ESPN has conducted their annual future rankings (insider) and the Sacramento Kings have once again placed poorly. For the second year in a row the Kings have ranked 29th. Last year I called the ranking “absurdly low”. This year, I simply envy the optimism of my past self.
The ranking are determined by five factors: players, management, money, market, draft.
The Kings tied for 27th in Players. ESPN’s Bobby Marks explained the rating:
Out of the nine first- and second-round picks drafted since 2015 on the roster, only De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic (drafted by Phoenix) and rookie Marvin Bagley III can stake claim to be building blocks for the future. That could change if former first-round pick and once-heralded recruit Harry Giles returns to form after being hampered with injuries for the past 18 months.
While this excludes Buddy Hield since he wasn’t drafted by the Kings (neither was Bogi but he was acquired by the Kings before his rookie season which I’m assuming is why Marks included him), it does show how despite a lengthy run of lottery picks the Kings remain without a clear star to lead the franchise. In a league where the best teams have between two and five All Stars on the roster, the Kings lack a player that can even be called a surefire future All-Star.
The Kings ranked 30th in management, and there’s really not much you can say to argue against it. For every good move the Kings make, it’s overshadowed by multiple front office blunders. Between the front office’s track record and ownership’s history of meddling, there’s not much to dispute this ranking.
The Kings ranked 5th for money. The Kings have maintained a clean cap sheet for the future and are one of the few teams with cap space to facilitate trades this year.
Sacramento ranked 28th as a market. We know Sacramento lacks the free agent allure of...pretty much anywhere else. Big name free agents don’t sign with Sacramento, and that won’t change until the franchise changes it’s front office and on-court image into that of a successful franchise.
For draft assets the Kings tied for 29th. Despite stockpiling second round picks, the Kings have shot themselves in the foot by not owning their 2019 first round pick.
The future isn’t bright right now. That can change with a big trade or with one of the young players emerging, but there’s very little reason for optimism right now. The Kings desperately need Fox or Bagley or Bogi or Buddy to emerge as a true franchise star. All four of those players have the potential to do just that, but it’s hard to blame ESPN for lacking faith in the franchise.