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20Q: Why stress about this season?

One more bad season wouldn't be the end of the world, not when the 2021 draft class is looming.

For the 15th season in a row, the Sacramento Kings aren't likely to be very good. But even knowing that, I struggle to enter the season truly pessimistic about the team.

The Kings performance in the Bubble four months ago - not to mention an insanely talented and deep Western Conference - likely puts a playoff birth as a near-unassailable hurdle. But does anyone truly expect the Kings to make the postseason? Monte McNair enters his first season with a ton of challenges and questions, but also with unset expectations. Vlade Divac's grand design netted a single proven franchise pillar in De'Aaron Fox, a ton of question marks, and the 12th pick for McNair to use on Tyrese Haliburton.

Meanwhile, nearly the rest of the West got supercharged; between title hopefuls (Lakers, Nuggets, Clippers), contenders (Mavericks, Jazz, Blazers), once-contenders with stars (Warriors, Rockets), and blossoming rebuilds (Phoenix, Memphis, Pelicans), there's little room for Sacramento's half-rebuild. The remaining three teams - the Spurs, Timberwolves, and Thunder - are all dice rolls like Sacramento, but each squad would have a strong case against the Kings on a nightly basis. The West is a bloody gauntlet to power through, even if the world wasn't upside down.

That said, the Kings only need the 10th seed to earn a spot in the sudden-death playoff birth. Even snagging that 10th spot would be a thrill for Sacramento, because earning a record better than five of those other West teams would mean the Kings went through a massive growth spurt on both ends - the best outcome for any rebuild. I think expecting this team to make the playoffs is a beautiful and overly-optimistic daydream - but lord knows, we all deserve playoff games in Sacramento.

But even if you agree with me that the Kings will finish in the bottom three in the conference, that's not a bad outcome for this season. McNair signaled a mini-rebuild when he let Bogdan Bogdanovic go and only signed minimum-contract vets (solid though some of them are). And if McNair trades off more of the veterans and the squad lands in the bottom of the league again... the 2021 NBA Draft class looks like it can jumpstart a failed rebuild.

Oklahoma State forward Cade Cunningham is amazing, a total-package future star who will undoubtedly be top of my 2021 Big Board. Gonzaga combo guard Jalen Suggs looks like an all-around offensive nightmare and dropped 24 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds against Kansas on opening night. USC center Evan Mobley is a two-way anchor flashing a deep shot. Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky) and Ziaire Williams (Stanford) are exceptionally promising scoring wings who are navigating rocky starts for their teams. With the G League schedule still up in the air, we're still waiting on potential top-5 picks in Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga to get on the court. And the list only gets deeper from there - Duke forward Jalen Johnson, Tennessee wing Keon Johnson,  Florida State forward Scottie Barnes, UNC big guard Caleb Love... the top end of the class looks crazy promising.

We'll have full coverage of the 2021 Draft over the next year, but as someone who thinks the best outcome for Sacramento is a harsher rebuild this season - trade the vets and play the youngsters - the 2021 class looks exactly as good as advertised. But even if the Kings end up flirting with the play-in tournament, finishing anywhere from pick 6 to pick 14 doesn't really end the Kings chances at getting a damn GOOD player.

There are certainly storylines and outcomes to worry about this season; can Marvin Bagley please stay healthy? The Kings don't really plan to start Hassan Whiteside, right? Will De'Aaron Fox prove he's really a max-level player? Can the NBA avoid the COVID mistakes of the NFL and MLB - and avoid making teams missing half their rosters play games? All worrying questions to be sure. But when it comes to the team's final record, I won't lose much sleep through either the wins or the losses in this crazy season. I'm just glad to have basketball to watch - and without true expectations, how can even a Kangz fan be disappointed?





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December 7, 2020 8:14 am

Is there any way Monte can get us 2 picks in the lottery in this year’s draft? I mean it’s freakin’ stacked!!!

December 7, 2020 8:29 am

It doesn’t even have to be in the lottery. Even late in the 1st you’re going to have a lot of guys that would have been considered in the top 10 in this draft. And 2022 could be just as good, and even better since it could be the “double draft” where HS Seniors are eligible again. I’ve been pushing the “stockpile 2021 & 2022 picks” strategy since before last season at this point. Someone like Presti, that controls a ton of picks, is literally going to pull off a full rebuild in essentially one season.

The problem is, I think everybody is on that train now and those picks are likely going to be much more difficult to come by.

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
December 7, 2020 8:35 am

Agreed, the only player on this roster that could get a 2021 or 2022 pick is FOX, IMO. The Kings might be wise to target recent draftees on their rookie deals when dealing their vets. Someone yesterday floated Buddy into Boston’s TPE for Aaron Nesmith. That might be the kind of move that looks to the future while ensures the Kings get a high lottery pick over the next two drafts.

December 7, 2020 9:23 am

Of course there is always a way. I assume one of the 2 picks is our own pick since we are going to suck this year. The second way to get a top 10 pick is you trade Fox.

Imagine we land the #1 pick and we draft Cade Cunningham. You trade Fox for a potential top 10 pick and land a (Evan Mobley, Kuminga, Barnes, Jalen Johnson, Ziaire Williams or even a Josh Christopher.

December 7, 2020 12:06 pm
Reply to  RAP87

I’ve actually been thinking this the last few days as well. I love Fox but if Haliburton has a solid year, I think I might be ok with this.

December 7, 2020 1:14 pm
Reply to  deepshot22

No one on this roster is untradeable.
Fox would fetch a massive haul. I don’t think Monte is looking to trade Fox but if a team like the Knicks offered the house, why not?

December 7, 2020 3:49 pm

I’d love to buy into the draft hype, but I haven’t been sold. The college guys I’ve seen that are projected lottery are pretty meh with a touch of upside. Haven’t seen Cunningham yet though.

Nostradumbass 14
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December 7, 2020 8:28 am

The thing stressing me out is the Kings trend of mediocrity. I’m tired of the dog paddling in hopes of a playoff birth, or in this case, simply the tenth seed. It would once again be the ultimate Kangz thing to do is end up with the 11th pick on a ten player draft.

I’m stressing that Walton is coaching for his job and will wind up winning empthy games against shit teams who recognize this draft class for what it is.

I’m stressing that Vivek, fearing playoff record drought embarrassment, will nudge McNair to make a short sided trade for a vet in hopes of making the 10th seed.

My hope is McNair sees the writing on the wall and makes some moves sooner than later that indicate CLEARLY to me that the end game is the 2021 draft and beyond. Those indications would be moving the core vet rotation of players like Barnes, Buddy, Holmes, Joseph, Nemanja for future assets, wins be damned. Roll out the young guys and see what you got.

December 7, 2020 8:40 am
Reply to  Adamsite

As I say below, I also don’t think the end game has to be acquiring likely lottery picks. There’s A LOT of talent in this draft. Guys like James Preston and Kessler Edwards are likely to be available in the late 1st/early-2nd, to say nothing of the more under-the-rader international players like Giddey, Prkacin, Begarin, Badji, Sylla, etc. So while the higher the pick the better, obviously, even late 1sts are worth chasing IMO. Which is more likely what we’d be able to get for the assets you mention, since, well, that’s closer to what they’re worth AND those players are likely more attractive/worthwhile to better teams.

December 7, 2020 9:13 am

It doesn’t HAVE to be, and there are examples of teams getting great value later in the draft. I believe you have beaten the Miami heat drum, and rightfully, in that regard.

However, the chances of getting top talent are still much better at the top of the draft and I’d rather not wait and find out if Monte is good at finding good players in the 12-18 range. I’d just prefer to get a top 5 pick and get one of the obvious top tier guys.

December 7, 2020 9:22 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Of course we’d prefer it. But rebuilds are built on a number of good decisions, including drafting well outside the top picks. And the next two drafts specifically offer unusual amounts of potential outside the top picks.

December 7, 2020 8:41 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Yeah, i would personally be disappointed if we somehow sneak into the play-offs as the lowest seed and see that as some sort of mission accomplished feat.

The top tier of players are somewhere around the first 5 or 6 picks. If we want to be a perennial contender, our best chances are to end up in range to pick on of those top 5 guys.

I hope and expect from Monte some changes by the trade deadline which will put the tank in high gear.

December 7, 2020 9:33 am
Reply to  RikSmits

I agree, unless the team really come together in the second half of the season and becomes a squad that could actually win a playoff series, there’s no point even in trying to get to the play-in game. It may be a stacked draft, but the closer your pick is to the top, the more options you’ve got, including trading down a bit to get an additional pick/asset.

December 7, 2020 11:38 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Your last paragraph is solid GOLD

December 7, 2020 8:35 am

Regarding your last line, being happy to watch games…

With my wife working from home and uploading video, she had to switch us to Comcast this year. So I’m stoked to finally be able to watch all the games without jumping through hoops. I’m ready, and once again set my expectations at 20 wins with the hope of being surprised.

New players and a new(ish) system makes me pretty pessimistic though. I’ll be happy if we don’t see players standing around the perimeter, watching.

December 7, 2020 9:05 am

Agreed. This is how I was feeling before the start of the 2017-2018 season. I know the team would suck but knowing the upcoming draft was deep with talent, I was okay with every loss and would cheer for the occasional wins.

Now that the season is just around the corner, I have this feeling once again of not being stressed out if the Kings totally suck this season cause I know what lies ahead (2021 draft) is stacked with talent.

I just hope once this season ends and when the lottery comes around and we end up picking either from 1-5, Monte and the FO does not F this up and actually choose the best player available whoever that may be. Still hoping we end up #1 and draft Cade but if we end up picking between 2-8, that would be fine as well (Green, Kuminga, Boston, Mobley, Williams, Barnes and Jalen Johnson are still available for us to pick).

December 7, 2020 9:08 am

This may be a broken record, but a successful season doesn’t and shouldn’t include wins this year. That isn’t feasible with this roster and the loaded West.

Instead, a successful should be where the Kings develop great team chemistry and develop young talent for the future. Where the Kings play hard and a great brand of basketball on a consistent basis every night. That might win a few more games than expected, especially with Covid protocols. That might even squeak into the play-in game. A good, consistent brand of basketball on both ends every night is what would make a successful season.

We’ve seen glimpses, Denver at Home and Clippers on the Road last season and some with Joerger…we just need to see more.

Good, consistent, hard-nose, tough basketball and young guys developing is a good recipe even if the wins don’t come right away.

December 7, 2020 9:18 am

I’m giving Monte this year to start getting the ship right. Lets see some bad contracts get traded, a healthy MBIII, lots of minutes for the young guys. I’m actually really excited for this season.

December 7, 2020 10:04 am

I see no especially useful reason to worry about tis season, or any other. It’s entertainment unless you’re being paid to worry about it. Thus, act accordingly.

December 7, 2020 10:08 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

This was pretty much my initial response as well. I never worry or stress about basketball. I enjoy watching and talking about it. If there comes a time when I don’t enjoy those things, I won’t do them.

But I also know that I’m not a “real fan(tm)” by many people’s standards.

December 7, 2020 10:29 am

I’m the same way – and debating/arguing about the path forward is part of the entertainment.

When it starts to get exasperating instead of entertaining, I’ll take some time off.

December 7, 2020 12:17 pm

I don’t even know what being a real fan means anymore BHE. I just do it my way, either you get it or you don’t.

With the both of you that if it stops being fun walk away. No team is worth raising your blood pressure over.

December 7, 2020 10:58 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Of course you’re right Nate. It is just a game and it’s been years, since the Maloof era when I still really cared, and as soon as they proposed moving (2011?) I’ve refused to get overly emotionally involved with the Kings or any other team I follow. I am amazed and pleased with the level of sanity your fandom has evolved to. Good to see bro.

December 8, 2020 7:15 am
Reply to  Bluejohn

That makes 2 of us John!

December 8, 2020 8:58 am
Reply to  Bluejohn

My fandom is certainly healthier than it was 10 years ago, for sure!

December 7, 2020 10:09 am

The only interest I have in this season is following this site and the fantasy league. All I feel is anxiety and dread for the actual games given the pandemic. Just like the post Thanksgiving surge we’re in that was entirely avoidable, the approaching basketball season feels like a horror movie in slow motion.

December 7, 2020 10:19 am

The entire pandemic has been a test in delayed gratification. And we (as in humans, though we Americans specifically are dragging down the curve) just keep failing over and over again.

It been hard enough listening to people who are complaining about restrictions also being unwilling to do the simple things we need to do to get past the need for restrictions. Now, I’m starting to hear some of those same people say they won’t get the vaccine.

Last edited 5 months ago by BestHyperboleEver
Nostradumbass 18
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
December 7, 2020 10:26 am

Yeah, I’ve been pretty cut off following sports in general (even things Kings-related) because of the things going on this year related to the pandemic, not to mention I’m in the middle of job searching again.

December 7, 2020 10:16 am

I miss going to games. Especially to watch the team a few years back. That team was fun to watch and had a chance to win on any given night. I know this years going to be rough, but I’m hoping we play with pace and get a little bit of that feeling back.

December 7, 2020 10:21 am

My biggest stressor is not the upcoming season, but what happens after the season in the upcoming draft. Will the Kings repeat their 2018 mistake by passing on the “best player” available (Luka) and draft according to positional needs (Bagley). I just cringe thinking that a franchise changing opportunity may fall into our laps again, but the Kings (who are their own worst enemy) will end up making the wrong decision again. I guess I just have to keep my fingers crossed in the hopes that McNair is not Vlade 2.0

December 7, 2020 10:24 am
Reply to  Gojira2021

Sadly, Doncic was BOTH the best player available AND the best fit at the position of most need.

Regardless, Vlade isn’t around and Monte already went with a non-Vlade style pick in Haliburton. So I’m hopeful that same mistake won’t happen again. We obviously may not make the perfect pick, but I feel okay that the rationale will be more reasonable.

December 7, 2020 10:47 am

“Non-Vlade style pick”
Does that mean “a person with legitimate basketball skill who is arguably better at basketball than the other available persons”?

December 7, 2020 10:42 am

At this point I’m fine with letting the chips fall where they may. The front office did not overspend or invest in empty calorie wins during free agency, and they cleared the way for their 1st round pick to get on the floor. If Fox and Bagley both take an exponential step forward while Hield returns to form, Haliburton impresses and guys like Whiteside, Holmes, Bjelica, Robinson, etc. play way beyond their contract value, great. I just hope that the front office has the acumen to take advantage of that value at the trade deadline and not get sucked into chasing a play-in opportunity.

December 7, 2020 10:52 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I’m just happy McNair didn’t spend $50 million on cash-grabbing veterans whose “best” days are behind them. The “Deluxe Vlade” move.

For future reference:
The Essential Vlade: Drafting an objectively inferior prospect because you “have a hunch”
The Plus Vlade: Making a trade that is objectively unbalanced to your detriment, perhaps obscenely so, because you “don’t do analytics”
The Deluxe Vlade: Overpaying a declining veteran to “mentor the kids” (who are 26+)
The Full Vlade: All of the above + firing a good coach and hiring a bad one because a good team fired them 24 hours ago.


Last edited 5 months ago by AmateurNerd
December 7, 2020 1:03 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

LOL this comment, man Vlade sucked so bad, thanks for summarizing it perfectly.

December 7, 2020 1:19 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

In VD’s defense, Walton was the coach of a terrible team, and therefore, unable to resist.

December 7, 2020 4:24 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

You make Vlade seem like a nightmarish value meal menu!comment image

December 7, 2020 12:24 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I don’t think the Kings are getting much at the deadline for these guys, but I’m with you otherwise. If you are talking a 2nd round pick here or there, I’m fine with that.

But most teams don’t have to give up much for these types of players, they aren’t worth much. But it’s better than nothing I suppose OTOH.

December 7, 2020 1:41 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Agreed. Not thinking gold – maybe bronze at best.

December 7, 2020 2:43 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I’m not expecting a major move this deadline. I’d be shocked if Barnes or Hield were moved before next offseason and perhaps not then. It might take two years to move either guy for something worth trading for.

The only guy I’m expecting to see moved is Whiteside for a 50’ish range pick more or less. I have low expectations about moves, obviously.

December 7, 2020 3:56 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I will be equally surprised if Hield or Barnes are moved during the year.

December 7, 2020 4:27 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Depends on Buddy really, I think Barnes could be kept as a franchise veteran.

December 7, 2020 11:03 am

I’m forever the optimist and want the team to win as many games as possible. The future is now and the draft will shake itself out when the time comes. With Alvin Gentry sitting next to Walton and his reputation for playing up tempo basketball this team may be better than we think.

December 7, 2020 11:11 am

My hope for this season:

No major injuries
Top 3 pick in the draft
Whiteside flipped at the deadline for draft capital
Improvement from all the young players

Give me those things, and I’ll be happy/excited for the future.

December 7, 2020 11:17 am

The only things giving me stress are the Buddy/Bagley situations. If Bagley commits to playing a winning style of basketball, and they get fair value for Buddy, then I’m good. If Bagley doesn’t show any growth, and Buddy pouts his way through the season, then then I will be mildly stressed/annoyed.

December 7, 2020 12:46 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Okay Fake Bratz, it’s already been decided that stressing out over the Kings is dumb. Get with the program man!

December 7, 2020 6:57 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

My stress level only ever reaches “slightly annoyed” levels though so it’s a healthy stress.

December 7, 2020 7:40 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

That’s too much stress. But I’m lazy so there’s that.

December 7, 2020 11:25 am

I’ll be rooting for a few things this season:

-Bagley, Fox and Haliburton’s development and chemistry together
-One of the vets traded for draft assets/promising young players
-A high 2021 draft pick
-A sense of organizational stability and agreement on direction (i.e: No Vivek meddling)

Throw in a new coach in the offseason and I would be ecstatic.

December 7, 2020 1:28 pm
Reply to  Tunel_21

Perfect summary.

December 7, 2020 2:30 pm
Reply to  Tunel_21

(Do we have a new term for this here? I don’t see it used much anymore…)

December 8, 2020 12:18 am
Reply to  Sacto_J

Green Thumbed




Last edited 5 months ago by ArcoThunder
December 7, 2020 12:47 pm

At this point, I’d consider not tanking to be irresponsible.

Trade the vets, clear the cap space, get assets, fire Walton at some point during or immediately after the season. That’s a successful season in my book.

However, I know the west is stacked, but if the Kings play with pace they have the ability to surprise people on any given night. Especially if Fox takes another leap, Haliburton is as advertised, Holmes adds an outside shot and Bagley stays healthy.

That’s a lot of “ifs”, I get it. But, given our luck, I could see this being the year the Kings step up and win more than I want them to.

Luckily we still have the worst coach in the league.

December 7, 2020 11:14 pm
Reply to  PhutureKings

“Tanking” is really nothing more than letting the young vets and rookies play a lot of minutes. Of course if your young vets and rookies are all call ups from the G league that’s
obviously a decision to not compete, not putting your young players in position to play and grow and only fielding a supposedly “NBA” team for the purpose of being the worst team possible for the purpose of acquiring high draft picks.

I’m going to be thrilled if our young vets and rooks get a ton of minutes to improve their game and to compete at the highest level they are capable of. If that results in a bunch of losses so much the better.

December 7, 2020 12:54 pm

I agree, just chill and enjoy. Glad to have NBA back, I want a top 5 pick next year though more than a shot at playoffs.

December 7, 2020 1:16 pm

It’s sports, nothing to be stressed about. It’s a bunch of dudes putting a ball in a hoop.

December 7, 2020 4:29 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Or in our case the other dudes putting a ball in a hoop!

December 7, 2020 1:47 pm

…how can even a Kangz fan be disappointed?

December 7, 2020 1:47 pm

Thread Jack: Carmichael was talking on Sat night abt something interesting happening on Kings Twitter. I went over and couldn’t find anything…anyone know what he was talking about?

December 7, 2020 3:00 pm
Reply to  Gregoryl

I was doing a 297-part soliliquoy comparing and contrasting the relative virtues of Brian Cardinal and Josh McRoberts, and which one would have been more likely to put the Kings over the top in the 2001-2002 season.

@ThreadApp refused to unroll it, citing, “No one gives a shit.”

December 7, 2020 2:57 pm

Jabari’s just out here vibin’

December 7, 2020 3:50 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

“Extremely wealthy man declares that opportunity to become wealthier does not drive him. Will earn $6.5 million dollars next year.”

December 7, 2020 4:01 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Eh, it’s a reasonable statement. If he wanted to stay in the NBA for another year, exercising that option was the only 100% way to make it happen. If he wanted more and longer-term money, he’d probably get that in Europe or China.

December 7, 2020 4:06 pm

My point is, that’s a very easy thing for him to say and mean it. It’s not meant as a criticism.

December 7, 2020 3:28 pm

Why am I stressed about this season? Because as a Kings fan I must always be stressed about the season. At this point it’s a necessary part about the fandom.

December 7, 2020 8:57 pm

My hopes for the season would be Haliburton as ROY and Fox making All-Star. Bagley stays healthy and becomes a 16-10 or better player on a consistent basis. Chemistry amongst the young guys. A few signature wins. Just missing the playoffs but jumping into top three in the draft. Let Luke finish the season. In not a .500 team replace him with the next Popovich.

December 8, 2020 8:13 am
Reply to  Mike120

16/10 + a positive net rating and AST/TOV > 1

December 7, 2020 11:43 pm

Building though the draft that’s the way to do it. Look at the Lakers. High pick after high pick. And this year they win the championship.

December 10, 2020 7:08 am
Reply to  alec26

Unless you get key free agents to add, the draft takes too long if ever too winning a title ! See Lakers !

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