Justin LaCertosa's 2021-2022 NBA Preseason Power Rankings- 25 Sacramento Kings

Justin LaCertosa's 2021-2022 NBA Preseason Power Rankings- 25 Sacramento Kings


Justin LaCertosa's 2021-2022 NBA Preseason Power Rankings- 25 Sacramento Kings


Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Although not as hectic as 2018 and 2019, the NBA offseason saw contending teams add new pieces to get over the hump, while many young groups went out of their way to worsen their team in hopes of landing a top draft pick. With the dynamic of the league looking much different than the year prior, TWSN analyst Justin LaCertosa dives into what to expect from each group going into next season, this time, with the Sacramento Kings.

Despite being home to one of basketball’s most electric young stars, the Sacramento front office continues to show it’s incapability of building a proper supporting cast around their franchise guy. De’Aaron Fox has already proven himself to be one of basketball’s premier point guards, combining his sweet scoring skillset with his freak athleticism and playmaking to be a capable lead option on a playoff team. He uses his quick first-step to pressure the rim, while being one of basketball’s top decision makers, finding openings to kick out to open shooters when slashing. As a scorer, Fox has a repertoire of mid-range moves to go to, making him one of the league’s most valuable mid-range scorers. Not only that, Fox has developed a reliable outside shot, as he turned a pre-draft weakness into a valuable skill. Despite being a hot and cold shooter, Fox has nights where he’s capable of lighting a team up from beyond the arc, making him a guy defense’s can’t sag off from. Most notably, Fox’s ability to get out in the open court and single-handedly outgun teams is a trait that not many players in league history can perfect, helping his ability to engineer high octane offenses.

Fox has already shown the world he’s one of basketball’s top 30 players, and he’s even lingering around the top 25 range after just his fourth season. However, Sacramento has given him the DeMarcus Cousins treatment by not surrounding him with proper pieces to be successful, and it’s clear they need to move on from multiple players to get back into the playoff hunt.

Some of the surrounding guys have shown massive upside, and have locked themselves into Sacramento’s future core for good reason. Tyrese Haliburton had a shockingly good rookie season, as he made himself a rookie of the year dark horse due to his beautiful outside shot and playmaking, while also showing small spurts of creation and defensive potential. Richaun Holmes has continued to develop year by year on both ends, as he’s become a more than capable defender while also being a versatile offensive option and exquisite play-finisher. And, although slightly overpaid, Harrison Barnes brings a gritty veteran presence in the locker room, while also providing useful contributions to the team night in and night out. Outside of those four, however, the Kings’ depth is incredibly bleak.

Although still a great complimentary piece, Buddy Hield’s departure from the Kings seems to be long overdue. Multiple reports have stated that Hield and the Kings organization have not gotten along as well as they should, as Hield has been in and out of the starting group for no particular reason, when it’s clear as day he should be a starter. Hield is one of the best shooters in the league, and he’s also shown an underrated creation game, but Sacramento has failed to utilize him properly. The Kings have been shopping Hield for years, and it’s time a deal gets done to send Hield out of Sacramento, especially with the emergence of Tyrese Haliburton and the recent draft pick of Davion Mitchell.

Another roadblock in Sacramento’s way is Marvin Bagley. Although Bagley has shown signs of offensive prowess, there’s too many holes in his game to consider him a long-term piece. Bagley should be a five due to his offensive skill set and size, but he may be the worst big man defender in basketball, limiting his ability to play down low effectively. He’s also lacked awareness offensively, especially as a passer, and his inability to stay on the court is a massive liability. In three seasons, Bagley has only played 118 total games, and with nagging injuries every year, Bagley has already shown he’s one of the league’s most injury prone players. It’s also been clear that Bagley is unhappy in Sacramento, so like Hield, it’s evident the former second overall pick has overstayed his welcome.

The selection of Davion Mitchell at the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft was also a head-scratcher. Mitchell is a great win-now prospect with lots of room to grow, but his fit on this team doesn’t seem to be there. Standing at just six foot tall, Mitchell will struggle in three guard lineups guarding bigger players, as although his never give up mentality on defense allows him to play bigger than he is, he’s still bound to struggle against bigger guards and skilled wings. His offensive game doesn’t make up for it either, as although he’s more than serviceable on that end with a blazing first-step and a knack as a playmaker, he hasn’t shown he can be a reliable scorer at the next level, and his shooting could raise some red flags. Mitchell’s career trajectory is still in a good spot, as there’s almost no chance he’s not a great backup guard at the worst, but on a Kings team filled with backcourt talent, Sacramento may not be an ideal home for the Baylor alum.

What perhaps may be the biggest problem for the Kings is Luke Walton being behind the playbook. Sacramento has a good amount of firepower on offense, but it’s completely misutilized with Walton making the plays. A good portion of the offense is for Fox to get the ball and create for the team, so Sacramento’s offense has been one of the more predictable ones since hiring Walton. Not only that, but the Kings also have a few players who can shine as diamond in the rough prospects like Louis King and Chimezie Metu, but Walton simply hasn’t used them enough. It’s almost certain Walton won’t be employed by the Kings by next offseason, as the only reason he’s still there is so Sacramento can save money, but another year of Walton is another year down the drain for De’Aaron Fox’s career.

Overall, although the Kings have a solid roster on paper, some of the fits are extremely questionable, and with Walton calling the shots, the fit’s won’t get any better. The Kings should focus on trading Hield and Bagley as soon as possible, and when Walton is inevitably fired, the Kings should be in a better spot. But, until that happens, the Kings will have yet another season of being one of the bottom teams in the West.


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