Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors looks up near Marvin Bagley #35 of the Sacramento Kingsduring the Toronto Raptors vs Sacramento Kings NBA regular season game at Scotiabank Arena on January 22, 2018 in Toronto, Canada (Toronto Raptors win 120-105) (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings are the Team of the Future

One of the biggest surprises so far this season is the success of the Sacramento Kings. Currently sitting in 9th place in the Western Conference with a record of 28-25, the Kings have shown a tremendous amount of improvement since last season.

In the 2017-18 season, the Kings finished 12th in the West with a record of 27-55. The biggest problem the Kings faced was their offense, specifically their ability to score the ball. Because of this, Sacramento finished dead last in points per game, scoring only 98.8 points. Their defense was average, as they finished in 14th place in opponents points per game, giving up an average of 105.8 points.

So far this year, the Kings have flipped the switch. Sacramento focused heavily on improving their offense, and it showed. Currently, in 8th place for points per game, the Kings are putting up an average of 113.7 points. Their defense, however, has gotten worse. The Kings are allowing 114.8 points per game, which is the third worst in the NBA.

What changed since last season? Player development. With the average age of the Kings being only 25 years old, the team just needed time to gain experience. Their biggest area of improvement, scoring, comes from the development of young guard duo of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. Last season, Fox averaged only 11.6 points per game, whereas now he is contributing 17.5 points. Heild made even more of a jump, as last season he scored 13.5 points per game, and is now responsible for 20.4, making him the teams highest scorer.

Other players that have found a way to develop and contribute more are Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Last season, Cauley-Stein averaged 12.8 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. This year, Cauley-Stein has improved to averaging 13.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He was also able to bring his field goal percentage up from 50.2 percent to 54.1 percent. For Bogdanovic last year, he averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.9 rebound per game. This year, he has improved to averaging 14.9 points, 4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and a steal per game. While both Cauley-Stein and Bogdanovic’s improvements may not be talked about around the league, they are still definitely worth noticing.

Another noticeable improvement from the Kings is their pace. Last season, Sacramento had the slowest pace in the league of 94.9, while this season they dramatically moved up to claim the third best pace in the league of 103.3.

The Kings also made a splash in the NBA world when they drafted Marvin Bagley with the second overall pick in the 2018 draft. Coming in off the bench, Bagley instantly started to contribute. In 24.1 minutes per game, Bagley is currently averaging 13.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, a block, and an assist.

While the Kings may not be holding Larry O’Brien this June, they are still to be taken seriously. In just a year, the young roster was able to make a complete turnaround for the franchise. Player development will continue to play a factor for Sacramento, which could make them one of the best teams in the league in just a few short years. The Kings should continue to focus on developing their young core, as well as possibly trying to trade for or sign for a big name player, especially with the amount of talent become free agents this summer. Sacramento is poised for good things in the future and will be a force to be reckoned with.

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