We are a little more than halfway through the NBA season. Thus far there have been some underachievers along with a couple overachievers. The Sacramento Kings are one of the overachievers. The Westgate sportsbook set the over-under for the Kings at 25.5 games. With 24 wins to date, whoever bet the over is a happy camper. Let’s recap the first half of the season in this Sacramento Kings mid-season report.
Sacramento Kings Mid-Season Report
A Quick Look at the Kings Season
Through 48 games this season the Kings have a record of 24-24. They sit 2 games out of the eighth playoff spot in the western conference. With victories over the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and the Portland Trail Blazers the Kings are making believers out of many NBA fans. By comparison, it took 73 games for the Kings to win their 24th game last season.
The season started off slowly for the Kings losing three of their first four games. The schedule softened up for a bit and they reeled off five wins in a row to bring their record to six and three. Since then, their largest winning streak has only been three games. Their largest losing streak was four games. Win a couple, lose a couple and repeat seems to be the way the season is going. However, the improvement is evident to anyone who watches the Kings play and the ceiling has clearly not been reached.
The Development of De’Aaron Fox
In the 2017 draft, the Kings selected De’Aaron Fox with the fifth pick. Fox struggled as a rookie to make an impact on the court. The roster around him wasn’t beneficial either. Fox struggled to run the offense and did not shoot well from the field. This season Fox has control over the offense. He uses his tremendous speed to push the ball up the floor and create scoring opportunities. He is shooting the three at a much higher percentage than last year and he is passing the ball extremely well.
Fox has a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 18.6 and win share (WS) of 3.3. Those numbers put him in the same area as Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal. They also put him on top of Victor Oladipo and Klay Thompson. Fox’s name should be included in the MIP conversation.
Buddy Hield Has Found a Home
Fox’s backcourt partner, Buddy Hield, is having the best season of his young career. Averaging over twenty points a game and shooting the three at forty-five percent, Hield is the best scorer on this young team. He is fifth in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage and is making 3.4 treys a game. Hield’s shooting ability is a great complement to the speed of Fox. Together they can be one of the best backcourts in the NBA.
Bogdan Bogdanovic off the Bench
In 2016, the Kings traded number 8 pick Marquese Chriss to the Phoenix Suns for Bogdan Bogdanovic, the number 13 pick and the 28th pick. Bogdanovic turned out to be the best player from that trade. He is the key to the Kings bench unit. He can create his own shot and shoots the ball very well from downtown. Averaging over 15 points a game, Bogdanovic is the third scorer on the Kings after Hield and Fox.
What to Make of Willie Cauley-Stein
To get 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game from your starting center sounds pretty solid on paper but Cauley-Stein is inconsistent and not as much a force as he should be. The Kings are at the bottom three in the league in defensive rebounding percentage. They are also towards the bottom of the league in blocks per game. While that does not all fall on Cauley-Stein, a chunk of the blame does lie at his feet. He has the ability to be a better force inside and can help the team win some more games if he can get better in these areas.
What to Expect the Rest of the Season
While a playoff spot is not out of the question with the current roster construction, it is unlikely the Kings will make the playoffs. They need a little bit more on the interior and do not have a lot of pieces to make a trade. There were rumors the Kings have interest in Enes Kanter but a deal is far off.
New York and Sacramento discussing an Enes Kanter-Zach Randolph trade of expiring contracts, but nothing close yet, league sources tell ESPN. Kings would want to send out more expirings in a deal. A third team could be helpful.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 9, 2019
Kanter is an offensive force that can create havoc on the offensive glass. His defense leaves much to be desired. However, the Kings interior defense has not been to great as is. More important than the playoffs is the continuing development of Fox and Hield. Equally as important is getting Marvin Bagley playing time so he can work alongside Fox and Hield while improving his game. If Bagley can be what the Kings think he can be, they will have a very good young core and team.
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