Let’s take a trip back to the start of the 2016 NBA season. The Kings were stuck in turmoil, but had promising pieces like Willie-Cauley Stein (drafted 6th in 2015) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (Traded to Kings from the Suns in the previous offseason). They still had DeMarcus Cousins on the roster. However, trade rumors had been swirling for years, and the team’s future was looking uncertain.
Throughout the season, there was hope, but not enough to warrant keeping the team together. At the All-Star Break, the team was 24-33, and heading in the wrong direction. That is when the general manager, Vlade Divac, pulled the trigger on a trade that would shake up the whole league. The Kings agreed to send DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, and a first-round pick and second-round pick. At first, many thought the Kings lost the trade, and just took the first deal they wanted to get rid of an angry Cousins. However, people would learn within the next season who really won this trade.
For the remainder of the season, Hield rose his shooting percentages from 39% to 48%, a great improvement for a rookie. His points per game increased from 8.1 to around 15 PPG. That season was only a glimpse of what was to come. With a 32-50 record at the end of the year, the Kings were in Top-10 position for the draft.
Going into the summer of 2017, the Kings’ glaring need was a true point guard. Luckily for them, one was primed to fall to them at the 6th pick. His name was De’Aaron Fox. At his lone year in Knetucky, Fox averaged nearly 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists, along with 1.5 steals. He showed a great pace for the game, just the kind of leader this young team needed.
After drafting Fox, the Kings had a true core to build around. Fox didn’t have the greatest year, but Hield continued his rise, averaging almost 20 points a night, 5.5 rebounds, and 3 assists. His play, along with the contributions of the other young players, led the Kings to a worse record than the previous year, however. They finished 27-55, and were given the 2nd pick in the 2018 draft.
With that 2nd pick, the team felt they needed to pick up a player to fill out their young front court. They ended up selecting Marvin Bagley III. He averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds at Duke, and seemed like the perfect player to add to the young core in place.
Now, going into this season, the Kings weren’t really exciting anyone. That would soon change, though. The Kings went 16-13 through the first two months of the season, putting the league on notice. Fox has increased his stats from 11 to 17 points, increased his assists by 3 per game (4-7), and has pulled in one extra rebound per game. On top of that, Hield is averaging 23 points per game on efficient shooting, and Bagley has been overlooked, giving 13 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes a night. The team is sitting at the 9th seed in the loaded west going into the All Star Break. They are giving Kings fans a reason to hope again, after a long few years without a clear direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team sneaks into the 8th seed, and starts a dynasty that will last for a while. It’s time that we all keep an eye on these guys, now.