Editor’s Note: Welcome to our 2020 Kings Season Preview series, where we’ll be looking ahead to what this season will bring for every member of this Sacramento roster and pondering both best and worst-case scenarios. Today, let’s continue with Richaun Holmes.
How did he get here?
After stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns, Holmes signed a two-year deal worth $10 million prior to the 2019-20 NBA season. He came off the bench for the first four games of last season, but head coach Luke Walton inserted Holmes into the starting lineup after the 2017 second-round pick had 24 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Walton moved the now-departed DeWayne Dedmon to the bench and never looked back. Holmes started 38 out of the next 40 games he suited up and finished the season averaging 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 64.8 percent from the field. Holmes established himself as the go-to option after center, ahead of Harry Giles and Alex Len, who both signed elsewhere during free agency.
What is his best-case scenario for 2020-21?
Holmes had 13 double-doubles last season, and it would be a huge boost for the Kings if he can improve on those numbers. He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, blocks, free throws and minutes per game, earning Walton’s trust along the way. Sacramento scored 3.4 more points per 100 possessions with Holmes on the court, and the team’s overall net rating was 4.7 points better when Holmes was playing, per NBA.com.
The Kings need Holmes to continue to be a double-double threat every night and play good positional defense. It would be a tremendous help to Sacramento’s defense if Holmes can improve his shot blocking after he averaged 1.3 blocks per game last season. The biggest knock on his Holmes is his lack of ability to stretch the floor. He hasn’t attempted a 3-pointer over the last two seasons, but Holmes has shown that he does have some range. He connected on 27-of-77 attempts from beyond the arc with the Sixers during the 2016-17 season, but has failed to come close to those totals since. If Holmes can add that element to his game, the Kings would be getting even more from a player who is making a little more than $5 million this season.
What is his worst-case scenario?
Holmes regresses from the player he was last season. The 27-year-old was an afterthought with Philadelphia and became expendable during the 2018 offseason, which resulted in him being traded to the Suns for cash considerations. Holmes has to prove that his breakout year wasn’t a fluke, but if he fails to improve his rim protection, Walton will have to adjust his rotations to get a more consistent anchor for the defense on the floor. The team pushed the pace more often when Holmes was on the bench last season and with Walton wanting to play faster, Holmes will need to be able to keep pace.
If Holmes didn’t work on his shooting during the offseason, opposing defenses will let him wander around the perimeter on the offensive end. Point guard De’Aaron Fox needs all the space he can get to create for his teammates, and it will go a long way if Holmes can develop into a league-average shooter from the outside. He missed 25 games with a shoulder injury last season, so the hope is that he will be able to stay healthy and lockdown the starting center position.
The 2020-21 season is a big one for Holmes. If he puts up similar numbers to what he produced last year, Holmes will be in line for a big raise. General manager Monte McNair brought in veterans Hassan Whiteside and Frank Kaminsky to give the Kings some depth at center, so Walton will have the option to make adjustments depending on the opponent. Holmes feels at home in Sacramento and if he can continue to be a good fit next to Fox and the rest of the squad, he could sign a long-term deal that keeps him with the organization for the foreseeable future.
What are your expectations for Holmes during the new season?