With talks of a potential World War III, a pandemic of massive proportion accompanied by a toilet paper shortage and a global halt, and the emergence of murder hornets, this year has not been kind to many. In fact, it has been particularly unkind to the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings were supposed to be different coming into the season. After finishing off the previous year sniffing the playoffs with their best record in over a decade, the Kings were on track to make a jump from just smelling the postseason to actually cooking in it.
Divac prefaced the season with interesting moves, firing Head Coach Dave Joerger in favor of Luke Walton and signing veteran free agents like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon.
The season started on a low-note as the Kings lost both the season opener to the Suns by 29 and their second year big man, Marvin Bagley, to a broken thumb that kept him sidelined for close to six weeks.
Sacramento finally ended up winning a game in their sixth matchup. Yet, after seemingly getting back on track by winning three of their next four, De’Aaron Fox sprained his ankle, keeping him out for 17 games.
It did not take long for Dewayne Dedmon, who was supposed to be a perfect fit next to Bagley in the front court, to be moved to the bench for poor play, which in turn resulted in his request to be traded from Sacramento. As luck would have it, Trevor Ariza, the other big acquisition of the offseason, proved that he is not the reliable player he once was.
Although the Kings fought to go 9-8 without Fox, his return saw a Kings team sitting with a 12-14 record while only sinking further from playoff contention.
Even with Fox back, the Kings lost 8 straight as well as losing 15 out of their next 18.
Marvin Bagley returned for some time during this poor streak before ultimately succumbing to a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since the January 20 loss to the Miami Heat.
Bagley’s absence didn’t affect the team much anyways. Although he was scoring over 14 points and grabbing 7.5 boards a game when he was healthy, Sacramento went a mere 2-11 when he was on the court while they had to sit and watch stars they passed on in Bagley’s draft, like Luka Doncic and Trae Young, start in the All-Star Game.
Then Buddy Hield, who struggled during the season despite his big raise in the offseason, got moved to the bench in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Surprisingly, the Kings took off.
Having recently replaced Ariza with Kent Bazemore and with the new look starting lineup, the Kings began to succeed.
They made another trade during this span, dumping Dedmon for Alex Len and Jabari Parker. Len joined Bazemore as an instant fan favorite for his hustle and great defense.
Harry Giles also emerged from his shell during this time which proved bitter-sweet. Of course his play was good for the team at the moment, but it also haunts the front office that had declined his option back on Halloween.
With Buddy on the bench, the Kings slowly climbed their way back into playoff contention. After winning 13 out of their last 20 games and coming within 3.5 of the 8th seed Memphis Grizzlies, the Kings prepared for their only nationally televised game of the season. Their opponent: the New Orleans Pelicans, who were also 3.5 games out of the 8th seed.
Just before tipoff, however, fears of the coronavirus set in across the league following some positive COVID-19 tests, and the league suspended the season indefinitely.
It has been a roller coaster year as an inhabitant of Earth, especially if you’re a Kings fan. Although the season didn’t turn out how most had thought, the Kings put in a late push showing that they had indeed figured out the answer to their problems.
Though we will never know how the Kings would have ended their year, their late season surge puts a glimmer of hope in what’s to come for Sacramento.