In the modern NBA, where talent at the wing position is the most-coveted luxury year in, year out, the Sacramento Kings have remained on the outside looking in during the majority of their 15-year playoff drought. Unfortunately, this year will be no different.
As it stands today, the Kings have two wing players on their roster with any modicum of NBA experience in Harrison Barnes and Moe Harkless. Barnes had a solid season for the Kings in 2020-21, and Harkless was a fine contributor following a deadline deal from Miami, but if the Kings go into the season with Harkless and Barnes as their only NBA quality wings, they are in for a rude awakening.
Aside from Barnes and Harkless, the Kings have two players — Louis King and Robert Woodard — who are wing-sized, but they have less than 200 combined NBA minutes between the two of them. Woodard is on a guaranteed contract for the 2021-22 season, but he’s looked completely lost in his summer league minutes, while King is intriguing but is currently on a two-way with the team.
Had the proposed Buddy Hield for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell trade gone through, the Kings could have felt some sense of comfort in their wing position, with Kuzma playing big minutes, but for whatever reason, that trade didn’t go through, leaving wing depth as a major need for Sacramento. On the opposite side of the spectrum is their center and guard depth.
The Kings currently have five centers, Richaun Holmes, Alex Len, Tristan Thompson, Neemias Queta, Damian Jones, and two guys who played some center last season in Marvin Bagley and Chimezie Metu. They also have seven guys whose primary position is guard, De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Davion Mitchell, Buddy Hield, Terrance Davis, Jahmi’us Ramsey, and Justin James (who might not have his option picked up).
There are still two months left in the NBA offseason, so this can clearly change, but something has to give. As it stands, there aren’t enough minutes to go around if the Kings are expecting Davion Mitchell to play a significant role as a rookie but also expect Hield, Haliburton, and Fox to play over 30 minutes a game.
It’s likely that the Kings rely heavily on three-guard lineups that include three of Fox, Haliburton, Mitchell, and Hield, but even still, there aren’t enough minutes to go around. It’s tough to imagine rookie Davion Mitchell playing more than 20 minutes a game with the roster in its current state.
In terms of team that want to compete for the playoffs, the Kings might have the worst wing situation in the NBA. At a certain point, Monte McNair and the front office are going to need to address this.
It’s possible that the Kings’ front office is playing the waiting game on potentially available guys like Pascal Siakam and Ben Simmons, but if those don’t come to fruition, the Kings will still need to address their lack of guys between 6’6 and 6’9, which might be easier said than done with the uninspiring crop of free agent wings.
A guy like Josh Hart would help, but the Kings would likely have to surrender talent in a sign-and-trade. Hart is also only 6’5, so he wouldn’t exactly address their need for size on the wing. Other than Hart, no one currently available on the free-agent market moves the needle even in the slightest.
What happens if a guy like Barnes gets sidelined for an extended period? Will the team soley rely on three-guard lineups or is Moe Harkless going to play 30 minutes a game? Neither of those options are enticing for Sacramento and their playoff hopes.
There is still time for this to be addressed, but the clock is ticking.
If the Kings are truly serious about breaking their 15-year playoff drought, then they simply cannot run this imbalanced roster out on opening night in October.