Team Record (8-4) 4th in the West, 1st in the Pacific Division, & 1st in West Group C of the In-Season Tournament
The return of De’Aaron Fox has completely transformed the Kings’ in just one week. Since his comeback, Fox has been on fire, averaging an impressive 32.5 points, 4.75 rebounds, 6.25 assists, and 2.25 steals per game, leading the team to a perfect 4-0 record. His impact is undeniable, with a staggering +67 plus-minus in just seven games this season. With Fox on the court, the Kings’ offensive rating soars to 123.3, which would be good for first in the league by several miles. In comparison, without Fox the Kings drop to second-to-last with a dismal 105.5.
A semi-bold prediction: Fox is primed to earn Western Conference Player of the Week honors. The only other player that should be in contention is Sacramento’s own Domantas Sabonis, who has been putting up incredible numbers with an average of 27.8 points, 13 rebounds, 7.5 assists, a block, and shooting an outstanding 75.4% from the field in the past week.
Another notable trend is Keegan Murray’s near-elite level defense, which is finally gaining recognition. While the offense continues to find its rhythm, in the last week Keegan has contributed with an average of 14.3 points on 49% shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Having an elite wing defender like him has made a tremendous difference for the team. As Recee Fox mentioned, his offseason battles with Fox have paid off. With Fox solidifying his place as a top-10 player, Domas maintaining his exceptional performance, and Keegan emerging as a two-way force, the Kings might be a stealth contender. The rotation is still evolving, hinting at an even higher potential. JaVale McGee has been given more playing time due to injuries to Alex Len and Trey Lyles, while Sasha Vezenov’s minutes fluctuate as he adjusts to the pace of the NBA and his defensive role on the team. The backup point guard position remains uncertain, with Davion receiving three DNPs last week, Keon providing solid defense but limited offensive output, and Colby Jones proving himself in the G-League. Additionally, there are plenty of options to explore for an upgrade at the starting forward spot opposite Keegan, potentially replacing Harrison Barnes.
Luke had him guarding D everyday this summer. Very well prepared lol
— Recee Fox (@Cee_Caldwell) November 16, 2023
- De’Aaron Fox: Fox is making an undeniable case for early-season MVP consideration. With a stellar 6-1 record when he takes the court, Fox has been a driving force for the team. He’s been averaging an impressive 31.9 points per game and dishing out 6.1 assists. What’s even more remarkable is his shooting efficiency, with a 50% field goal percentage and an impressive 41.7% from beyond the arc.
- Domantas Sabonis: This isn’t the same Domas we saw last year – he’s undergone a transformation of sorts, showcasing an enhanced defensive prowess and a newfound assertiveness on offense. It’s like upgrading from a regular pan pizza to a delectable stuffed crust pizza – while the former is undeniably delicious, adding cheese to the crust takes it to another level! Domas has raised the bar, surprising us with his improved efficiency and leaving fans in awe, just like that tasty, cheesy surprise in a stuffed crust pizza.
- Keegan Murray: Keegan has become a menace on the defensive end, making life difficult for opposing players. It’s time for more people to start talking about his remarkable improvement. In fact, I’m officially revving up the engine and launching a campaign for him to be named the Most Improved Player.
- Kevin Huerter: Huerter has rebounded impressively after a challenging start to the year. Red Velvet has regained his form from last year, bringing his 3-point percentage up to a more than respectable 38.2% while rebounding and generating more steps than ever before in his career.
- Malik Monk: It’s quite simple: Monk deserves more playing time. While his defense has been known to come and go, lately it’s been doing a lot more coming and a lot less going. It’s encouraging to witness his improvement on that end of the court. He’s one of the best shooters on the team, averaging 41.7% from deep 6 attempts per game and averaging a career-high in assists with 5.4 in just 23.3 mins per game.
- Keon Ellis: His individual stats won’t leap out at you but the King’s six-game winning streak coincides directly with Keon becoming a permanent fixture in the rotation. He’s a +19 on the season whereas the dude’s minutes that he yanked, Davion Mitchell, sits at frightening low -62.
- Chris Duarte: Chris’s surge this week is coming on the heels of his best game of the season against the Mavericks, where he started in place of the injured Kevin Huerter and contributed 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Overall, he continues to foul FAR too much and has been widely inconsistent in shooting the ball but maybe this recent play will lead to more confidence and comfort in the future.
- JaVale McGee: McGee is proving to be a reliable option for the team, staying steady as she goes. In fact, you could pipe in the Raconteurs chorus from their 2006 hit as an ode to his consistent performance. With Len sidelined due to injury and Trey yet to make an appearance this season, McGee has stepped up admirably. He excels at rim running, protecting the rim, and being the go-to “rim guy” for the team. His presence provides a valuable fallback plan, ensuring stability even in challenging circumstances.
- Harrison Barnes: Let’s face it, Barnes has been pretty bad this year. As someone who has defended his performance in the past, it’s disheartening to see him even more inconsistent than before. On top of that, he has been routinely exploited on the defensive end. While it was encouraging to witness his solid outing against the Mavericks, where he recorded 12 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, it’s disappointing when such a stat line is considered a good game for a veteran like him.
- Sasha Vezenkov: I like Sasha! While I may not have as much admiration for him as Tim Maxwell does, I believe Sasha is a valuable role player in our rotation. With time, I anticipate him improving even further as he becomes more familiar with the nuances of the NBA game. It’s worth noting that his three-point shooting has already improved to an impressive 35.1%, and I can only see that percentage continuing to rise in the future.
One the bubble – Davion Mitchell I guess…