Yes Kings fans, it’s that time again: Divac-loathing-o’clock since there’s nothing else going on. There are two “passes” that our beloved player and pestilent GM Vlade Divac has made in his career, one as a Sacramento Kings center and one as an executive, and we will judge which one was worse overall.
Okay, I understand that this wasn’t a pass, but Vlade swatted the ball right into the hands of one of the most clutch players in NBA history, Robert Horry.
This moment as well as game 6 of this same series are arguably two of the worst moments in Sacramento Kings history, but in this instance, it wasn’t the refs who screwed the Kings over, it was Mr. Divac himself.
Yes, the game 4 loss cannot fully be credited to the center, but what would’ve happened if Divac didn’t swat the ball right to Horry and the Kings held onto the victory? Well first off, a win would have put the Kings up 3-1 against the Lakers with the series heading back to Sacramento to give the Kings the opportunity to close it out at home. Even if they didn’t win the game, which they did (we love you, Mike Bibby), they would have closed it out.
…Okay, I just have to show the shot:
But as I was saying, even if they lost at home in game 5, they would have still been up 3-2 in the series with 2 games left and another match in Sacramento if needed.
Needless to say, if the Kings won game 4, they’re winning that series and sorry 2002 New Jersey Nets, the Kings would have swept you in the Finals just like the Lakers did.
Divac’s “pass” arguably cost the Kings what would be their first and only ring in Sacramento.
This next pass is a little different because it’s not a pass made with a ball, it’s a pass on a player, or players as many Kings fans seem to forget.
In the 2018 NBA draft, instead of going for the consensus number two draft choice, the Kings decided to go against the grain (because that has always worked out for them) and drafted Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic.
But the Kings didn’t just skip on Luka, who was drafted with the next pick, they also skipped on another young, talented point guard who was actually traded for Doncic on draft night, Trae Young.
In Young’s and Doncic’s second years, they are both starting NBA All Stars who are putting up close to 30 points a game, while Bagley has played a mere 75 games. To clarify, not 75 games this season, but 75 games in his career!
Yes, Bagley still has immense talent (fingers crossed), but watching what Young and Doncic are accomplishing and considering they’re all around the same age, it’s hard not to point fingers at Divac and ask him, “what the $&@% were you thinking?”
We are all aware of this mistake and likely do not need a lingering analysis of it.
So there you have it, two terrible passes by Vlade Divac. But the agony doesn’t stop at recalling these poor decisions, now it’s time to figure out which one is worse.
Case A: Divac batting the ball to Horry just may as well cost the Kings an NBA championship.
Case B: Drafting Bagley instead of Doncic or Young gave the Kings an injury prone big man opposed to a young NBA All Star who could have led the Kings for years to come.
The Verdict: The swat to Horry, and here’s why. Yes, it cost the Kings an NBA championship and that is is the main reason, but that’s not all. When taking a closer look at drafting Bagley over Doncic or Young, I can almost understand where Divac’s thought process was.
Doncic and Young are point guards and need the ball in their hands to either score or make plays for others, something the two are both very talented at doing. But the Kings already had a man at the point guard position named De’Aaron Fox who still arguably has just as much potential as the other two.
Granted, Fox has not been named an All Star yet, but I suspect that he might have been an All Star and that the Kings would be sitting with a better record if he had not missed all that time with a sprained ankle.
If you bring in Doncic or Young, you’re basically saying good bye to Fox because they’re all ball dominant point guards. So instead of picking up one prospect to get rid of another, Vlade picked a big man to complement his backcourt.
So there you have it, two terrible moves in Kings history made by the same man who had no idea what chaos he was inflicting when he made them. Passing on Doncic was bad enough, but nothing really beats swatting the ball right into the hands of Big Shot Bob, arguably costing Sacramento it’s would-be ring.