Kings

Kings Can’t Find Their Footing in the West

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Here we go again.

New season, renewed optimism, but this feels different!

Sacramento Kings fans begin almost every season hoping the team will finally break their playoff drought. Instead, they’ve had to endure frustration.

The Kings have not made the playoffs in sixteen long seasons!

There was plenty of optimism when last season began, but the team flopped.

Badly.

For many fans, the disappointment was harder to take than ever before because the expectations were too high.

A NEW YEAR, A NEW HOPE

The optimism this season in Sactown feels different than years past. The team has more depth and several players who did not want to be in Sacramento are no longer with the team.

The Kings hated to trade Tyrese Haliburton, but they had two top point guards in Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox. They wanted a strong big man, which they got in two time all-star Domantas Sabonis. So the Kings now have the Ox and the Fox.

Last year’s Kings team allowed an average of 114.8 points per game, so they hired defensive-minded Mike Brown as their new head coach. Brown was the Warriors defensive coach over the past six seasons. Last season, the Warriors were second in opponent points per game at 106.6.

CAN SOMEBODY MAKE A BASKET?

The Kings struggled shooting the ball from deep a year ago and neither Fox nor Sabonis have been known as good three-point shooters, so they went out and got two snipers from beyond the arc: Kevin Huerter in a trade with Atlanta and Malik Monk, signed as a free agent after playing last season with the Lakers.

Monk’s signing reunites him with Fox. They are long-time friends and were dynamic backcourt teammates in college at Kentucky. It has not taken them long to send Kings fans into a frenzy with these highlight plays that came within minutes of each other.

THE SEASON SO FAR

Kings fans are really excited about first round draft pick Keegan Murray, the fourth player taken in the 2022 NBA draft. Murray shined in summer league and looks like he is going to be a solid contributor. Murray started the season on the bench, but quickly earned a starting spot. He’s had some rookie ups and downs through the Kings first nine games, but expectations are high that Murray is going to be a key player for the Kings for many years.

The first part of the Kings schedule was brutal: Blazers, Clippers, Warriors, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, Heat, Warriors.

Portland was thought to be a winnable game, but the Kings lost. They started the season 0-4. Some Kings fans may have had their hopes shaken, but for others the expectations were that the Kings would be doing well if they just went 1-3 in those four games.

The Kings finally broke into the win column against Miami. They have won three of their last five. There have been moments of good play, there have been times when the team has struggled through their first nine games.

Fox has been the Kings brightest star. He is playing like an all-star. Fox is averaging 26.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He is shooting 54.5% from the field and 86.4% from the free-throw line. Fox, who has previously struggled from the line, made 23-of-23 free throws before finally missing one in Monday’s game.

Fox hit one of the biggest shots of the still young season Saturday night in Orlando.

That buzzer beater gave the Kings their third win to start the season.

A ROLLERCOASTER

Monday night’s game against the Warriors was another encouraging but also a frustrating game for the Kings.

Encouraging because the Kings played well and led for most of the game against last year’s champs.

Frustrating because they lost the lead late as Steph Curry did Steph Curry things, going off for 47 points.

Adding to the Kings frustration, though, was that they felt they didn’t get an obvious call from the officials. With 1.3 seconds on the clock, down by three, the Kings had a chance to send the game into overtime. The ball was inbounded to Kevin Huerter. He was fouled, not once, not twice, but three times!

Klay Thompson put his hand on Huerter’s back, hit his shooting hand while Huerter was going up for the shot, then hit Huerter’s hand again on the follow thru.

Huerter and the Kings pleaded their case to no satisfaction on the court. Afterwards on Twitter, Huerter was brief but to the point.

The missed call on Huerter’s shot was the second missed call in the past three games to go against the Kings. The NBA’s last two minute report confirmed what the Kings argued in the Miami game: Tyler Herro traveled when he hit the game-winning three-pointer.

In the end, there is nothing Brown or the Kings can do about the missed calls. They simply have to lace up their shoes and come out shooting Wednesday night against Cleveland.

The Kings and their fans aren’t happy with a 3-6 start. Their fans are encouraged, though, that the Kings have been in every game with a chance to win. There is more talent in Sacramento than there has been in some time. It does feel different. It feels like this Kings team can at least make the play-in tournament.

Kings fans are keeping their fingers crossed.

About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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