The Kings have missed the playoffs in 15 straight seasons, and it’s going to be an uphill battle to qualify for the postseason again with stiff competition throughout the Western Conference. For the first time in a years, though, it finally feels like Sacramento is starting to put the right pieces in place. De’Aaron Fox could make his first All-Star team this year, Tyrese Haliburton looks like the steal of last year’s draft, and this year’s rookie lottery pick Davion Mitchell will add tenacious on-ball defense. Add in a solid big like the recently re-signed Richaun Holmes and it’s clear the Kings are building *something* even if they’re still lacking a top star.
The best-case scenario for Sacramento involves them ending their 15-year playoff drought, probably by way of the play-in tournament. We see De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton continue to bloom their budding backcourt chemistry, and both players are able to accomplish career years with a defensive identity to build and, on some nights, lean on.
The worst-case scenario is, frankly, more of the same: the Kings fall into their cycle of mediocrity and miss out on the playoffs/play-in for a record breaking 16 years in a row. Easy, winnable games are missed out on due to a lack of structure and ability to finish as a whole. No matter how the Kings start, it’s important for them to remain competitive and not finish 12th for the 100th season in a row. Old habits die hard, but making no progress is an inexcusable option with the amount of talent on this roster.
In all likelihood, the Kings will build from their strong foundation of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Davion Mitchell, Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes, and we’ll see some nice contributions from the veteran bench. Will the Kings lose games? Inevitably. Are they title contenders? No. But what they do with the tougher stretches of the season will help the Kings build toward something meaningful on the court, starting with Fox, who’s due for an All-Star appearance.
For the first time in a long time, I’m excited for the Kings to be playing for something. There are real expectations for this squad, specifically for Luke Walton and De’Aaron Fox, and the baseline expectation is for them to bring competitive basketball back to Sacramento. I’m also intrigued by the diversity of talent on the roster. Can Tyrese Haliburton continue to develop? Will there be a resurgence of a defensive identity because of Davion Mitchell and the cast of centers? There’s lots of questions that need to be answered, and a lot to look forward to as a Kings fan.