Sacramento Kings 2016-17 record: 32-50 (12th in Western Conference)
Additions: De’Aaron Fox (Draft), Justin Jackson (Draft), Harry Giles (Draft), Frank Mason III (Draft), Vince Carter (Free agency), George Hill (Free Agency), Zach Randolph (Free Agency), Bogdan Bogdanović (Free Agency), Jack Cooley (Free Agency- Two way contract), JaKarr Simpson (Free Agency-Two way contract)
Subtractions: Anthony Tolliver (Free agency), Arron Affalo (Free Agency), Tyreke Evans (Free Agency), Ben McLemore (Free Agency), Ty Lawson (Free Agency), Rudy Gay (Free Agency)
The Kings have not been a playoff team for a few years. Mid-way through the previous season their direction as a team changed. Trading DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans for younger players, it signals the team is setting itself up. With no player trades in the off-season and 4 draft picks, the Kings are doing exactly that.
From the draft, the major pick was De’Aaron Fox. Fox in his sole year Kentucky showed himself as a scoring point guard. This was a position the Kings have had issues filling. Justin Jackson is a strong swingman pick, having impressed in his 3 years of college. He helped take North Carolina to the 2017 NCAA title as well. Harry Giles inclusion is surprising. A promising talent in Duke, he did not show much. Kings might want to make him a productive bench member. Frank Mason III, selected for the All-American first team. His averages in the final year of college showed his talent. He should add depth and competition for the starting point guard slot. In free agency, the four big additions are all experienced.
To introduce Vince Carter, his athleticism and all-round play have not stopped him. He is coming off the best of the three seasons he spent in Memphis. His teammate Randolph embodied the grit and grind style of Memphis. Accepting a role off the bench, he still contributed 14 points, 8 rebounds a night. The two of them, can still contribute on the court. They will also take the leadership and mentoring roles for this young team. George Hill had a great season with Utah as well, despite significant injuries. Bogan Bogdanović is one of the best European basketball players today and has won individual and team accolades.
The Kings despite heading in the right direction, they are not a playoff contending team. They will be one in the future. Other contending franchises added star players in their prime. The Kings are not doing so. They are clearly building up. George Hill’s contract does raise a few question marks, given his recent injury record. With lot of competition of at the number 1-2 spots, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Kings can give sufficient playing time to all the youngsters, without upsetting them. This will be a challenge that has to be overcome.
The Kings are setting up for playoff runs in the near future. It will not come this season. Last season’s trade of Cousins focused on Buddy Hield. He had a better end to the season than his stint at New Orleans. The Kings need this season to set themselves up for the upcoming season with a strong young core. The playoffs will return from 2018-19 onwards if all goes well.