Behind Enemy Lines: Are the Kings a legitimate threat next season?
Pacific Division foe assessment + Open Thread
I’m finally recovering from the shame of watching the defending champion Golden State Warriors get mercilessly TKO’ed out of the second round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers. The draft, summer league, and free agency have all given me ample opportunity to mourn the title repeat that never was while getting enough space to accurately assess where the Warriors need to improve.
It’s also given me the opportunity to check out the social media chatter about some of the enemies of the Golden Empire who are striving to outrace the Dubs to next year’s title.
Some of those enemies come straight from Golden State’s Pacific Division, which literally had nothing but playoff teams last season. Can you imagine the entire division is filled with teams that make it to the postseason dance?
One of those teams was the Sacramento Kings, a young upstart with tons of regular season accolades like Coach of the Year, Clutch Player of the Year, and Rebounder of the Year.
They also had a 2-0 lead on the Warriors, remember that?
They pushed the champs to 7 games in the first round last season before Stephen Curry gave his infamous bus speech and then incinerated Sactown and shut off their BEAM.
During that series we learned some things like: Jordan Poole’s defense was horrendous, Kevon Looney and Draymond Green own Domantas Sabonis’ soul, and Sacramento is officially not a part of the Bay after disrespecting the legend E-40. Also, De’Aaron Fox is a PROBLEM!
There’s some fresh news associated with this squad as they just signed center Nerlens Noel today. Greg Wissinger of our blog buddy The King Herald had this comment:
After using cap space to extend Domantas Sabonis, re-sign Harrison Barnes, and re-sign Trey Lyles, the Kings were left with only minimum contracts remaining to fill out their roster. Noel is an excellent value for one of those spots.
Noel never lived up to his draft position, and had a really down season last year playing limited games for the Pistons and Nets, but he's still just 29 years old and is a proven defender, rebounder, and shot-blocker, skills the Kings have desperately needed in the front court. I'm a big fan of this move, especially on a low-cost, one-year deal.
Also Keegan Murray, last year’s #4 overall pick, lit the scoreboard up in summer league after having some quality moments against the Warriors in the postseason. From the Kings’ Herald:
Over two games Keegan Murray averaged 35 points per game on 18.5 field goal attempts. He shot 10 threes per game, averaging 45% from beyond the arc. He got to the free throw line for 13 attempts per game. He averaged 1.5 steals and 2 blocks per game. Regardless of how you feel about the level of Summer League competition, those are superb numbers.
I personally believe those averages are likely to continue in the regular season, but even if you're a hater who thinks otherwise it's still the kind of performance that should excite Kings fans. Keegan looked confident and relaxed and in control. I'm eager to see what he does this year.
Going into next year, how much of a threat do you assess them to be?
A lotta good young talent here with a great coach in former Warriors’ assistant Mike Brown! You know what, maybe Mr. Curry will be kind enough to allow them to bring that BEAM back out again for this season.