SacTown fans rejoice!
This season will be the Kings best in recent history. The rise of Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox will be on full display for the entire league to see (arguably the best young backcourt in the league).
With the departure of Willie Cauley-Stein, a player that never fully thrived in the Kings’ system, Luke Walton will be able to fully manipulate the line-up to fit the playstyle that he believes best suits this roster (hint: it’s gonna be fast).
2018-19 Regular Season Record: 39-43
2018-19 Regular Season Standing: 3rd in Pacific Division, 9th in Western Conference
2018-19 Playoff Result: N/A
Notable Additions: Dewayne Dedmon, Richuan Holmes, Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza
Notable Losses: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Ben McLemore, Kosta Koufos
2019-20 Predicted Regular Season Record: 41-41
2019-20 Predicted Regular Season Standing: 4th in Pacific Division, 8th in Western Conference
2019-20 Predicted Playoff Result: First Round Exit
Their Best Player
Buddy Hield is going to have a crazy year.
The sharp-shooting guard already exploded to score more than 20ppg last season, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Pairing him alongside such an explosive player in Fox will give him a lot of open shots off the catch and also force defences to help over on Fox, allowing him to fully thrive against a constantly shifting defence.
His increased offensive ability has meant that his ball handling has improved, his passing ability has also gone up and his turnovers per game have almost halved since first arriving at the Kings. Offensively, Buddy has a very sound foundation that he can build upon to be a scarily good player.
Defensively, he has shown signs of improvement as well. This has mainly been through effort alone. His willingness to grind out defensive possessions and always remain as a spark-plug has given the Kings defence many boosts of energy when they needed it. Although he will never be a lockdown perimeter defender, he will certainly never be a liability either.
When you pair this with his offensive potential, Buddy will thrive under Luke Walton.
Their ‘Golden Nugget’ Player
I really wanted to give this award to Richuan Holmes. I really did. The player that every hardcore fan wants on their team despite his seeming lack of offers from teams.
But I had to give it to Bogdan Bogdanović.
The Serbian small forward is entering his third year in the league. Entering the final year of his contract, Bogdanović will be desperate to solidify himself as a permanent member of the rotation, even after the contract that was given to Harrison Barnes.
We have seen flashes of his potential. His high arching jumpshot always looks short coming out of his hands, but time and time again it glides through the bottom of the net just as purely as it came off his fingertips. This is not at all weakened off the dribble either, he can just as comfortably knock down a stepback shot as he does when he has a catch-and-shoot opportunity.
His broad frame gives him room when he attacks the bucket. Putting his head down and attacking the basket seems to be second-nature to him, despite his lack of pace. This, paired with his great passing instincts, allows him to drive and dish whenever he has the ball.
With spot up shooters all around him on the court, Bogdanović allows the Kings offense to move fluently and sharply whenever he has the ball in his hands.
What more can be said about Luke Walton that hasn’t already been said?
Widely considered a fantastic coach during his tenure with the Warriors and pre-LeBron Lakers, his reputation was put into question when LeBron arrived in town. This is nothing new however.
Last season should not change your mind about Walton. The Lakers needed a scapegoat for their failures, and with LeBron-led teams, the coach is always the first on the firing line. Walton was always going to be fired.
Walton has already come out and said that the Kings will shoot a lot of 3’s next season. A young coach who understands the trends of the modern game is exactly who the Kings needed.
And it is exactly who they got.
Walton is not afraid to hold his players accountable. He has said that the great coaches he played for always made sure that players acknowledged their mistakes, doing this forces players to uphold the standard of play that their coaches expect.
Experience with success while he was an assistant coach with the Warriors and when he was playing on the Kobe-led Lakers teams, Walton understands what it takes to win and the appropriate sacrifices that need to be made.
The Kings are in good hands, and if last season is anything to go off, they will be for a long time now.
Strap yourselves in.
This team is going to be a fast-paced, three-point fuelled offensive menace that can beat any team on their night. The raw talent that this roster has really shows the capacity that they have to put together an amazing season.
With a Fox-Hield-Barnes-Bagley offence, opposing teams should be worried whenever this team steps onto the hardwood.
Although they lack the experience right now, it is something that I’m sure they will develop as the year passes.
This team will be a serious threat in the NBA this year.