The Sacramento Kings were one of the league’s most pleasant surprises last season. Entering 2019-20, there’s no guarantee they will build on that success by ending the longest postseason drought in the NBA. If the Kings are able to do it, though, they’ll have fast-tracked their development into a legitimate contender.
These three players are poised to break out for Sacramento this season.
3. Harry Giles III
Giles, unfortunately, could be a victim of the Kings’ shockingly active offseason. Bringing in Dewayne Dedmon, despite his relatively overpriced contract, made sense. Sacramento needed a solid two-way center after letting Willie Cauley-Stein walk in free agency, and has one in Dedmon, who became a legitimate 3-point threat over the last two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
Neither Giles nor Marvin Bagley III were ready to start at center anyway, but signing Richaun Holmes needlessly complicates the former’s role in the rotation. The Kings are still at a point in the timeline toward contention where they should prioritize player development over winning, especially on the margins of the rotation.
Giles, the former top-ranked recruit in his high school class before multiple knee surgeries, is an extremely gifted passer and an active, disruptive athlete with innate instincts. He must get stronger and is far from a finished product skill-wise, but nevertheless showed enough during his first extended NBA action last season to warrant a lasting place in the rotation.
Here’s hoping Luke Walton lets Giles play through his inevitable struggles, and here’s hoping his early knee soreness is nothing to worry about.
2. Marvin Bagley III
Sometimes the answer is the most obvious one.
Bagley’s impressive debut campaign was almost overlooked entirely on a national level due to Luka Doncic’s remarkably seamless acclimation to the NBA game, the mouth-watering potential of Jaren Jackson Jr., and the monster numbers put up by Deandre Ayton. But after a brief tenure with USA Basketball that included his promotion to the senior team before he withdrew from consideration for the FIBA World Cup, Bagley again seems on the path toward stardom.
Long term, the No. 2 overall pick of last year’s draft is probably still best suited as a center. But with a steadily improving jumper and perimeter ball skills, he’ll put up impressive numbers this season playing the 4, where he’ll have a length and athleticism advantage against most every opponent. There will be challenges for Bagley defensively, but even they come in the name of pains that will eventually yield major growth to his all-around impact on the game
1. De’Aaron Fox
Fox truly broke out last season, when he followed up a dispiriting rookie campaign by finishing third in Most Improved Player of the Year voting – an especially ringing endorsement of his play considering some voters refuse to consider sophomores for that award. But in 2019-20, the Kings point guard has the chance to be more than basketball’s next great point guard, instead inserting himself into that conversation right now.
No player in the league is faster with the ball in his hands than Fox. He made major strides as a pull-up 3-point shooter last season, and he quickly developed playmaking nuance in terms of pace and angles reserved for true floor generals. No one should be surprised if Fox makes good on that progress this season, keeping the Kings competitive in a stacked Western Conference playoff field with every breathtaking full-court sprint, acrobatic aerial finish, and dazzling pass.
Trae Young was anointed last season as the NBA’s best young point guard. If Fox continues improving at anywhere near the rate he did a year ago, though, he won’t only take that mantle from his Atlanta Hawks counterpart, but make a strong case for an All-Star berth at the age of 21.