One of the pleasant surprises of last year’s free agency period — not just for the Sacramento Kings, but around the league — was Richaun Holmes. After a somewhat disastrous year in Phoenix in 2018-19 (likely little fault of his own, because the Suns are what they are), Holmes was available at a discount this offseason, and Sacramento swiped him off the market for some frontcourt depth at the team-friendly price of $10 million over two years.
Holmes ended up as the starter at center five games into the season, and didn’t relinquish his hold on that spot until he injured his shoulder. His 17 points and 9 rebounds in his first start proved prescient as Holmes averaged 13.4 points and 8.8 rebounds in 33 games as a starter. He was remarkably efficient in the process, shooting 66.3% from the field and 83.1% from the foul line while in the starting lineup. Holmes ranked in the 93rd percentile of bigs in true shooting percentage, and the only big who was more efficient with a higher usage rate was Rudy Gobert.
The Kings had a -2.4 point differential this season, per Cleaning the Glass, but they were above water (+1.1 points per 100 possessions) with Holmes on the floor. It was quite the impressive jump for Holmes from a big off the scrap heap to an above-average starting center, and he should be an excellent bargain at the room exception next season.
Holmes actually has much loftier goals than being a serviceable starter, though. In a Twitter Q&A Tuesday, Holmes revealed that he wants to be great in his NBA career.
“Me, personally, I’ve got big goals. I want to make an All-Star team, I want to win a championship and I want to try and put my bid in for the Hall of Fame. I want to try and reach for the stars, do the best I can and get the best out of myself that I can, so I’m definitely going to push myself.”
For context, Holmes finished 52nd among Western Conference frontcourt players in All-Star voting this season, earning three player votes while finishing 60th in fan voting. He’ll have a tough time cracking the All-Star game so long as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George continue to play in Los Angeles. Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, and Zion Williamson don’t figure to go anywhere anytime soon either.
Nevertheless, Holmes already made one impressive jump this past offseason, and at 26 years old, there is plenty of time for him to continue to improve. He clearly has a high motor and a willingness to work, and that will serve him well as he and Kings hope to mature into a contender in the West.
The entire Q&A is a lot of fun to watch. My personal favorite part is Holmes describing what superpower he would want to have. It’s certainly unique.