The Sacramento Kings entered the season with playoff expectations, as the franchise aimed to build on a 39-win performance in 2018-19. Things haven’t coalesced just yet for Luke Walton’s squad but, on the bright side, the Kings are still within a stone’s throw of a playoff spot in the muddled Western Conference.
In this installment of our Holiday Wishlist series, we’ll break down what the Kings will be searching for during the holiday season, including reflections on the current roster and what might coming in the future.
#1: A new home for Dewayne Dedmon
Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Dedmon wants out of Sacramento, less than six months after signing a three-year, $41 million contract. In theory, Dedmon’s fit in Sacramento made perfect sense with the Kings in that his floor-spacing should have played well with Marvin Bagley. However, Bagley had an injury-filled start to the season and Dedmon struggled mightily.
Since then, Richaun Holmes has taken a major step forward and, with Dedmon essentially out of the rotation, it would make sense for the Kings to look elsewhere. It may not be urgent to move Dedmon but, with $13-plus million guaranteed for 2020-21, clearing him off the books would be quite helpful. We’ll see if the Kings are able to engineer that kind of maneuver, which may not bee too difficult, as Dedmon is one heck of a player who can bolster any frontcourt that could use a boost.
#2: A clean bill of health for Marvin Bagley
Bagley appeared in just nine of Sacramento’s first 31 games. That isn’t ideal for a player that is a major part of the present and future for the organization.
At this point, the ship has sailed with regard to the Kings’ decision to draft Bagley over Luka Doncic, but Sacramento really needs to figure out what they have with the former Duke standout. Can he hold up at the five defensively at times? Can he improve as a floor spacer? There are myriad questions but, until Bagley is actually on the court and playing, it is tough for Walton and company to examine the situation.
#3: The explosive backcourt that the Kings expected
Sacramento invested heavily in Bagley but, aside from that, the team’s biggest stake is planted in its backcourt. De’Aaron Fox enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2018-19 but, with an injury-plagued start to 2019-20, it feels almost like a false start. When Fox has played, he hasn’t been quite as good as he was a year ago and, while it’s too early to panic, it is something worth noting.
Fox has the injury excuse to fall back on but, with Buddy Hield, the explanation isn’t as clear. The sharpshooter agreed to a four-year extension with the Kings back in October but, through more than one-quarter of the season, Hield is posting career-worst numbers. On the whole, Hield still has gravity and his true shooting percentage is merely average, not disastrous. This is a player who relies heavily on his shooting, though, and the Kings just can’t be what they were supposed to be without high-end efforts from Fox and Hield.