Sacramento Kings: Best and worst-case scenario for 2019-20

Diving into the best and worst-case scenario for the Sacramento Kings heading into the 2019-20 NBA season

It’s a new year and a new opportunity for the Sacramento Kings to make a name for themselves. Even though Sacramento didn’t make the playoffs last year, they are coming off their best season in 13 years and show plenty of promise.

The young studs of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield led the Kings to 39 wins, a 12-game improvement from the prior season. While they still have ways to go, the young Kings are making strides to being back in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

The 13-year drought is the longest active playoff drought in the league and tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second-longest drought ever. The longest playoff drought ever is held by the Clippers who went 15 years without making the postseason from 1976-1991.

The Western Conference is once again stacked and looks more competitive than ever. With a conference that could hold 10-plus playoff contenders and only eight spots available, it’ll be an uphill battle for Sacramento this season and everyone will need to step up if they want to end the playoff drought.

Let’s take a look at the best and worst-case scenario for the Kings in 2019-20.

Best-case scenario: The Kings sneak into the playoffs and have a competitive 7-game series with a top seed

The Kings have a lot of young talent that has plenty of room to grow and get better. The best thing for the team is to keep moving forward and building upon last season. De’Aaron Fox is growing into an elite point guard, and already showed improvements in every aspect of his game. One of the biggest knocks on him coming out of Kentucky was his jump shot and he answered those questions with a 37 percent shooting clip with good enough volume. Continuous improvement in that area will start leading to all-star game selections.

Buddy Hield has already proved to be one of the elite 3-point shooters in today’s NBA and now has his money after signing a four-year $94 million extension. You add Harrison Barnes in the mix, after signing a new deal with this Kings this offseason, you have three very capable scorers on the perimeter.

The one Sacramento King maybe not talked about enough is Marvin Bagley. The former Duke Blue Devil was a pleasant surprise in how quickly he was able to make the transition from college to the NBA. At Duke, he was a terror on the offensive glass and a great finisher around the rim. Nothing changed in his first year in the league. If Bagley can stay healthy this year, he and Fox should throw their names in the hat as one of the best guards and big combos.

The Kings were also able to bring in some veterans such as Trevor Ariza and Corey Joseph. The presence of veterans on and off the court for a young team still learning how to win is extremely valuable. If all goes well for the Kings they’ll be able to sneak into the postseason which will be a great achievement itself with how stacked the West is.

If they give a top seed fits like the Clippers last year with the Warriors, then the Kings are on their way and fans should ecstatic with a season like that and the future ahead.

Worst-case scenario: Young players regress and the Kings fall back to a bottom four team in the West

There should be no shame in missing the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference with a young team, but narrative is everything and it’s how the season shapes out that will define the team in the future.

The worst possible situation for Sacramento is a gigantic regression from some core players. We discussed the potential of Fox but if he comes back after the success he had last season and doesn’t build from that there could be problems. What if the 3-point shooting was just a fluke?

Odds are Fox will be fine but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time we saw a young player oozing with potential and ultimately fail to live up to it. The same goes for Marvin Bagley as well. If Fox and Bagley regress in any way you may some people in the front office second guessing themselves.

Harrison Barnes signed a four-year $88 million deal to stay in Sacramento. The Kings have hopes that’ll be more involved with the offense now that he’s had a full offseason and training camp with the team, but when he came over in the trade he scored just 11.1 points per game, if it were for an entire season that would’ve been his lowest scoring output since his time with the Golden State Warriors. Barnes will play a key role in how the season goes. If his scoring doesn’t increase then the Kings could end up having a bad contract on their hands.

Next: NBA: 10 thoughts after Clippers beat Lakers in season opener

If Barnes doesn’t become that 3rd scorer and the young core takes a step back, we could be looking at a lottery team and that’s all too familiar with Kings fans.

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