Welcome to Kings In Review, where we’ll be recapping the season for every play that ended the season in Sacramento.
When Neemias Queta was drafted with No. 39 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the necessity for another big man on Sacramento’s roster was not top of mind for Kings fans, especially after the surprise pick of Davion Mitchell at No. 9. And yet, it didn’t take long for the Utah State alum to become a fan favorite.
In December, when the Kings were dealing with a rise in COVID cases, Queta became the first Portuguese-born player to log minutes in an NBA game. In his first outing with Sacramento and the league at large, the Lisbon product contributed five rebounds, one assist and one block.
Prior to his time in Sacramento, Queta was feasting on his opposition in the G League, averaging 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds through 14 games played. While the development wasn’t translating into victories for Stockton, the minutes logged were an enticing vision into what kind of ceiling Queta could have in the association. So why didn’t Queta get the call when bigs ran thin and the roster was depleted?
The Kings “play-in push” was more of a pull as franchise pillars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis were shut down and Richaun Holmes announced his absence with roughly three weeks of the season remaining.
Many expected Sacramento to begin chemistry reads with other role players on the roster, including Queta, when the center position needed to be filled. Once he got his opportunity, Queta averaged 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds through 14 games played. Fourteen games in Stockton, fourteen games in Sacramento.
One thing that translated no matter what level Queta was playing at was effort. Whether he saw the final three minutes of a throw away game vs. Houston or exploded for a career-high 29 points vs. the Oklahoma City Blue, the palpable hunger was present. Queta deserved to be evaluated for his talents at a higher clip this season, and although his future in Sacramento is questionable, there is space for the big man in the association at large.