Kings

Kings Can Follow Nuggets’ Footsteps to a Ring

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The Sacramento Kings are eerily similar to the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets.

Let’s dive into how the Beam Team can replicate Denver’s winning ways.

DYNAMIC DUOS

Whether acquired through the draft or a blockbuster trade, both teams have their dynamic duos for the future. The Nuggets have two-time MVP Nikola Jokić and playoff performer Jamal Murray. The Kings have Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox running their squad.

Sabonis’ archetype is as close as a player can get to Jokić. 

  • Sabonis (22-23 regular season): 19.1 points (61.5 FG%), 12.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 0.5 blocks
  • Jokić (22-23 regular season): 24.5 points (63.2 FG%), 11.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 0.7 blocks

Both big men are the playmakers and anchors of their team’s offenses. Being the center of attention allows their guards to create for themselves.

The point guards are clutch in their own ways. Fox was awarded the Clutch Player of the Year Award last season and Murray shined in the clutch during their championship run.

  • Fox (22-23 playoffs): 27.4 points, 7.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals
  • Murray (playoff career): 25.0 points, 6.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals

All four of these players are ranked in The Ringer’s top 20. If Denver was able to build around their two All-Stars, Sacramento can certainly do so too.

COMPLIMENTARY PLAYERS

To build a championship team, depth is just as important as top-end talent. How did the Nuggets do it… by adding reliable three-point shooters and a rim protector/lob threat to play with their big man. 

Can the Kings add enough pieces to surround Fox and Sabonis? Yes, and they already have a good start to what can be a contending roster in the next couple of years. They have players similar to some of the Nuggets’ rotation, but are still missing one or two key guys. 

KEEGAN MURRAY | MICHAEL PORTER JR.

  • Murray (rookie season): 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, 41.1 3P%, 45.3 FG%
  • Porter Jr. (rookie season): 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, 42.2 3P%, 50.9 FG%

Porter Jr. had an increased role in the offense after his rookie season. It is very likely that Murray will get more shot attempts given how highly the Kings think of him.

  • Porter Jr. (2nd season): 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 44.5 3P%, 54.2 3P%

Keegan can absolutely average 15+ points and 7+ rebounds while maintaining the same efficiency. He was able to do it at Iowa and is poised to take that same leap in the NBA.

To do so, he has to keep getting to the free-throw line (13.0 attempts per game in CA Classic) and creating more shots off the dribble. Murray also has the ability to be more aggressive at the rim on both ends of the floor.

He is an important rotational player but even has the potential to be the third star on a championship team.

MALIK MONK | KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE

  • Monk (career): 10.9 points, 2.4 assists, 35.6 3P%, 43.0 FG%, 4.7 3P Attempts
  • Caldwell-Pope (career): 11.5 points, 1.8 assists, 36.5 3P%, 42.4 FG%, 4.7 3P Attempts

Monk and Caldwell-Pope are both lethal shooters, but Monk is the better playmaker and Caldwell-Pope is the better defender. The Kings in particular need players like this that can stretch the floor for Fox and Sabonis.

Monk is already a cornerstone of this team’s depth. With the extra cap space Sacramento created in the offseason, they would be silly not to sign him to a big contract after this upcoming season. 

KINGS LACK A LOB THREAT

Sacramento is missing a lob threat to play alongside Sabonis. In the regular season, the Kings attempted 26 alley oops dunks while Aaron Gordon of the Nuggets attempted 25 by himself. Sabonis is an elite playmaker that would thrive even more if he had an athletic power forward alongside him.

Sabonis and Keegan Murray led the Kings with 0.5 blocks a game (regular season), which isn’t enough if they want to be stout on defense. Denver had Jokić and Gordon combine to average 1.7 blocks a game in the playoffs.

If GM Monte McNair acquired this type of player, it would absolutely increase the odds of a championship banner being hung atop the Golden 1 Center.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS

  • Kings Defensive Rating (regular season): 116.0 – 24th of 30
  • Kings Defensive Rating (playoffs): 111.6 – 7th of 16

Sacramento was drastically better on defense in their playoff series than they were in the regular season. They succeeded due to scouting and internal improvements against the defending champion Warriors. 

  • Nuggets Defensive Rating (regular season): 113.5 – 15th of 30
  • Nuggets Defensive Rating (playoffs): 110.2 – 4th of 16 teams

The Nuggets also showed this year that a team can improve defensively from the regular season into the postseason. With this being said, McNair should look to add versatile defenders like Bruce Brown and Christian Braun, who the Nuggets had previously added to their roster. 

THE FUTURE OF THE KINGS

According to BetMGM, the Sacramento Kings are tied for the 14th-best odds to win the NBA championship this season. But don’t worry, their championship window is going to be open for a long time given the ages and long-term contracts of their young core.

Fans of the Beam Team should be looking forward to the future. 

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About Zach Schmidt

Business student from Sacramento with a passion for sports.

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