The Kings X Factor For 2021-22 NBA Season, And It’s Not De’Aaron Fox
The Sacramento Kings are coming off an exciting summer where they added another intriguing talent in Davion Mitchell. As a whole, this team has a lot of impactful players who will play a key part in their rebuild, with De’Aaron Fox leading the way..for now. The former Kentucky standout enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020/21, averaging 25.2 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. He’s undoubtedly the future of the Kings franchise, but there’s one specific player who will prove to be their X-factor this season. Sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Kings’ X-Factor: Tyrese Haliburton
Haliburton was selected 12th overall out of Iowa State in the 2020 draft and quickly made his presence felt in a Kings uniform. He was one of the best rookies in the Association and just missed out on winning ROTY to LaMelo Ball. While he only started 20 of 58 games, Haliburton was absolutely outstanding. He averaged 13 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists for the Kings and proved to be a versatile offensive threat who could score the rock and facilitate at a high level. Haliburton was also lights out from three-point range, draining 41% of his attempts. He did spend some time alongside Fox in the Sacramento backcourt and that proved to be a scary sight given both of their abilities.
With Mitchell also vying for minutes, it should elevate the level of Haliburton’s play. There are a plethora of options at the two guard spots with Buddy Hield in the mix as well, but Haliburton will certainly play an important part again. He packed on 10 pounds of muscle this offseason which could help the former Iowa State standout be more of a finisher at the hoop.
The Kings are even planning to implement a three-guard lineup that will have Haliburton, Mitchell, and Fox all on the floor. Haliburton, like mentioned above, didn’t start a lot last season. With increased minutes, there are going to be higher expectations for the youngster after a terrific first year in the league. While he has proven to be a solid passer and scorer from long-range, Haliburton needs to improve with his inside game and the hope is that all the weight he added onto his frame will help. Given his ability to play either guard spot, the 21-year-old should have a big impact. Defensively, he will have to be better as well because the Kings were one of the worst teams in the league in this category. Offense is one thing, but being able to limit your opponent on the other end is equally important.
To be honest, Haliburton and Mitchell likely profile to be the starting backcourt of the future. Haliburton and Fox were considered untouchable by the Kings this offseason when the Sixers approached them about a possible Ben Simmons trade, which totally makes sense. I see the possibility of Fox moving on in the distant future possibly, but Haliburton is going to be a staple on this roster. There’s always the chance of a sophomore slump, but I don’t believe that’s going to happen for Haliburton.
Another impressive season is a must for him if the Kings are going to find their way out of the gutter in the Western Conference. They may not be a playoff team quite yet, but the growth of Tyrese Haliburton is definitely their X-factor.