The Kings Still Have Work To Do Before Season Tips Off
The NBA is becoming ever more position-less, and 3&D wings who can get their own have become prized assets, the stuff that makes dreams of GMs and team presidents league-wide. Custodians of the longest active playoff drought in the NBA, the Sacramento Kings do not have a prime cornerstone wing to build around. Shockingly, going into this new season, that streak looks to continue.
The way things are, the only two seasoned players with substantive NBA experience who can do that role on the wing for the Kings are Harrison Barnes and Moe Harkless. Barnes put up respectable numbers for the Kings last year in 2020-21, and Harkless made a sizable positive contribution after a trade deadline move from the Miami Heat.
With that being said, make no mistake if Luke Walton's charges are going into the season with these two as their only quality wings to support star guard DeAaron Fox and standout rookie Tyrese Haliburton, they should be brace themselves
Besides Barnes and Harkless, the Kings have two other role players who can play on the wing to space the floor and play solid team defense. Louis King and Robert Woodard. While they have the measurables to contest with the length and strength of wings, they are unfortunately pretty green with no more than 200 regular season minutes between them.
Woodard's contract has guarantees for the upcoming season. He will need to pull up his socks, so to speak, if his underwhelming Summer League play is anything to go by. Louis King is playing on a two-way contract with the King's G-League affiliate; hence it remains to be seen how much he will contribute.
During the earlier offseason wheeling & dealing, reports abounded of a proposed trade that would send Buddy Hield, once centerpiece to the Demarcus Cousins trade, to the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell.
Had that move been done, the Kings would have some reason to be perky about their wing play. Kuzma had an up-and-time with the Lakers, but he can be a solid scorer in the right setup. Harrell is a high-energy rim runner and screener but can be exploited by more skilled big men; see Nikola Jokic in the great playoff collapse. On the flip side, the Kings also lack depth at guard and center.
The Kings right now have five centers on the roster, Richaun Holmes, Tristan Thompson, Neemias Queta, Alex Len, and Damian Jones. Last season two guys moonlighted at the 5, Chimezie Metu and Marvin Bagley.
At guard, they have De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Jahmi'us Rmasey, Terrance Davis, and Justin James. James' team option for the season might not get picked up; we're going to see.
With two months to go until the season tips off, more can still happen, but Sacramento has to move to address the imbalance in their roster. There are two months left in the NBA offseason, so this can change, yet something needs to give.
After a stellar showing at the Summer League, bagging co-MVP honors, Davion Mitchell looks to take on a significant portion of backcourt minutes alongside Fox and Haliburton. Buddy Hield should also play substantial minutes in the rotation.
Almost certainly, the Kings should depend intensely on guard-heavy lineups that incorporate some of Mitchell, Haliburton, Fox, and Hield. However, even still, there aren't sufficient minutes to go around. Mitchell will have to continue with the great start at Summer League, playing hellacious defense and knocking down shots to crack more minutes in the backcourt rotation.
As far as a holistic group that will make a push for a spot in the postseason, the Kings may have the most exceedingly terrible crop of wings in the NBA. If they are to even sniff at the play-in tournament, something that many bookies, including betting24, have scrapping for, Monte McNair and his front office staff are going to have to make moves.
It's conceivable that the Kings are watching and waiting for a pot-stirring in other league circles. They are possibly monitoring the situation of guys like Ben Simmons and Pascal Siakam. For the former, his standoff with Philly looks to play out into the season and what package the Sixers will want in return. Regardless, the Kings will still have to find suitable wing depth to fill out the roster in what is now a subpar pool of free-agent wings.
A person like Josh Hart would be a positive addition. However, the Kings would almost certainly need to give up the talent they are in short supply of in a sign-and-trade. While not the prototypical wing size at 6'5", he can provide shooting and perimeter defense.
Beyond Josh Hart, nobody, as of now, accessible on the free-agent pool makes a noticeable dent in their aspirations. What would become of their undersized jumbo guard lineups if a person like Barnes gets hurt or put in Covid protocol, missing an extended period.
Teams are likely going to match up big against them and pound the glass against them. Is Moe Harkless going to plug the gaps to the tune of 30 minutes a game? Neither of those scenarios is alluring for Sacramento and their hopes to end their playoff drought.
While miracles can happen in the eleventh hour and dominos falling around the league may bring Sacramento into play, time is ticking for this Kings' front office. Their roster lacks balance, and time is of the essence.