Since the Sacramento Kings’ playoff drought began in 2007, there have been numerous reasons why the team has been unable make it back to the postseason. Obviously it is very hard to make the playoffs in the ever competitive Western Conference, but it is also tough to not lose a large amount of games in the Pacific Division.
For 16 games, 20% of the season, the Kings are forced to contend with the Warriors, Lakers, Suns, and Clippers. All of these teams are likely to make the playoffs this season, and a couple of the teams are already being considered contenders to win the NBA Finals. Each team also has at least one player that has been/is in consideration for league MVP.
Outside of the division, there are also at least six teams with at least one legitimate superstar on their roster. The West is essentially a deathtrap where good teams kill each other off while stomping over the rest of their mediocre peers.
If the Kings are to make a legitimate run at reaching the playoffs, they will need to accomplish these three changes at minimum.
1. Add roster depth
The Kings currently have one of the most shallow rosters in league. Outside the core of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Richaun Holmes, Harrison Barnes, and Buddy Hield Sacramento’s only other standout player is Davion Mitchell, who is a rookie. If they even want to stand a chance in the regular season, they will need much more.
In an ideal scenario, the Kings would make a trade for a young, skilled wing like Brandon Ingram, Michael Porter Jr., or Jerami Grant since the team is guard heavy. However, it is not likely that they land a player of that caliber.
Therefore, the smart move would be to trade/pick up a versatile wing that a team is more likely to give up. Preferably one that can play both ways and run. In the interim, the easiest fix would be to give forward Louis King a chance. He already has a two-way contract signed with the Kings and has proven his ability to play the game well.
Another great option would be to trade for Brandon Clarke of the Memphis Grizzlies. He is slightly bigger than King and can not shoot as well, but can provide us with help on the interior on both sides of the ball. The Grizzlies have cut his minutes drastically this season and it does not look like he will be getting them back any time soon.
Darius Bazley of the Oklahoma City Thunder is also a realistic choice. He is young, athletic, and has the skills to blossom into a good wing. With the trade happy Thunder, it is something Monte McNair could work out.
2. Finish games
If you’re a Kings fan you are all too familiar with the phrase “No Kings lead is safe”. This is because all too often the team will give up a lead and allow teams to comeback and beat them. It does not matter how big the lead is or if the other team is worse, the Kings find a way to blow it. No matter what division of conference they’re in, you have to be able to finish a game.
Whether this is a coaching issue or the players it doesn’t matter. If they want to save this season the team needs to be able to close a game out no matter the situation. Kings’ center Tristan Thompson addressed this situation after their loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Hopefully whatever Thompson and the other players spoke about has an impact on the season and this change is already in effect.
“Defense wins championships”. Yes it is very cliché, but it is true. Looking back on some recent NBA Finals champions. The Bucks have multiple players who pride themself on their ability to play defense. The Lakers had Anthony Davis and LeBron James are both able to guard any position effectively. The Raptors had Kawhi Leonard who’s literal nickname is “The Klaw”. The Warriors had Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Sacramento is nowhere near contending for a championship. But if they are to even make the playoffs they will need to increase their defensive efficiency. The Kings currently have the eighth worst defensive rating in the league at 109.6. That just isn’t going to cut it unless they had two to three guys that could give them 30 a night, like Brooklyn last season.
The team has already begun to address this problem by drafting Mitchell. However, they need more than one guy. if they were able to get two more legitimate defenders than can still aid the offense while halting their opponent.
If these changes are made soon, things could very likely turn around in Sacramento.