Then there are the underdogs and the people who seem to be cursed. Franchises that constantly end up becoming the punchline of jokes have a sisyphean life. The Sacramento Kings fit the latter description up to this point in time. The Kings have the most defeats in NBA history—just north of 3,200—but some clubs who were established more recently have a lower win %. Few observers would have expected Sacramento would be third in the Western Conference at the end of March, even if they largely agreed with their off-season moves from this past summer. Not your mother’s Sacramento Kings, these. How then did they change it?
a large swing
Historically failing and poorly run teams seldom make bold moves that pay out (as seen by the Minnesota Timberwolves’ drive towards Rudy Gobert’s centre). Additionally, the Kings encountered some resistance when they dealt the Indiana Pacers their outstanding young point player Tyrese Haliburton in exchange for big man Domantas Sabonis. However, this was one of the even more exceptional instances when the historic deal not only looked to benefit the Kings but also to benefit both parties. The Kings’ aim of freeing their franchise cornerstone, speed-demon point guard De’Aaron Fox, was accomplished by Sabonis, and Haliburton is prospering on the Pacers.
Fox has said that Sabonis is the greatest screenwriter he has ever performed with, and the synergy between the two is palpable. It appears Fox just needed a more suitable running partner and supporting cast after receiving criticism for underachieving for years. Additionally, Sabonis’ success in a new environment has propelled him into the All-NBA discussion. He is now playing for a group that will finish in the top three of their conference for the first time in his career as a result of it.
a superb trainer
Excellent NBA coaches are often only as good as their teams’ players. It’s also true, however, that without a strong captain to guide the ship, even the most talented rosters may quickly go off course. Additionally, Mike Brown has shown strong leadership this season.
The Kings are now having their greatest offensive season ever under Brown, with a scorching 118.9 offensive rating, which, if it holds, would be the highest mark for a season since such data has been kept. In fact, the Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant Nets’ “we’ve never seen anything like this before” offence was even better. (118.3).
When Brown worked for Steve Kerr’s Golden State Warriors in the Bay, where he has been in the NBA coaching levels since the 1990s, he gained a lot of his offensive credentials. (a team who are no stranger to record-setting offensive prowess themselves). Many questioned why Brown would want to coach a club with so much institutional baggage when he accepted the Sacramento position last year. Brown has a strong background. But it’s obvious that he recognised possibilities that many others did not. Brown is presently the odds-on favourite for Coach of the Year in Vegas, and he deserves it.
the auxiliary cast
Basketball is a team sport, and the Kings have shown they have a very talented supporting cast as well. The Sabonis-Fox duo is brilliant, but basketball is a team sport. Since joining the Sacramento Kings this season, Kevin Huerter, who was never really a cornerstone player for the Atlanta Hawks but was always a danger from the outside, has been on fire.
Malik Monk gained notoriety while playing for the failing Los Angeles Lakers last season, but they finally decided not to pay him. As a result, he has now found the ideal fit with the vivacious, quick-moving Kings. The front management received a lot of criticism for selecting Iowa’s Keegan Murray over Purdue’s Jaden Ivey in last year’s draught. While the long-term effects haven’t yet shown, Murray hasn’t exactly been a failure.
Say “Light the Beam”
One of the most committed and passionate fan bases in sports has always been that of Sacramento. The Kings haven’t reached the playoffs in an incredible 17 years, which is the longest in the NBA, but Golden 1 Center supporters have persevered. The Kings capitalised on this and, in one of the most brilliant marketing moves in recent sports history, started projecting a massive purple beam of light from the top of their stadium after each victory.
This was the beginning of the Light the Beam campaign. The Kings were always going to be one of the year’s feel-good stories since, according to Vegas, they had ridiculously absurd +25,000 odds to win the Pacific Division going into the season. However, everyone like an underdog. But it’s impossible to overstate how brilliant the Light the Beam campaign was. One of the most memorable NBA taglines since the “We Believe” Warriors was born out of its infectious joy.
Would the Kings winning the title this year still be shocking? Yes, particularly considering their historically great offence and godawful defence. But it’s definitely a possibility. Furthermore, using home court advantage to end a postseason drought that dates back almost 20 years is no small feat. Sacramento has endured a long, gloomy winter of average conditions (and sometimes worse). The Golden 1 Center is really lit up this year, however. Definitely turn on the beam.