It has been a long 13 years for those who proudly rep their purple apparel in Sacramento.
In 2006, the San Antonio Spurs eliminated the Kings in the first round of the NBA playoffs and gave those living in California’s capital their last glimpse of playoff basketball.
The Kings slowly fell into a descent and for those die-hard fans, the decline never seemed like it would end. Even when their beloved Kings appeared to hit rock bottom, the organization would prove them wrong and plummet even further.
Players with potential fizzled out and the team had trouble amounting to anything. There was an 8-year gap between 30 win seasons and to top it all off, ESPN crowned the Kings the worst North American sports franchise in 2013.
Seasons came and went. Sacramento waited 11 years before they had their first All-Star since Peja Stojakovic in DeMarcus Cousins during the 2014-2015 campaign. Even with All-Star talent, the team still could not flourish.
Then, the trade.
The organization finally realized that DeMarcus Cousins and his bad attitude were not a fit for a winning culture in Sacramento. The front office shipped their star center to New Orleans in 2017 as the Kings started anew once more.
The reigning Naismith College Player of the Year and 6th overall pick, Buddy Hield, headed to Sacramento to change the course the Kings had been following under Cousins. With that, a new way of basketball was born.
In the 2017 draft, the Kings snagged De’Aaron Fox along with Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Frank Mason. That same year, Bogdan Bogdanovic left Istanbul for Sacramento to make his imprint on NBA basketball.
Although the Kings won just 27 games with that youthful team in 2017-2018, the attitude and dynamic appeared as if they were on the way up.
The Kings struck gold and received the number 2 pick in 2018 and selected an athletic big man in Marvin Bagley. With the inexperienced core and fresh legs, the Kings were off and running, facing new challenges as a unit. With the plethora of young talent, Sacramento won 39 games last season, their most since 2006.
The Kings are on the climb. The addition of Harrison Barnes last trade deadline gives the team a formidable lineup able to match up with the best of rosters. Luke Walton is walking into the opportunity of his career as Divac handed him the keys to steer this budding, potential-filled team, in the right direction.
Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, and Marvin Bagley are a big three waiting to emerge and look ready to disrupt opposing defenses on the court. The Kings have provided support for their starting 5 by solidifying their bench this offseason with veteran additions in Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, and Cory Joseph.
Sacramento has the playoffs on their minds, but their journey won’t be easy. The team has enough talent to make a postseason bid, but Luke Walton’s squad will have to persevere towards success as it comes with the territory of being an inexperienced team.
With the right mix of veteran presence and young, dynamic stars in the making, this team has tremendous upside. It will be the most highly anticipated season for Kings fans in a long time with the question-begging, can Walton lead the Kings to their first postseason appearance since 2006 and put Sacramento out of its misery?