We don’t typically cover NBA Power Rankings because let’s face it, you usually have to scroll almost all the way through the article to get to where the Kings are and that’s a lot of wear and tear on a mouse.
But after a 3-1 road trip (even one in which the Kings were blown out of the water by Milwaukee), the NBA world is starting to take notice. It could all come crashing down at any moment, but for now let’s see what those around the league are saying:
ESPN - #17 (Previously 24th)
The young Kings have opened in perhaps the most surprising fashion in the NBA with a 6-4 record after having a five-game win streak snapped against the Bucks on Sunday. Second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox seems like an early candidate for Most Improved Player, as he is averaging 19.0 points on 50.4 percent shooting from the field, 7.8 rebounds, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals entering this week.
The Athletic - #14 (Previously 24th)
It took annihilation from the Milwaukee Bucks to slow down this out-of-control, careening hype train that is the Sacramento Kings. They’re won five straight games before Giannis Antetokounmpo used the Kings as his own personal Nerf hoop on Sunday. De’Aaron Fox has been playing out of his mind. His control of the game speed and knowledge of when to use his athleticism reminds me a lot of young Mike Conley.
Sports Illustrated - #17 (Previous 25th)
De’Aaron Fox is a problem. His 20.0 points, 8.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds over the course of the week were all the confirmation I need to think Sacramento has a potential All-Star running point right now. Don’t expect the wins to keep piling up like this for the Kings, but if Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica can keep up with what they’ve done to start the year and Buddy Hield stays above 40% shooting from three, they will at least be entertaining and create an environment that allows Fox to continue to improve.
CBS Sports - #19 (Previously 25th)
OK, so the “Are the Kings a legit middle-of-the-road team?” questions when they had won five in a row were a bit overheated. Those five wins came against not exactly the best competition -- Grizzlies, Wizards, Heat, Magic, Hawks -- and then they got smashed by the Bucks on Sunday. Still: You gotta beat the bad teams, and so far, the Kings have. Willie Cauley-Stein has the seventh-highest net rating in the NBA, which is a sentence I never expected to write. Only the Lakers and the Warriors get more fast-break points per game than the Kings.
NBA.com - #10 (Previously 19th)
Though the Kings still stand as the league’s most improved offensive team (having scored 7.2 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season), their five-game winning streak (their longest since they won five straight in January of 2016) was as much about defense (their opponents shot just 29 percent from 3-point range and scored just 99 points per 100 possessions) as it was about offense. There’s some concern in that they rank last in shot-location defense, with only 23 percent of their opponents’ shots having come from between the restricted area and 3-point range (and they haven’t played the Rockets yet). The winning streak came to an end in Milwaukee on Sunday, the first of a five-game stretch where four of the five opponents rank in the top 10 on offense.
In the near decade I’ve spent writing for Sactown Royalty and all the years John Schuhmann has done the NBA.com Power Rankings, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Kings at 10th or better.
Of course, the upcoming schedule is incredibly tough, so let’s see how these young Kings step up to the challenge.