Looking Back At The 2021 Sacramento Kings

July 17th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Sacramento Kings came with fairly low expectations this year, and they met them, as they pretty much did what they were expected to do. The Kings drafted well, as they managed to select Tyrese Haliburton in the 2020 NBA Draft, and he’s turned out to be one of the best rookies in the NBA this season.  That said, the Kings finished right around where they were expected to, as they were not quite good enough to contend for a playoff spot or get to a play-in game, but they weren’t definitively one of the worst teams in the league this year, either. 

In the offseason, they will look to build around their depth and talent, and maybe make a playoff push for next season.

Sacramento Kings’ star point guard, De’Aaron Fox played very well for his team this past season. Unfortunately though, his team still ended up missing the playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images, via SB Nation’s A Sea of Blue)

G De’Aaron Fox
2021 (SAC): 58 GP, 25.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 48 FG%, 32 3PT%, 72 FT%, 20.7 PER, 56 TS%, 4.2 WS, .098 WS48

Fox is a rising star point guard that played very well this past season.  He showed a knack for taking the ball to the hoop to score the basketball, and he is a solid facilitator that can get into the lane at will.  He’ll still need to improve his jump shot and on-ball defense, but his strong offensive skills may make him the Kings’ franchise player to build around for next season and for years to come.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting point guard on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars (4 stars potential)

F Harrison Barnes
2021 (SAC): 58 GP, 16.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 50 FG%, 39 3PT%, 83 FT%, 15.4 PER, 63 TS%, 4.5 WS, .103 WS48

Barnes was very effective for his team this past season.  He shot the ball very well, as he provided efficient shooting, scoring, and rebounding to help his team.  He will still need to improve his defense, but he generally played well for them this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting small forward on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G Buddy Hield
2021 (SAC): 71 GP, 16.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 41 FG%, 39 3PT%, 85 FT%, 12.8 PER, 2.2 WS, .044 WS48

Hield is an athletic sharpshooter that showed a knack for shooting and scoring the basketball this year, but he didn’t defend very well when he was on the court.  He’s a scorer that can really put up points, but he will need to defend much better to help his team more next season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter or Good Bench Player on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

C Richaun Holmes
2021 (SAC): 61 GP, 14.2 PPG. 8.3 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.6 BPG, 64 FG%, 79 FT%, 20.2 PER, 67 TS%, 6.1 WS, .165 WS48

Holmes had a very good season, and he excelled as an interior player for his team this season.  He provided inside scoring, rebounding, and shot blocking skills.  He may need to improve his on-ball defense and look to extend his shooting range further out to beyond the three-point line.  Still, Holmes had a very good 2021 season for the Kings.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F-C Marvin Bagley III
2021 (SAC): 43 GP, 14.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1 APG, 50 FG%, 34 3PT%, 57 FT%, 16.3 PER, 55 TS%, 1.4 WS, .059 WS48

This season was a mixed bag of sorts for Bagley.  He showed an improved three-point shot, as well as fairly solid scoring skills this year, and Bagley also rebounded the ball very well. 

On the downside, he didn’t pass the ball very much, and he didn’t defend well at all this season.  There’s a good chance that he may have been over-extended in his role as a starter, but Bagley’s scoring and rebounding skills could make him a useful role player in a platoon situation.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Sacramento Kings’ rookie guard, Tyrese Haliburton had a very good rookie season. He didn’t get nearly as much attention or the adulation from the public that LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards received, but Haliburton is a solid, all-around player that showed a knack for making good plays on the court.
(Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images, via SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty)

G Tyrese Haliburton
2021 (SAC): 58 GP, 13 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 47 FG%, 41 3PT%, 86 FT%, 16.2 PER, 58 TS%, 3.5 WS, .096 WS48

Haliburton had a terrific rookie season, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator for his team.  He was thought as one of the more polished rookies of the 2020 draft class, and he certainly delivered, as he is a candidate to win the 2021 Rookie of the Year award this year.  He is a very skilled, playmaking guard whose strong offensive skills could make him a very good player in the NBA for years to come.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter or good bench player on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3.5 stars potential)

G Delon Wright
2021 (DET/SAC): 63 GP, 10.2 PPG, 4.4 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 46 FG%, 37 3PT%, 80 FT%, 16.3 PER, 56 TS%, 4.3 WS, .117 WS48

Wright had a solid season, as he excelled as an all-around player in his role on both the Pistons and the Kings this past year.  He shot the three-ball significantly better in Sacramento, and he had a sizable defensive impact for Detroit.  He is a solid, steady role player that will likely play plenty of minutes either for the Kings or another NBA team next season.

2021 Season Grade: A- (A- w/DET, A- w/SAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

F Maurice Harkless
2021 (MIA/SAC): 37 GP, 5.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 42 FG%, 27 3PT%, 77 FT%, 8.1 PER, 53 TS%, 0.6 WS, .038 WS48

When Miami let Jae Crowder to Phoenix, the Heat signed Harkless, and it was thought that Harkless could ably fill Crowder’s role, at least on the defensive end.  However, he couldn’t really get his footing into Miami’s rotation, and he was dealt to Sacramento. 

With his new team, the Kings, Harkless really struggled to shoot the basketball, and he didn’t quite defend nearly as well as expected, though he showed more scoring skills than expected.  Still, his performance this season was a significant letdown overall.

2021 Season Grade: D (D w/MIA, D w/SAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Harkless will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Terence Davis
2021 (TOR/SAC): 61 GP, 8.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 43 FG%, 37 3PT%, 82 FT%, 12.7 PER, 55 TS%, 0.8 WS, .038 WS48

Davis didn’t quite play nearly as well as he did as a rookie, and he landed in Toronto Raptors’ head coach, Nick Nurse’s doghouse for a while prior to being traded to Sacramento.  He didn’t play very good defense this year, and that led him to not get nearly as many minutes as expected this past season.

The Raptors basically dealt him just for a 2021 second round pick, and it was thought that Toronto dumped him for not very much.  Davis excelled as a shooter and scorer for Sacramento, but it’s clear now that maybe he shouldn’t have been named to the All-Rookie second team last year over the likes of R.J. Barrett and Tyler Herro.

2021 Season Grade: C (D+ w/TOR, C+ w/SAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Davis will be a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Hassan Whiteside
2021 (SAC): 36 GP, 8.1 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 56 FG%, 52 FT%, 19.2 PER, 57 TS%, 0.9 WS, .081 WS48

Whiteside was signed basically for the veterans’ minimum, but he didn’t play nearly as well as expected for the Kings this past season.  He still rebounded and blocked shots, and provided some inside scoring for his team, but he didn’t defend nearly as well as he was expected to, and he didn’t play nearly as much, either.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Damian Jones
2021 (PHO/LAL/SAC): 39 GP, 4.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 68 FG%, 72 FT%, 14.6 PER, 71 TS%, 1.6 WS, .138 WS48

Jones ended up playing for three different teams, and while it looked like as if he would stay on the Lakers, the Lakers did not retain him, and Jones ended up making a favorable impression on the Kings to remain with them for the rest of the season.

He excelled as an inside scorer and interior defender this past season, and Jones did a good job of blocking shots.  On the downside, he didn’t rebound the ball very well, and he was foul prone, but Jones played well enough on the Kings to contend for a rotation spot if he stays with them next season.

2021 Season Grade: C+ (D- w/PHO, B w/LAL, C+ w/SAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Jones’ contract next season is non-guaranteed.

F Louis King (Two-Way)
2021 (SAC): 6 GP, 7.3 RPG, 3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 50 FG%, 36 3PT%, 100 FT%, 21.2 PER, 60 TS%, 0.3 WS, .160 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 13.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 52 FG%, 46 3PT%, 81 FT%, 15.7 PER, 67 TS%, 0.9 WS, .090 WS48

The Detroit Pistons had surprisingly waived King before the start of the season, so he was left without an NBA team, and he had to make an impression by playing in the NBA G-League this past season.

He played well in the G-League as he shot the ball well, and he had a pivotal game where he shot the ball really well in an overtime win over the G-League Ignite.  His strong play there enabled him to latch on with the Sacramento Kings on a two-way contract.

With the Kings, Louis King played extremely well for them in the six games he played for them, as he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He is a talented, athletic swingman that could project well into a 3 and D role in the NBA, and he could ready to be a regular rotation player in this league next season.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F-C Chimezie Metu
2021 (SAC): 36 GP, 6.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 51 FG%, 35 3PT%, 72 FT%, 14.5 PER, 57 TS%, 0.6 WS, .061 WS48

Metu showed off promising scoring skills, as he also showed that he can knock down threes to capably stretch the floor on offense.  He didn’t rebound nor defend as well, but his athleticism, offensive skills, and motor could enable him to compete for a rotation spot on the Kings’ roster next season.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Metu’s contract next season is non-guaranteed.

G-F Justin James
2021 (SAC): 36 GP, 3.9 PPG, 47 FG%, 37 3PT%, 58 FT%, 11.3 PER, 55 TS%, 0.1 WS, .020 WS48

James didn’t play much this season, but he showed more shooting and scoring skills than last year.  He didn’t rebound nor defend very well, and he was slightly more turnover prone than last season, though.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

James’ contract next season is non-guaranteed.

G-F Robert Woodard
2021 (SAC): 13 GP, 1.5 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 40 FG%, 17 3PT%, 38 FT%, 12.5 PER, 43 TS%, 0 WS, -.011 WS48
2021 (G-League): 12 GP, 16.8 PPG, 11 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 41 FG%, 21 3PT%, 69 FT%, 17.7 PER, 49 TS%, 0.5 WS, .058 WS48

Woodard showed enough promise to get selected in the second round of the 2020 draft last year, and he profiled into a 3 and D type of role in the NBA.

However, Woodard just didn’t shoot the ball very well in either the NBA or the G-League.  He’s shown some rebounding, playmaking, and defensive skills in the G-League, but he just hasn’t shot the ball very well nor scored efficiently, and one has to wonder if the Kings will keep Woodard on their roster next season.

2021 Season Grade: F+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA (or Rotation player in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 stars (2 stars potential)

G Jahmi’us Ramsey
2021 (SAC): 13 GP, 3.1 PPG, 39 FG%, 26 3PT%, 100 FT%, 10.5 PER, 50 TS%, 0 WS, .012 WS48
2021 (G-League): 12 GP, 9.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 36 FG%, 22 3PT%, 86 FT%, 7.9 PER, 47 TS%, -0.3 WS, -.051 WS48

Ramsey is an athletic combo guard that showed some promise as a shooter and defender in college as a freshman at Texas Tech, and that helped him get drafted in the second round by the Kings in the 2020 draft.

However, he was just terrible in both the NBA and in the G-League this past season.  He didn’t do much of anything well, and his jump shot looked to be far worse than expected this year.  He showed plenty of promise at Texas Tech, but his abysmal season this year in both the NBA and in the G-League may lead one to wonder if the Kings will keep him around next season.

2021 Season Grade: F
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA (or Rotation player in the G-League)

Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 stars (2 stars potential)

G Kyle Guy (Two-Way)
2021 (SAC): 31 GP, 2.8 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 1 APG, 33 FG%, 28 3PT%, 80 FT%, 8.5 PER, 45 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.015 WS48

Guy has played two seasons in both the NBA and the G-League in the Sacramento Kings’ organization.  He had a very good preseason this year in the NBA, as he showed the sharpshooting prowess he had displayed at Virginia.

However, he was unable to translate his preseason success to the regular season, and Guy simply just didn’t shoot the ball nor defend well in the NBA this year.  He showed better than advertised playmaking skills, but that might not be good enough for him to keep his spot on the Kings’ team next year.

2021 Season Grade: F+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA (or Starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 stars (2 stars potential)

No Longer With The Team:

F Glenn Robinson III
2021 (SAC): 23 GP, 5.3 PPG, 2 RPG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 91 FT%, 9 PER, 55 TS%, 0.3 WS, .033 WS48

He didn’t shoot the ball nearly enough on offense this year, and while he is an athletic combo forward that can still knock down outside shots, he did not do much else as he really struggled to defend when he was on the court.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA (or starter overseas)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

C Chris Silva
2021 (MIA/SAC): 15 GP, 2.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 63 FG%, 73 FT%, 11.5 PER, 71 TS%, 0.2 WS, .101 WS48

He showed promise as a rookie big man last year on the Miami Heat, but he seemed to regress this past season.  He didn’t improve as he is still a very foul prone big man, and he was quite turnover prone on offense this year.

Silva can finish plays around the basket, rebound and block shots, but Miami didn’t feel compelled to keep him this time around, and he didn’t make a noticeable impact on Sacramento, either.

2021 Season Grade: C (C w/MIA, D- w/SAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA (or starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Head Coach:
Luke Walton
2021 (SAC): 31-41, did not make the playoffs
Head Coaching Career: 160-230, 0-0 in his playoff career

Sacramento Kings’ head coach, Luke Walton led his team to a 31-41 record as his team basically met expectations, but they still missed the playoffs this year. At some point, Kings’ fans will want their team to make the playoffs sooner than later.
(Photo:
Michael Reaves/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Hoops Habit)

The Kings pretty much played to their expected level, but Luke Walton did a very good job of working with and managing Tyrese Haliburton, whom played very well during his rookie season.

Walton did a nice job of incorporating Haliburton seamlessly into his team’s rotation without missing a beat.  On the other hand, the Kings do have some talented players, yet they weren’t in contention for a playoff spot late this season.  While the Kings still missed the playoffs, Luke Walton seemed to have done a good enough job this year to get another season to be the Kings’ head coach.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head Coach of the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

For the first time in a while, Luke Walton helped his team meet expectations this past season. However, there may be pressure for the Kings to develop into a playoff-caliber team next year. As he’s never led any of his teams into the playoffs when coaching a full season (excluding his tenure with the 2016 Warriors here), Luke Walton could be on the hot seat for next season, especially if they finish near or at the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference next season.

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Sacramento Kings’ Season:

The Kings weren’t expected to make it to the playoffs, and they didn’t.  With head coach Luke Walton having led a 2018-19 Lakers team that had LeBron that somehow didn’t make the playoffs, there weren’t particularly high expectations for this team.  From a team perspective, the Kings did not consistently play well, and they were very bad defensively.  They do have some offensively talented players, though.

From a developmental perspective, it seems that they are slowly heading in the right direction.  They received a strong season from star point guard De’Aaron Fox, who averaged 25 points per game, and rookie point guard Tyrese Haliburton also played very well this past season.  Some of their younger players are developing and may be on the fast track for next year.

The 2020-21 Sacramento Kings’ Season Grade: C

The Sacramento Kings’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
F Marvin Bagley III
F Harrison Barnes
G Buddy Hield
G Tyrese Haliburton
G De’Aaron Fox

Key Reserves:
G Delon Wright
The 9th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
G Terence Davis
F Louis King (Two-Way)
C Chimezie Metu

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
C Damian Jones
G-F Justin James
The 39th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F Robert Woodard II
G Jahmi’us Ramsey

With Kyle Guy having underperformed in the NBA for two years in a row, and with Ramsey and Woodard bringing forth vastly disappointing seasons both at the NBA and G-League level, the Kings might decide to clear some roster spots, especially in case if they are tired of waiting around on the three of them. 

They could bring in veterans or young players that could better fit their team, and more talent and competition on their roster could bolster their depth and improve their team a little for next season.

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
Richaun Holmes – Not Expected Back
Hassan Whiteside – Not Expected Back
Maurice Harkless – Not Expected Back

Richaun Holmes is not expected to stay in Sacramento, as he will probably command more money and sign with another team elsewhere in free agency.  Hassan Whiteside did not play nearly as much or as well as expected, and so he will likely go elsewhere in this league.  Maurice Harkless did not play well on Sacramento and his skill set doesn’t really fit a bad team, so he will probably sign with a different NBA team in the offseason.

Impending Restricted Free Agents:
Terence Davis – Expected Back

Players on Non-Guaranteed Contracts:
Chimezie Metu – Expected Back
Damian Jones – Expected Back
Justin James – Expected Back

Projected Players Cut From Next Season’s Roster:
G Kyle Guy

Projected Offseason Plan for the Sacramento Kings:
Their free agent plan may hinge on whether or not if Richaun Holmes wants to come back, and if the Kings want to keep him or not next season.  Holmes has put up very good numbers individually in Sacramento, but they have not won many games with him as their starting center.  If he decides to sign elsewhere, then the Kings will have money to spend elsewhere.

The Kings might have only enough cap space to sign one mid-tier player in free agency if they don’t re-sign Richaun Holmes.  In that case, they could either look to sign a center to replace him, or to sign more wing players and forwards in case if they fully want to transition to play small-ball.

They have two draft picks at #9 and #39.  They will likely look to draft players that will best fit around the quartet of De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Harrison Barnes, so they will either likely select a wing player or a center to complement them.

The 2022 Sacramento Kings’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
31-51, 13th in the Western Conference

Expected 2022 Season Outcome: 
The Sacramento Kings will continue to try to accumulate talent, but in a tough Western Conference, they could still be one of the worst teams in this conference, which might put their head coach Luke Walton closer to the hot seat.

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my ratings scale and how I rate NBA players and coaches, you can find it here. Thanks for reading.

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