Since I was young, I was always a fan of a basketball team that wasn’t the Kings. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the Kings, but because the Kings were honestly so terrible that most people were afraid to say they were Kings fans. The Sacramento Kings weren’t always like this- in fact, the Kings were a championship contender in 2006 and then Kobe Byrant came along and blew Sacramento’s dreams out the water.
13 years later and I’m here to tell you that you should no longer be afraid to be a Kings fan. Here’s why. The Sacramento Kings have experienced revitalization from a decision that caused owner Vivek Ranadive and General Manager Vlade Divac to be highly ostracized. That decision was trading DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins to the New Orlean Pelicans that had rising, young number one pick, Anthony Davis for what was seen at the time, little to nothing. However, it was this trade that caused the NBA to change forever and will allow Sacramento to enter the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
A short summary of Cousins’ time with the Kings looks like this: a first round pick enters a small market team with nothing to lose and nothing to prove. Sacramento serves as his own personal training guard. He develops into the face of Sacramento basketball, putting up astonishing numbers as a center with 56 points as his career high. More than the face of basketball, his ability to continue to put up historic number for a center cemented him as the league’s best center at the time. Yet after all these accolades and distinctions, Sacramento still traded him. Why? They wanted to rebuild and they looked for the long term solution. An immensely talented young core with a few players that had veteran experience and overall “swagger” to revitalize the culture of basketball in Sacramento.
Divac was so confident in this that he said, “I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years. I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down.”
They started this by acquiring Buddy Hield, a decent, but virtually unknown basketball player at the time, a first round pick, and a second round pick. As soon as Hield came to Sacramento, he began to blossom averaging around 15 points per game in just the last 25 games of the season. Now, he is recognized as one of the league’s best three point shooters and averages upwards of 20 points per game. The next big things that came were Justin Jackson and Harry Giles, who came in the form of the 15th and 20th picks. Justin Jackson was solid, but his real worth for the Kings proved to be as a trading piece to acquire Harrison Barnes, a player who helped to secure the Golden State Warriors’s first championship in 40 years. Harry Giles, on the other hand, was the number one prospect out of high school until a career-ending injury. Divac, however, believed in his potential and it has proved well for the Kings. The last piece for the Kings through the Cousins trade involved them “tanking” or doing terrible in the NBA season without their former superstar to retain a first round pick. That first round pick was De’Aaron Fox. They developed his raw talent by working on his shooting making him a remarkably better shooter but maintained towards the bottom of the rankings to acquire another pick. This time, it was the number two overall pick in Marvin Bagley. Bagley proved to be tremendous and a potential superstar in the coming years. De’Aaron Fox, the current franchise cornerstone, and this young team have led the Kings to 39 wins, the highest in many years.
All in all, Sacramento turned one superstar who left the Kings with a 27-55 win record into De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Harry Giles, and Marvin Bagley who left last season with a record that the team hasn’t seen for years, one spot away from the playoffs, and most importantly a fanbase who is excited about basketball in Sacramento for the first time in 13 years.