cut direction with their abundance of youth, with a solid group of vets plus a proven coaching staff to bring them along.
But just because the boat is pointed in the right direction doesn't mean it's smooth sailing to the destination. The Kings will need to produce stars for a successful rebuild, whether it comes from their current roster or a future pick. And, owing an unprotected pick in 2019, they are running short on ammo to land one. It's almost a foregone conclusion that not all the youth on the roster will pan out, and getting the most value out of the youth who are on the outside looking in will take some shrewd management down the line.
There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm happy with the start. Bring on another rebuild.
Will Griffith: No, honestly, I don't think I can say the Kings are on the right track just yet. Is our coaching and basketball talent promising? Yes. Are we in a more stable place now than we were this time last year? Sure. Are we going to be horrible to watch? Hell no! Give me this team over the Shock and Hawes team any day. But any franchise whose fans are already praying for ping-pong balls and many of whom are actively rooting for a losing season can't be considered on the right track. Yes this team has said all the right things going into the season; it's about growth and development and our off-season signings show that the Kings aren't trying to win a championship this year. But, that's the point of the game right? To win a championship? The right track is the one that points to a championship, and it is still in the best long term interests of the Kings franchise to move as far away from that destination as possible. Once our core is set, Sacramento loses their way to a superstar (knock on wood), they get through the growing pains and finally have a season that is to just win games and not "survive without a major league-wide embarrassment", then I can say we're on the right track. I see the track, they're mighty close, but for now, they're chillin' at the station.
(Will typed his response in Comic Sans for maximum take hotness but alas we can’t change the font on an actual article)
Adam Beddawi: I think since the DeMarcus Cousins trade, I think, the team has seen a vision through about as committed as any team in the league.
I like the stable of young players, I like the veteran mentors and I like the newly minted pledge of continuity in basketball operations. This doesn't mean that the young players will pan out as they should, or that the veterans will provide the leadership and productivity the young guys need, or that Vlade and Joerger will actually be good at their jobs over the course of time. That stuff will come to be known.
However, the Kings are doing what they're supposed to. The young players might not all be good, but it's good that they'll have to earn their playing time by beating out older vets, at least one of which the Kings have at every position. The Kings have long term cap flexibility and about three years before they need to make a decision on a lot of their young guys. In the meantime, because of that cap flexibility, they can still rework the roster.
All of this has me pretty excited for this upcoming year in a way that, honestly, I haven't been in years past.
Blake Ellington: Stability has been one of the major issues with the Kings in recent years. By extending the contracts of Vlade Divac and Dave Joerger (who had the team playing competitively after the DeMarcus Cousins trade), the franchise has made a step in the direction of having a stable front office and coaching staff. That is major progress, in my opinion. The questions about the roster remain, but the team drafted a potential franchise player in De’Aaron Fox and have some good prospects around him. How well that works out remains to be seen, but at least a legitimate rebuild is in the works.
For these reasons, I would say yes, the Kings are on the right track.
Akis Yerocostas: Sure, the Kings are on the right track. They did what they had to in dealing DeMarcus Cousins and they’ve finally committed to a long term plan. That’s something that we couldn’t say in years past when this team was trying to throw anything at the wall and see what stuck, all in the name of getting a low playoff seed (which they still never managed to even get close to).
But being on the right track doesn’t guarantee anything. Blowing everything up is easy. The Kings have done an admirable job restocking the larder with assets, but now we have to wait and see if any of these guys turn into real players, whether through their own development or future trades.
And patience is needed. This is not a team that is built to compete this year, or the year after or maybe even the year after that. It’s going to be a long process. Can the Kings be patient and not act rashly if they feel it’s not happening quickly enough? This franchise can’t afford to take anymore shortcuts; Those types of moves killed the rebuild and ironically set the franchise back years during the DeMarcus Cousins era.
The Kings started off on the right foot, as painful as the trade itself was. But the hardest work is yet to come.
Those are our thoughts. Leave yours in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading.