The Sacramento Kings went 4-0 this preseason and the vibes around the team are generally rosy entering the season.
Ultimately, that record doesn’t mean anything in terms of how they are going to perform when the regular season rolls around. With most of those wins coming against teams resting key guys and experimenting with lineups, it’s hard to put much stock into the final result.
What is more worthwhile is zooming in on individual players and teamwide trends that could carry over.
Let’s look at a couple of trends over the preseason and make some potentially hyperbolic statements based off just the preseason and determine whether we believe them or not.
The Kings made the right pick with Davion Mitchell
It was widely expected that Mitchell was going to be a difference-maker on defense for the Kings the minute he stepped onto an NBA floor. Mitchell proved that several times during the preseason, with impressive moments against the likes of LeBron James and Paul George.
The more surprising development, however, was the fact that Mitchell’s offensive game looked pretty polished, specifically his three-ball. Mitchell made 10 of his 19 three-pointers this preseason, on a diverse set of attempts.
“Winning culture,” is an overused and unquantifiable concept at times, but Mitchell certainly seems like a guy that can change the culture of the Kings.
I’m buying Mitchell’s 3-point shooting growth and now fully believe he is going to be a really strong contributor for the Kings this season and going forward.
The Kings’ defense has improved a ton and will be around the middle of the pack defensively
Improving the putrid team defense from last season has been the biggest talking point for the Kings throughout training camp. From De’Aaron Fox, to Tyrese Haliburton, to Luke Walton it seems like the entire organization is aware of how crucial that is this season.
In the preseason, it seemed like there was better connectivity and passion defensively, which may be partially related to adding the aforementioned Mitchell.
I do believe that there will be some improvement on defense, It would be hard to not improve on one of the worst defensive seasons in NBA history. Still though, the idea of the Kings finishing in the top 15 of the league still seems like a major leap of faith.
Mitchell is a great defender, but he doesn’t really help the Kings protect the rim or guard the best playmaking wings in the NBA, two parts of defense that team will continue to struggle with in all likelihood.
The Kings are also likely to give significant minutes to Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield, two of the worst defenders in the NBA at their position.
I see a team that finishes between 25th and 20th in team defense, a major improvement but still undeniably bad on that end.
Verdict: Don’t believe
Richaun Holmes is going to take a step back in effectiveness
Holmes struggled a little bit this preseason. The push shot wasn’t falling and we didn’t see the energy we are accustomed too. Holmes only played 74 minutes, but in that brief amount of time it looked like something was a bit off.
There has been some speculation that Holmes might still be working his way into game shape as well, which might have contributed to the slow start.
Coming off the 4 year $46 Million contract he signed, it would be natural for someone to enjoy the fruits of their labor a little bit more during the offseason.
The Kings gave Holmes that contract because he earned and they are going to continue to rely on him as a starter and major piece moving forward.
At 28 years old, i’d expect Holmes to return to the guy we’ve seen his first two seasons in Sacramento, even though he’s no longer playing for a contract.
It might take a few games for him to get back to the Holmes we know, but I’ll choose to believe the two years of production over four preseason games.
Verdict: Don’t believe
The Kings’ depth is vastly improved compared to the start of the 2020-21 season
At the start of last season, the Kings were devoting real rotation minutes to guys like Glenn Robinson III, Cory Joseph and Hassan Whiteside, all of whom just weren’t very good. Simply replacing the minutes of those guys with Moe Harkless, Mitchell and Tristan Thompson it Alex Len is a small improvement on it’s own.
Also adding Terence Davis and building up the backend of the roster in a more sensible way boosts the overall depth and ability to withstand injuries a good amount as well.
In the preseason, Walton was able to experiment with a variety of untraditional lineups that the Kings will likely lean on this season.
Their still isn’t much wing depth on the roster as it stands, but the Kings can go about 5 guards deep, something not a lot of teams in the NBA can say.
The Kings had some of the worst depth in the NBA last season, and now it’s closer to the middle of the pack. The Kings would often lose games because their second unit just couldn’t keep them in games.
This year, I think the second unit is better constructed and won’t be quite the disaster it was a season ago.
Let’s see whether some of these preseason conclusions bear out for the Kings once the season begins on Wednesday.