This has been a season of ups and downs, to say the least. We’ve experienced incredible highs and some low lows. From one week to the next feelings could swing wildly about the state of the Sacramento Kings. With news of De’Aaron Fox’s ankle injury on Wednesday, I felt a familiar sinking feeling.
I remember the beginning of this season, when I had incredibly high hopes for the Kings. We were coming off a summer when De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley had wowed people at Team USA camp. Despite the fact that both ended up not participating, they both had impressed observers. Coming off a surprising 2018-19 campaign, I was optimistic about the Kings futures. But a gut-punch opening night loss to the Sun combined with Marvin Bagley’s injury quickly took the wind out of my sails.
I remember the early season when it seemed like all was lost. Dewayne Dedmon was a disaster, Trevor Ariza was pulling his Phoenix routine, De’Aaron Fox had joined Bagley on the injured list, and it seemed like the season was absolutely doomed. I felt worse about the Kings future than I had in years.
I remember when the Kings started putting things together. I remember my hesitation at buying in and believing. But the Kings started winning, and then kept winning. Before I knew it the Kings had won 7 of 10 and were heading into a critical game against the New Orleans Pelicans that would determine the legitimacy of their playoff hopes.
I remember when the season shut down in March. I was relieved that the league had finally done what they needed to, even if it was likely later than it should have happened. But while I knew it was the right thing to do, the Kings fan in me lamented the loss of momentum. The Kings had all the momentum in the world. They weren’t all definitive wins, but close wins still count. If the season resumed, I worried how it could hurt the Kings.
I remember when they announced that the season would resume. It did (and still does) seem like a bad idea in the grand scheme of things. But as a basketball junkie (and as someone who had just been part of launching a new Kings website) I was happy that there might be a return to basketball and that the Kings would have a chance to earn a playoff spot.
But now that things have started up I remember why I had so many concerns. Four Kings players have tested positive for coronavirus. Richaun Holmes broke quarantine and is undergoing a period of isolation before he can practice or even leave his room again. And now De’Aaron Fox has injured his ankle.
Reports indicate that Fox’s ankle injury isn’t that serious, but we also didn’t expect Marvin Bagley to miss most of the season with a “mild” left foot sprain. The Kings medical staff hasn’t earned my trust yet, and as such I worry about Fox. I also worry how the Kings will look when De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Alex Len, Jabari Parker and Richaun Holmes will have all missed parts of an already-abbreviated training camp.
There remain reasons for optimism. Fox should hopefully be healed before games begin in earnest. Marvin Bagley being fully healthy provides the Kings another big man option off the bench. Fox’s shoulder and Bogdan Bogdanovic’s knee should be fully healthy for the first time in a long time.
But the concerns remain. Fox took a solid month of games to fully bounce back from his previous ankle injury. Marvin Bagley may be back but we’ve yet to see him be integrated into any sort of offensive system other than iso ball. We still don’t know how Luke Walton will handle his lineups.
None of this is to say I’m giving up on the Kings. I’ve been proven wrong so many times over the past two seasons, every time it seems like things are heading for rock bottom I end up pleasantly surprised. The Kings always do the opposite of what I expect.
All I know is that the news of Fox’s injury brought a return of dark feelings that are all too familiar with this franchise. Hopefully I can be wrong again.