Young Sacramento Kings on the brink of something special

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Sacramento Kings
NBCsports.com

One of the teams that have been surprising this season is the Sacramento Kings.

The biggest takeaway from their season so far is that they have a nice, fast-paced offense, but struggle to get past the more experienced teams like the Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder.

However, the Kings have a talented, young group of players that are developing a bit faster than we all thought, with a handful of older players that are helping them grow.

The way this franchise is looking, they have the potential to become something unique over the next few seasons.

The Kings average age at the beginning of the season was 25, making them the seventh-youngest team in the NBA.

Only four players on the team have five or more years of NBA experience in the NBA: Iman Shumpert, Ben McLemore, Kosta Koufos, and Zach Randolph. The team doesn’t have a lot of veteran leadership but has enough to still allow their youngsters to learn.

Rookies:

Marvin Bagley III (19-years-old), Harry Giles III (20-years-old), Wenyen Gabriel (21-years-old)

Bagley hasn’t been having the monster rookie season that he was projected to have after getting selected No. 2 in last year’s draft.

Knee problems have prevented him from playing much of the season, but for the 13 games he’s played in, he’s averaged 13 points, six rebounds, and one assist per game.

Bagley tallied eight points, six rebounds, and one block in his return on Jan. 7th against the Orlando Magic. If he can stay healthy, the game will come to him as time goes on.

Harry Giles, Bagley’s former teammate at Duke University, sat out his first season after battling knee problems.

Back on the court now, Giles is still slowly getting back into the groove of things and getting comfortable out there. He can move pretty well and is good at finding open teammates when they cut to the basket. His passes have been on point lately.

Guards:

De’Aaron Fox (21-years-old), Frank Mason III (24-years-old), Iman Shumpert (28-years-old), Yogi Ferrell (25-years-old), Ben McLemore (25-years-old)

De’Aaron Fox is averaging 7.4 assists per game and leads the team in assists. One of his specialties is his quick movement with the ball which reminds me a little of Russell Westbrook.

He can change speed, shift his way past defenders, and finish with contact. It looks like the L.A. Lakers may have made a mistake not taking Fox in the 2017 Draft after all.

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Fox has been receiving All-Star praise this year because of his stats taking a leap all across the board.

“Swipa” is averaging 18 points per game and leads the team in steals with 1.8 per contest.

His rookie year, he averaged 11.6 points and shot 41 percent.

Looking at the way he has been playing this season, we may have to consider him as an All-Star soon because some NBA players already see the trajectory Fox is currently on.

“He’s going to be great,” said Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley. “Obviously, he’s got all the tools: athleticism, he can defend, he’s an unselfish player, his shot is getting better as he gets older, so the sky is the limit for him.”

Iman Shumpert is the oldest starter for the Kings. Sounds different considering he’s only 28-years-old and played for multiple teams in his career.

Shumpert is still producing on the court, averaging 9.3 points, three rebounds, and two assists a night.

Having a battle-tested veteran out there with the young group of starters has been a good mix. Yogi Ferrell comes in off the bench behind Shumpert and provides leadership in the King’s second group.

Wings:

Buddy Hield (26), Bogdan Bogdanovic (26), Justin Jackson (23), Troy Williams (23)

Buddy Hield (26-year-old) has been a shooting machine for the Kings. Hield leads the team in scoring at 20.3 points per game but is shooting a career-high 47.5% from the field, 44% from three, and 85% from the free throw line.

Hield has always been a shooter since he was at Oklahoma. His growth over the years has shown since his percentages continue to rise.

Justin Jackson has been getting some playing time in his second season with the team, and he’s showed that he can be a scorer for Kings.

He found himself open a lot and knocked down eight three-pointers in an impressive performance against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 5.

His role on this team has become valuable like the rest of the young guys. When Jackson finds his rhythm, he’s a lethal shooting weapon that has to be accounted for from behind the arc.

Bogdan Bogdanovic has been a nice scoring option for the Kings. One of the older guys on the team, Bogdanovic is averaging 16 points per game because he can create his own offense in an instant.

His highlight of the year can from his game-winning contested three against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bigs:

Willie Cauley-Stein (25-years-old), Nemanja Bjelica (30-years-old),  Kosta Koufos (29-years-old), Zach Randolph (37-years-old), Skal Labissiere (22-years-old)

Willie Cauley-Stein has been the center for the Kings the past four seasons. He’s the leading rebounder for the Kings and can finish often off of pick-and-roll scenarios with De’Aaron Fox.

WCS averages 8.7 rebounds per game, while Nemanja Bjelica helps out with 6.3 rebounds. the 6’10 Bjelica doesn’t shoot it from the outside much but is shooting 44% from three and leads the team in three-point percentage.

Kosta Koufos comes off the bench for the Kings and can produce in spurts.

On Jan. 5, 2019, the Kings and the Warriors helped set an NBA record for most combined three-pointers made in a game at 41. The team itself made a total of 20 threes: Hield (eight), Bjelica (two), Bogdanovic (three), Jackson (five), Ferrell (one), Mclemore (one).

What’s next?

What’s ahead for the Kings is huge, but the question is who will still be there in a few years.

Free agency is going to be key for the Kings.

After this season, the Kings have some vets and young players that are done with their contracts like Shumpert, Randolph, and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Losing the vets won’t hurt much considering these young guys are going to continue to grow, but they’ll have to decide if they will want to keep someone like Cauley-Stein.

Kings
Photo via: Getty Images

The Kings probably aren’t attractive enough yet for a top free agent like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to give them serious consideration this summer, but with all the young talent on the team, trading a package of a few young players and a draft pick could be their best bet of getting a true superstar to help lead the team.

This young team is loaded with potential and can be something special. What they are building will only send the franchise trending upwards, but snatching a solid frontcourt option to help them with their depth at center must be a top priority this summer.

Don’t be surprised if this team ends up in the postseason soon. Keep an eye on the Kings in 2019 and beyond.

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