The Sacramento Kings have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season, as they are 18-16 and guaranteed to enter 2019 with, at worst, a .500 record, pending the result of back-to-back games against the Lakers.
For many franchises, a .500 record wouldn’t command this much excitement, but you have to remember how bad things have been in Sacramento since the heyday of the early 2000s. The Kings haven’t finished a season above .500 team since 2005-06, which was also their last postseason appearance after making the playoffs eight straight seasons. Sacramento has won more than 30 games in a season only once in the last 10 seasons of basketball in the capital city of California, with 33 wins in 2015-16 at the peak of the DeMarcus Cousins era, only to see him traded the next year.
Nine coaches and 12 top-10 draft picks later, the Kings entered this season with expectations of being the same old Kangz. However, on opening night, Sacramento hung around with the Jazz much longer than anyone anticipated and beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City two games later. So far this season Sacramento has two wins apiece over the Thunder, Grizzlies and Timberwolves, along with wins over Utah, San Antonio, Indiana, New Orleans, and Dallas. They’re beating up on the actual bad teams — which is what a decent to good team should do — and so far they look the part of a team that can actually compete for playoff position.
Maybe more importantly, the Kings are an awful lot of fun to watch, which has not been something anyone’s said about Kings basketball in more than a decade. Entering the season, this roster seemed like yet another odd mix of young and old talent, with few seeing the vision of how it would all work. However, whether by luck or skill, the Kings have struck a pretty tremendous balance from frontcourt to backcourt and are getting better production from just about everyone than was expected.