Remember when Charles Barkley predicted that the Kings would make the playoffs this season?
As much as I appreciate the optimism Charles, it wasn’t going to be true. We head into the new season hoping for something new, like a playoff push, but instead fall into the same misery over and over again. As much as I would love to be talking about the possibility of playoffs, here we are going back and forth about the same thing that has been bugging this team for the last twelve years, especially in recent years: draft position.
Instead of fans uniting and being ecstatic about a potential playoff push, all you see right now is fans being split about winning and losing. Instead of fighting for a playoff spot, the Kings are fighting for a top pick.
As writer of most recaps, it’s frustrating to document a Kings win and then see the comments filled with “This team is so stupid”, “This team can’t even tank right”, or from the recap from the Warriors win, “I’m so mad at this garbage team winning meaningless games and assuring this garbage franchise another 3 garbage seasons.”
Now that’s not very nice, but it’s understandable. The Kings aren’t going anywhere this season so going for the best pick possible is smart, I get it.
But this has to be the last season where we don’t have to talk about their draft position during the final few months of the season. Whoever is drafted this year is for another topic, but let’s go more into culture.
Look at the lead art for this article. We writers don’t choose pictures to headline our articles for no reason or because they look cool. They have meaning behind them. What can you tell about De’Aaron Fox based off the picture?
I want to see more of those moments next season. I take that back. I crave more of those games next season. I want a season of actual playoff hopes and close games, not another season of failed hopes and blowouts to teams that are just as bad (Atlanta Hawks by 46 is an example).
What happened this past off-season when the rookies came in signaled a culture change. I don’t recall a time where I was as legitimately excited about the future of the team and I know I’m not the only one. Buddy Hield’s recent play is a sign of growth and Fox in the clutch is yet another sign.
Let’s take a look at another team that recently had a complete culture change: The San Francisco 49ers. Different sport sure, but a culture that should be desired.
After multiple seasons with terrible records, bad coaching, incompetence during the off-season thanks to their front office, they brought in a new general manager and head coach. Everyone was excited that these guys could make a significant change and after they got their quarterback, the change was made.
The team was 0-9 at one point, but the locker room environment was not toxic. They trusted their coach and it paid off once the 49ers ended the season 5-0, with numerous people jumping on the 49er hype train for next season. Fans and players now love the front office and are starting to trust the decisions being made, which isn’t genuinely happening here. They went from being the second worst team in the league, to having some high expectations for next season.
Basketball is a different beast, and it’s a lot harder to drastically change from season to season compared to a sport like football. I’m not saying that the Kings will be NBA Final favorites within a season, but the type of culture that permeates the 49er organization, players and fans is what I want here.
In recent games, the Kings took the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz all the way to the final seconds. Against the injured Miami Heat, they established a big lead only to see it diminish. Butttttt, they stayed strong and came away with a win. They also beat an injured Golden State team on the road in a hostile environment in the final seconds.
Just like the 49ers got their young quarterback to build around, the Kings got their young players to build around. The team is showing that they are heading for bigger and better things, and I for one can’t help but get excited at wins like that even if it costs the team in lottery position. The 49ers definitely cost their draft position, but they did so by removing the “we don’t suck anymore” label off their back.
I just want this team to matter again. I want to watch more Kings basketball on a seasonal basis. I want to write recaps of playoff games. I want to sweep the Warriors in Oakland when they are fully healthy. I want to blowout the Lakers four times a season and possibly eight if it comes down to the playoffs. I want to go 82-0.
Okay, that’s stretching it farther than Bruno Caboclo’s arms but you get the point. Let’s get excited about winning games again.