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30Q: How will fan expectations shift?

How will our expectations shift after one of the most magical seasons in franchise history?
By | 28 Comments | Sep 14, 2023

Apr 15, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Fans walk outside the Golden 1 Center after the Sacramento Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors during game one of the 2023 NBA playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was truly an incredible experience for Sacramento Kings fans. After such a brutally long drought filled with disappointment, the Kings not only the drought but earned the 3 seed in the Western Conference. The Kings had one of the most magical seasons in franchise history, winning games with a fun style of play and lovable cast of characters. It was everything we dream of as sports fans.

So how does this upcoming season possibly live up to that? The element of surprise is gone, replaced instead by the burden of expectations. After years of having the rug pulled out from under me, I remain eternally cautious about expecting good things about the Kings. And yet I expect them to make the playoffs again. It terrifies me.

But beyond the fan backlash if the Kings somehow fell back to their old ways, how will fans react if the Kings are simply the same? We all know that growth isn’t linear, and yet it’s only natural to want the team to show continual improvement. What if the Kings win around 48 games again, and still make the playoffs (maybe with a lower seed in a tougher Western Conference), and have another first round exit? How long before we stop appreciating this level of success.

We saw some of this begin to surface even last year, when suddenly a handful of folks declared that simply making the playoffs wasn’t enough and that a first round exit would be a failure. The first round series with the Warriors was a disappointing outcome, don’t get me wrong. I truly believed the Kings could have won that series, and it hurt that they lost, but I was still able to view the season as a whole as an enormous success. But would that be the common sentiment if the Kings faced another first round exit?

Personally, I know my expectations have already shifted, but not so dramatically that I won’t be able to appreciate the journey. I want to see the Kings demonstrate improvement. I want to see the Kings go deeper into the playoffs. But I refuse to so quickly forget where we came from. Winning games is fun. The Playoffs are fun. I hope the honeymoon phase for fans can last at least one more season and we can simply enjoy the ride, no matter where it takes us.

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Klam
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September 14, 2023 8:39 am

It’s crazy because before the start of last season, I fully expected more of the same because I had been fooled too many times in the past about the team “turning the corner.” At best, I expected them to be maybe around 40 wins and competing for a play-in spot, but even I thought that was too high a bar considering the team’s history.

But man, the team completely shot past my wildest expectations. It got to a point that if the wheels came off the cart at some point, I would’ve been extremely disappointed if they only made it to a play-in spot. It wasn’t just the fact that the team was good; it truly was the first time since the first year of the playoff drought that I have liked everyone from players, coaches, and front office (I think even Vivek actually stayed out of the spotlight for once). No off court drama, no locker room infighting, no one complaining about playing time…just a completely drama-free season with a group of guys that wanted to go out and compete, and a coach that the players would run into a wall for. I heard one part of the De’Aaron Fox interview with Deuce and Mo that Mike Brown was the first coach to really hold the guys accountable and push them to perform at their best (he mentioned how Joerger would sometimes yell but not go far enough, and Luke Walton was just completely laid back).

For me, I would say that if the Kings make it to the postseason and have another first round exit, I would be disappointed, but it would also depend on how far they went. If they had another 7 game series, I guess I wouldn’t feel as bad as a 4 game sweep; after all, it took the 1999 and 2000 Kings two seasons of close first round exits before they finally broke out of it, and even then it took them another year before reaching the WCF. However, if running it back with the main core roster leads to that result, then Monte would probably need to think about making some kind of changes to take the team to the next level.

Last edited 8 months ago by Klam
murraytant
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September 14, 2023 2:23 pm
Reply to  Klam

I had sneaky hopeful expectations last year, even with the 0-4 start. Once they turned the corner, relatively early on, I was more confident and after ASG confident in top 4 seed. I have higher expectations this year- West is tough but so are the Kings. Expect top 4 seed in West. Anything below 5 will be a disappointment.
Just got back from Vegas where I put 600 bucks on Kings over 44.5

duds are entertaining work outs to fill out roster: Toscano Anderson, Bazemore, Dedmon. Times have changed as Kings go into training camp pretty well set .

Monte is like a mongoose- just sits and waits and then springs strongly into action. Line up some center prosects but then JaVale is available—pounce!

That’s the open roster slot- somebody will drop a player or some player will be in log jam situation and team willing to let him go v for not much. There must be a big black board somewhere in the mongoose’s office.

Kosta
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September 14, 2023 11:39 pm
Reply to  Klam

Fan expectations may shift, but

no one will expect the Yeti.

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Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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September 14, 2023 8:54 am

Just remember our expectations at pre-trade 2021/22.
Remember “We’re gettin 40 wins this year!”

I’m excited but It’s too soon after those times for me to forget where we came from. League is on notice about us now. I expect a difficult road and I hope our boys crush it. We got some more pieces (Sasha, Javale, Duarte) and Keegan Murray is entering his Super Saiyan arc. I’m so damn excited but my expectations remain at 8th seed or higher. No more drought.

HongKongKingsFan
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September 14, 2023 9:16 am

My expectation:

Win the NBA Championship this year…
and light the purple beam to the Universe !!!!!!!!

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Jman1949
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September 14, 2023 9:55 am

And if we don’t…

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andy_sims
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September 14, 2023 10:15 am

The dynamic will be interesting. The consensus has been that the team is being run very well by smart people in the offices, and down on the hardwood. I’m not much for going along to get along, but there aren’t a lot of holes in that assertion.

But life is funny sometimes, and even great plans can be derailed by things both predicted an unpredicted. The Kings were much healthier than the average team last season, particularly among the starters. There’s no reason to assume that it can’t happen again, but it may not. Injuries could change the trajectory and expectations, moreso if it’s Fox or Sabonis. The Kings have solid depth, but you don’t often find guys who can pick up all of the slack that an all-NBA guy can carry.

So, I’m guardedly hopeful, which is honestly about as hopeful as I’m able to be, about basketball or anything else. The beauty of being a pessimist is that you get to combine being right with always being disappointed. I’m never happier than when I’m wrong. It’s a sick philosophy, admittedly. I prefer the term “realist,” but candidly, I don’t see any actual difference.

The point, assuming that I have one, is that there is a ton to be excited about this season, and even if things crater, you aren’t wrong to feel that way at this moment. There are infinite variables that could cause Sacramento’s win total to be anywhere between thirty-three and sixty, and most of them are entirely out of anyone’s control.

It’s a great time to be a Kings fan, and even if you’re a pessimist realist, you should enjoy this if you can. We started 0-4 last season, and this place was Chicken Little Central. The plan is in place, and by all measures, it’s a good one. How often have you been able to say that in September?

Let’s go Kings!

Kosta
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September 14, 2023 11:49 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I’m holding on to this receipt, Andy:

…Sacramento’s win total to be anywhere between thirty-three and sixty…

andy_sims
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September 15, 2023 7:14 am
Reply to  Kosta

The receipt is made out of first-rate lycra spandex.

AmateurNerd
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September 14, 2023 11:20 am

In ’99 the team shocked everybody and made the playoffs as the 6th seed, where they pushed the Jazz to OT in the deciding game. In 2000 they got in as the 8th seed and got blown out in the deciding game by the Lakers. So on paper, they took a half-step back from ’99. But then they made the 2nd round in 2001 before going to the WCF in 2002. So even in the “glory days,” the progression was not entirely linear. I’m expecting 45-49 wins and another first-round exit this year. The team may be better, but the West is also better. They could end up in the play-in tourney despite improving. This is still the honeymoon phase, and we should appreciate it as such! Now, watch me melt down when they start off 2-4.

RobHessing
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September 14, 2023 11:29 am

50+ wins, 2nd round of the playoffs!
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I have great expectorations.

Kosta
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September 14, 2023 11:50 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Last year was this incarnation of the team’s first round…this year will be their second round of playoffs.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 14, 2023 11:43 am

I fully expect them to be a playoff team again. On paper they are better than last season. There is no locker room drama or problem egos. Off the court they are all upstanding citizens. No only are they good players, they are all of high character.

The only thing that may derail the team are injuries, but I could never hold that against the franchise as the team is constructed. Shit happens and it’s no one’s fault.

That beings said, in the deepest corners of my mind I can fathom where things go to hell in a hand basket. It’s happened before and it can happen again, I suppose. I look at last season’s Chicago Bulls and wonder what went wrong. On paper that team should be a top 5 seed, but they struggled to gel, going from 46 wins down to 40 wins and losing in the play-in. I don’t envision that happening with the Kings, but stranger things have happened.

Maximus
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September 14, 2023 1:54 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

The 46-win Bulls were abnormally good in the clutch. Their net rating were -0.5 which would be similar a 40-win team. So the 46-win were really the outlier.

And of course the Lonzo Ball injury leaves them without a lead PG last season.

aplumley
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September 14, 2023 12:08 pm

Young team that made the playoffs stayed intact. Some upgrades around the fringes were made, on paper at least. It should be expected that, barring some bad luck, the team is better this year because of player development, experience, and a few additions.
That being said, there are a lot of dynamics. So I expect the unexpected. They are as likely to win 30 games as they are to win 60 imo.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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September 14, 2023 2:40 pm

I expect to see a competitive, likable team entertain and excite me for a full season and into the post season.

As Rob Hessing touts – casa dinero, maison moolah – house money.

Yes – I will be disappointed if Sac doesn’t get at least 4 playoff wins. But I don’t expect it.

The regular season victories are there to hone the field to the best teams. The best teams the. compete for the glory the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The 43 win Lakers and the 44 win Heat made it to the Conference finals and the NBA Finals, respectively.

Win more playoff games- go from playoff hopeful to playoff contender to championship contender.

The Kings will need to establish themselves this season as solid playoff contenders this season.

Kosta
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September 14, 2023 11:47 pm

The 43 win Lakers and the 44 win Heat made it to the Conference finals and the NBA Finals, respectively.

If I may, sir:

The 43 win L*kers ……. made it to the Conference finals ….. disrespectfully.

Last edited 8 months ago by Kosta
UpgradedToQuestionable
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September 15, 2023 10:00 am
Reply to  Kosta

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I am so ashamed

Sacto_J
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September 14, 2023 4:30 pm

The spectrum of fan expectations for this team are so weird, and complicated by the fact that much of the feedback out there is from fans who liked a different team before The Beam was lit.
I think with exceptional talent comes exceptional expectations, and it should. I had us winning 45 before the season started based off the talent level of the team alone. If that squad couldn’t raise the win count to a respectable number I wasn’t sure what you’d have needed to field a decent team in the NBA anymore these days. But they did, because they’re a talented bunch and were constructed with balance.
Moving forward they have to show they learned from last year’s mistakes and have the tools to deal with specific adversities and shortcomings that were exposed in the playoffs. Otherwise the expectations will take a slight dip. And should until they add the right ingredient / player to fix the problem.
My floor is 45 wins. I think they can take the Pacific again if they evolve and get better in a couple of key areas. This season is going to be interesting, a real barometer for what this team’s potential is over the next 3 years.

Mike120
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September 14, 2023 7:05 pm

I’m with Rob H. 50 Wins and making it to the second round are my expectations. They have more overall talent than last year. We started off 0-4 and finished poorly too. I don’t see that happening again.

BeTheBall
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September 14, 2023 9:34 pm

50 wins or better & a repeat of home court in the playoffs. Except this time we move on to the next round.

BuffaloDiaspora
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September 14, 2023 11:32 pm

Yarp – I’m expecting 50 wins unless the end of the season plays out like last year (they would have made 50 wins if it would have meaningfully affected seeding). I think 60 wins should be the stretch goal – this team can score like they’re in a brothel on nickel night, they just need to find their reasonably average road defense at home.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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September 14, 2023 11:58 pm

I think parity is going to continue to pare down the win totals for all teams, particularly the Western Conference.

Sacramento plays in the Pacific Division where last season all 5 teams made the playoffs and 4 out of the 5 improved heading into the upcoming season, IMO, with Clippers possibly improving due to both better overall health and the just passed rule on load management sitting two All-Stars for televised games (22 games).

The regular season win total is relevant for top six seeding. We will judge team improvements by playoff advancement.

Last edited 8 months ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
RikSmits
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September 15, 2023 4:37 am

Shana Tova to all my brethren and sistren.

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Kfan
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September 15, 2023 5:12 am

I think the team will be better this year. I think they learned the message about defense firsthand.

I expect improved D and an improved Sabonis.

This will lead to more blowout wins as we play D for more than just the 4th Q.

I’m looking foreward to the journey and would love a playoff rematch with the other Nor Cal team and hope for an early Curry on his ass screen to anounce our arrival.

rockbottom
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September 15, 2023 7:08 am
Reply to  Kfan

Firmly believe Sabonis will be better in the playoffs but no chance on improving regular season stats . He was almost Jokic level .

Bluejohn
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September 15, 2023 12:48 pm

I had us down for 35 wins last season primarily because I thought it would take a season for all the disparate parts to come together.

I have been an avid Kings fan since they moved to Sac. Last season was the most enjoyable season that I’ve had as a fan of this crazy team. One of the reasons was that I got to enjoy it with my son in Portland. We were constantly either talking or texting about the team during games and on off days.

I don’t believe last year was a fluke, I accept that they are a much better team and should be in the playoff mix all season. I have no idea how many games they will win and if they will be seeded 6th or better or make it thru the play ins. I totally understand Greg’s comment as well. I too feel terrified at times as I consider this upcoming season. What if it was all a dream.

I started wearing my King’s caps mid August switching from my Panama style pork pie hat. I’m all in on the Kings this season but I worry that maybe I want it too much.

Marty
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September 16, 2023 4:50 pm

Grant and Boogie were destroyed so I’m still in the honeymoon period, everything still feels fun as hell.

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