Is taking a step back in 2023-24 inevitable for the Sacramento Kings?

Malik Monk (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
Malik Monk (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Sacramento Kings finally broke their missed-playoffs streak last season, but with an improved Western Conference is a disappointing Sacramento Kings season in play? 

Depending on who you ask, the Sacramento Kings either showcased growth and potential or blew an opportunity in their seven-game first-round NBA Playoff loss at the hands of the Golden State Warriors this past season.

There was no question the most surprising team of last season was the Kings as they ended their 17-year playoff drought. The story of the 2022-23 Kings included De’Aaron Fox establishing himself as a premiere franchise point guard, Domontas Sabonis blossoming as an MVP candidate, a bounce-back tenure for Mike Brown as head coach, and the emergence of several impactful depth pieces.

The Kings were poor on defense but had one of the most electric offenses in the league last season. The good news for them is most of their roster has the potential to get even better due to their youth, like Keegan Murray, Malik Monk, Davion Mitchell, and Kevin Huerter.

However, the Western Conference is much stronger this season.

The Sacramento Kings will have a target on their backs this season

The Kings were a prime example of what can grab regular season wins. Obviously talent and effort, but their durability was unmatched all season. With 11 other teams having the intention to compete for the playoffs, the Kings could have much more competition heading into the 2023-24 NBA season.

They showed the potential to compete with anyone last year, but now they will be the hunted. Their poor defense will need to improve if they want to show any signs of improvement. They lacked size in the first round, getting eaten alive on the boards by Warriors center Kevon Looney.

The Kings added guard Chris Duarte over the summer. Duarte, while coming off an injury-plagued and underwhelming season in Indiana, showed signs as a rookie of being a quality scorer. The issue is, where is the room for Duarte?

The Kings saw excellent guard play with Monk, Mitchell, Fox, and Huerter. Duarte doesn’t add anything that those guys don’t. The Kings also added bigs Nerlens Noel and JaVale McGee, but both haven’t shown quality NBA production in some time.

The Kings didn’t solve their issues of size and defense, and it looks like they’ll be relying on their young talent improving or staying at the same level to build off of last year. The Kings finished third in the West, and teams like the Suns, Clippers, Warriors, and Lakers will be in the hunt for that spot.

Teams that can also make a big jump are the Pelicans and the Thunder. The Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and Mavericks bring high talent to the table and will be looking to bounce back after underwhelming seasons.

Even the Rockets expect to compete adding veterans in the offseason and hiring head coach Ime Udoka. Denver will also be looking to be the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Warriors in 2018.

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The Kings need to keep up their explosive offense going. The NBA is at its best when the Sacramento fans showcase their passion in April. However, a playoff spot is not guaranteed this year, and the Kings need to understand that.