The Sacramento Kings entered the 2018 NBA season with hopes of just being competitive. As the Kings and the rest of the NBA get ready for what is sure to be a hectic trade deadline, many are wondering if Sacramento will be buyers or sellers? In the past, the Kings have looked for trade partners to lighten their load either cash wise or rid themselves of troubled talent. Not this season.
The Kings are just a few games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Despite their youth, with one big move, they could ease their way as high as the fifth seed before the season is over. But what moves will need to be made?
There were reports that the franchise may look to move Willie Cauley-Stein. While I still see that as a risk, if he’s packaged with the right draft pick or players, the Kings may find their missing like to a strong playoff push.
A glance at their roster and we will see what has driven them to success this season. Teams like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers have relied on a dynamic backcourt. But the Kings are not that far behind with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
Now, the Knicks and Kings were in light discussion for an Enes Kanter and Zach Randolph deal. For the Knicks, this is a salary dump as they are in complete tank mode. For the Kings, this could be the deal that could push them over the top. Adding Kanter and his 14.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game will give the Kings a player with playoff experience and toughness that’s lacking. But is he the one player the Kings are missing?
While adding Kanter will be a huge boost, what’s missing is a defensive presence in the paint. To remedy their weakness, the Kings will need to add a player like Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol.
On offense, the Sacramento Kings are ranked 11th in points scored, ninth in assists, 17th in rebounds, third in three-point percentage and 10th in total FG percentage. Where they fall short in on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, adding a high-profile player like Bradley Beal, Kawhi Leonard or Kyle Kuzma would be ideal, but that’s not what they need. The Kings must focus on the defensive side of the court if they are to have a chance.
Case in point. As great as the Warriors were before Kevin Durant came, the Warriors were one of the best defensive teams in the league. The focus was on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson but the Warriors won titles thanks to the defense of Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, and then JaVale McGee.
If the Kings can find a way to slide Howard, Gasol or even Hassan Whiteside in the lineup, the playoffs are a sure bet.
What’s scary is that the Kings are young, athletic, and constructed in a way that only the Celtics and Warriors can rival. What we’re seeing is a blueprint for success for years to come. The Warriors built their team around shooters then added the necessary defensive pieces to win. The same goes for the Celtics. They went defensive first then added the offensive weapons to contend. The Kings are right there.
Let’s be fair here, the Sacramento Kings will continue to struggle this season as they fight through growing pains and the expectations of winning. But the transformation starts now.
The Kings have the winning formula. All they need to do is tweak the ingredients just a bit. Adding a post presence who can provide scoring, defense, and rebounding will have them in mentions with some of the top teams. The future is bright in Sacramento.