Watching the NBA Finals and the playoffs is an annual reminder of how far the Sacramento Kings are behind the league’s best teams. The Boston Celtics’ thrilling comeback over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday was another example of this difference.
One thing that jumped off the screen was the amount of wing talent on the court for both teams, a roster flaw Sacramento has had for its entire playoff drought.
Both teams are chalked full of guys between 6 foot 5 and 6 foot 9 that can shoot, defend, and dribble. Boston’s two best players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown fit this bill. For the Warriors, their wing depth is just silly, with Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and Andre Igoudala all at this height with the ability to dribble, defend, and or shoot.
Harrison Barnes is the only wing player on Sacramento’s roster from 2022 who could have held their own in Thursday’s game. Aside from Barnes, Sacramento relied on a wing rotation of Moe Harkless, Josh Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday to finish last season. Having this as your wing depth, and expecting to make the playoffs, isn’t realistic.
Heading into last season, it was evident the Kings didn’t have enough wing talent, and they didn’t do anything to address this weakness.
Over the course of the 16-year playoff drought, it’s hard to remember one season where the Kings have had two above-average wing players on the roster at the same time. The list of guys the Kings have relied on for big minutes on the wings over the years is depressing. Aside from Barnes, Rudy Gay and Metta Sandiford-Artest (formerly Ron), it’s a sad list of names.
For whatever reason, Sacramento has almost always leaned towards drafting either big men or guards and has just tried to piece it together at the wing spot, despite that position’s importance league-wide.
Picking at No. 4 in this year’s draft, Sacramento is in the position where they could land a talented wing. Draft boards have Jaden Ivey as the most common selection for Sacramento, which would be the third year in a row, Sacramento has drafted a guard with its first-round pick.
If General Manager Monte McNair thinks Ivey is the best player available, then he absolutely should draft him, but it would further exacerbate Sacramento’s roster imbalance.
If not the draft, Sacramento’s other two options to address this issue, either free agency or trade, don’t provide any clear answer either. The problem for Sacramento in this regard is that almost every team in the league is looking for these exact types of guys.
There are a few names that could fit this bill in this year’s free-agent class, but none of the names really blow your socks off. A few realistic names that stand out as ideal fits for the Kings are: Porter Jr., T.J. Warren, Taurean Prince, Caleb Martin, and Cody Martin, to name a few.
As far as the trade market, Jerami Grant and O.G. Anunoby are both guys, who would be perfect fits in Sacramento, but will have hefty asking prices if they are even on the trade market at all.
There are no easy answers for how this issue gets resolved, but it’s clear that if Sacramento intends to make a serious leap towards playoff contention in 2022-23, then it just has to be addressed, one way or another.