Reviewing the 2019-20 Sacramento Kings

November 15th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The current Sacramento Kings’ logo.
(Photo:
Sacramento Kings/Sports Logo History)

The Sacramento Kings exceeded expectations in 2019, as they won 39 games under head coach Dave Joerger, and they received strong years from De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.  All was almost forgotten that they had the mishap of drafting Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft, because hope of them taking the next leap to the playoffs seemed imminent.

However, they unexpectedly fired Dave Joerger, and hired Luke Walton to be their new head coach.  Walton was the lead assistant from Golden State that helped the Warriors win 73 games in 2016 as he got them to a 39-4 start when Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery, and Walton rightfully earned the right to be a head coach at the end of the 2016 season. 

However, Luke Walton underperformed in three seasons as the Lakers’ head coach, and they even missed the playoffs in 2019 even when he was LeBron’s head coach.  With the Kings’ strange fire and hire, 2020 looked to be a make or break season for Vlade Divac and their front office.  However, Walton underachieved yet again as the team finished 31-41, and Vlade Divac stepped down from the general manager role in August.

De’Aaron Fox had a solid year for the Sacramento Kings in 2020, but his team missed the playoffs this past season.
(Photo:
Justin Ford/USATSI, via CBS Sports)

De’Aaron Fox – B-

2020 (SAC): 51 GP, 21.1 PPG, 6.8 APG, 3.8 RPG, 48 FG%, 29 3PT%, 70 FT%, 32 MPG, 20.6 PER, 4 WS

De’Aaron Fox was the team’s leading scorer, as he really excelled at driving to the basket to do so, and he also showed off solid facilitation skills.  However, he struggled to knock down outside shots, as he had trouble making them from long-distances, and he also didn’t quite defend as well as he did last year.  Still, Fox is a speedy young point guard that could be a star in the making, and he will likely be the Kings’ best player heading into next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting point guard for the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2021 rating: 3 stars

Sacramento Kings’ guard, Buddy Hield played fairly well in 2020, but the skilled scorer reportedly wants out of Sactown.
(Photo:
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, via Fansided’s FS NBA)

Buddy Hield – B

2020 (SAC): 72 GP, 19.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 43 FG%, 39 3PT%, 85 FT%, 30.8 MPG, 16 PER, 3 WS

Buddy Hield is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball.  He made shots efficiently, and was one of the Kings’ leading scorers, and he also provided some playmaking skills for his team.  However, he will need to improve his defense, and there was friction between him and the Kings, as he recently declared his unwillingness to stay on the Kings.  Whether or not if he returns to Sacramento is to be decided between him and the management in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2021 rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Hield has the Poison Pill provision in his contract, which makes him very difficult to trade.

Nemanja Bjelica – B+

2020 (SAC): 72 GP, 11.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 48 FG%, 42 3PT%, 82 FT%, 27.9 MPG, 15.7 PER, 5.3 WS

Nemanja Bjelica played very well this past season for the Kings.  He is a sharpshooter who showed off a solid all-around game, and he did virtually everything well for his team.  He was also a workhorse that played in every game for his team, and he will likely be the team’s starting power forward once again in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting power forward for the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2021 rating: 2.5 stars

Richaun Holmes – B+

2020 (SAC): 44 GP, 12.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 65 FG%, 28.2 MPG, 19.7 PER, 4.9 WS

Richaun Holmes played very well for the Sacramento Kings when he was healthy this season.  He excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and defender, and he was the team’s most underrated player in 2020.  Unfortunately, he missed some time due to hip soreness, but he is a solid big man that will likely be the starting center for their team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting center for the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2021 rating: 2.5 stars

Harrison Barnes – C+

2020 (SAC): 72 GP, 14.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 46 FG%, 38 3PT%, 80 FT%, 34.5 MPG, 13.3 PER, 4.6 WS

Harrison Barnes did a good job of knocking down shots, and he made shots efficiently to provide floor spacing for his team.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his playmaking and defensive skills.  Still, the veteran forward showed that he can effectively knock down shots, and he will likely earn a lot of playing time for the Kings next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting small forward for the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars

Bogdan Bogdanovic excelled as the team’s sixth man off the bench, and he did a good job of shooting and scoring the basketball to help the Sacramento Kings during the 2019-20 NBA season.
(Photo:
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images, Warriors Wire – USA Today)

Bogdan Bogdanovic – B-

2020 (SAC): 61 GP, 15.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 44 FG%, 37 3PT%, 74 FT%, 29 MPG, 15.1 PER, 3.1 WS

He is a skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and Bogdanovic has provided a scoring punch for the Kings off the bench for the past two seasons, including this one.  He also boasts having solid playmaking skills, but he will need to improve his rebounding and defense.  Next year, he will likely earn heavy minutes with the Kings in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Marvin Bagley III – D+

2020 (SAC): 13 GP, 14.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 47 FG%, 18 3PT%, 81 FT%, 25.7 MPG, 15.6 PER, 0.4 WS

He was a decorated player coming out of Duke, but Bagley was surprisingly picked second overall above Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft.  Since then, Bagley hasn’t exactly dissuaded concerns that he was both picked too high and was the wrong pick, and he only played 13 games this year due to foot injuries

On the plus side, he’s rebounded the ball well.  On the downside, he didn’t shoot particularly well for a big man, and he will also need to improve in virtually all facets of the game.  Bagley will need to work on his outside shot and defense, but if he recovers from his foot injury, there are still minutes to be had for him in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

Jabari Parker – C+ (C with Atlanta, B with Sacramento)

2020 (TOT): 38 GP, 14.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 51 FG%, 27 3PT%, 75 FT%, 24.1 MPG, 18 PER, 1.6 WS
2020 (ATL):  32 GP, 15 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 50 FG%, 27 3PT%, 74 FT%, 26.2 MPG, 17.2 PER, 1.2 WS
2020 (SAC): 6 GP, 8.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 58 FG%, 25 3PT%, 89 FT%, 13.3 MPG, 26.5 PER, 0.4 WS

He is an athletic, skilled combo forward that did a good job of scoring the basketball, and he was very effective in making two-point shots when he was on the floor.  He rebounded and passed the ball well for Sacramento, but he will still need to improve his outside shot and defense.  Most likely, he will be either in Sacramento’s rotation, or another team’s rotation next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars

Side note: Has a player option at the end of the 2019-20 season

Harry Giles – B

2020 (SAC): 46 GP, 6.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 55 FG%, 14.5 MPG, 16.4 PER, 1.6 WS

Giles had a solid season in limited minutes for Sacramento this year.  He excelled as a finisher, rebounder, passer, and interior defender in the paint, and Giles was able to contribute some solid minutes for his team.  Unfortunately, his team did not pick up his option, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, but Giles is a talented enough player to crack an NBA team’s rotation next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars (2.5 star potential)

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Cory Joseph – C

2020 (SAC): 72 GP, 6.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, 42 FG%, 35 3PT%, 86 FT%, 24.4 MPG, 10.1 PER, 2.3 WS

He is a backup point guard that operates as a pass-first, floor general for the Sacramento Kings.  He doesn’t take nearly enough shots and he will need to improve his ability to make shots in games, but he can pass and defend when he is on the court.  While he may not stand out in any way, Joseph’s ability to run a team could enable him to be the Kings’ backup point guard yet again next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars

Alex Len – C+ (C+ for his time with both Atlanta and Sacramento)

2020 (TOT): 55 GP, 8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 55 FG%, 17.6 MPG, 17.7 PER, 2.5 WS
2020 (ATL): 40 GP, 8.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 55 FG%, 18.6 MPG, 17.5 PER, 1.8 WS
2020 (SAC): 15 GP, 5.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 59 FG%, 15 MPG, 18.2 PER, 0.7 WS

He played for two different teams this season, and he put up fairly identical numbers for both the Hawks and Kings.  Len excelled as a inside scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker for his team.  He will need to improve his on-ball defense and stay away from foul trouble, but he is a solid backup center that will likely be in an NBA team’s rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Backup center in the NBA
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Yogi Ferrell – C-

2020 (SAC): 50 GP, 4.4 PPG, 1.4 APG, 42 FG%, 30 3PT%, 86 FT%, 10.6 MPG, 12.2 PER, 0.7 WS

He’s a speedy, score-first point guard that struggled to shoot or score the basketball last season with the Kings.  While he generally showed that he can run the team, he struggled to knock down outside shots or defend last season.  Most likely, he will compete for a spot in an NBA team’s rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Kent Bazemore – C- (D- with Portland, B with Sacramento)

2020 (TOT): 69 GP, 8.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 37 FG%, 34 3PT%, 77 FT%, 24.9 MPG, 9.3 PER, 0.6 WS
2020 (POR): 43 GP, 7.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 35 FG%, 33 3PT%, 81 FT%, 25.8 MPG, 7.5 PER, -0.2 WS
2020 (SAC): 25 GP, 10.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 42 FG%, 38 3PT%, 73 FT%, 23.1 MPG, 12.6 PER, 0.8 WS

Kent Bazemore did not play well for Portland this year, and he achieved in 43 games for them before being packaged in a trade to Sacramento.  Since then, he shot the ball well and excelled as a rebounder for the Kings, and Bazemore has defended well when he was on the court.  Still, that doesn’t exactly wash out the disappointing play he put forth for Portland, and there may be a significant concern about his inconsistent play moving forward.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Justin James – C-

2020 (SAC): 36 GP, 2.5 PPG, 42 FG%, 31 3PT%, 48 FT%, 6.4 MPG, 11 PER, 0.1 WS

The second round rookie played college basketball at Wyoming, and he didn’t play very much this past season with the Kings.  While there may be plenty of people that wish that the Kings had chosen a different player with their draft pick, it seems that James did just fine within the limited playing time he was allotted.  Whether or not if he should’ve been the pick is not really the issue right now, but if he should get more playing time in the future could be.

When James was on the floor, he excelled as a facilitator and rebounder, and the athletic swingman showed defensive potential.  He will need to improve his jump shot and ability to score the basketball, but he could compete for more playing time next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth swingman, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

DaQuan Jeffries (Two-Way) – C

2020 (SAC): 13 GP, 3.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 50 FG%, 28 3PT%, 83 FT%, 10.8 MPG, 11.2 PER, 0.3 WS

He’s a very athletic swingman that had a stellar Portsmouth showing, the thought was that the 4-year collegian that played at Tulane would have played his way into getting drafted in 2019.  Instead, Jeffries went undrafted, and he tried to force his way onto Orlando Magic’s roster, only to be the final cut of their team.

At the last minute prior to the start of the regular season, the Sacramento Kings swooped in to give Jeffries a two-way contract, which allowed him the chance to play in the NBA during the regular season.  Jeffries excelled at attacking the basket to score the basketball, and he also passed and rebounded well.  He will need to improve his outside shot and defense, but Jeffries is a talented player that could compete for a rotation spot on the Kings’ roster sooner than later.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth swingman, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 rating: 1.5 stars (2-star potential)

Corey Brewer – C

2020 (SAC): 5 GP, 1.0 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 50 FG%, 6.6 MPG, 8.7 PER, 0 WS

The veteran swingman was added to help fill out Sacramento’s roster to join them in the Orlando bubble.  He was efficient in scoring on two-point shots, and he also rebounded and defended well, but he did not make a single three-pointer this season.  At this stage, it’s unlikely that he’ll get anything above the veterans’ minimum as an offer in free agency right now.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth swingman, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Kyle Guy (Two-Way) – D

2020 (SAC): 3 GP, 1.3 PPG, 40 FG%, 0 3PT%, 3.3 MPG, 6.6 PER, 0 WS

He was a sharpshooter that helped the 2019 Virginia Cavaliers win the National Championship, and the young gunner was a late second round pick that was acquired in a trade from the New York Knicks.  Guy didn’t play much in the NBA this past season, and the jury is out if he can, but if so, he projects into a shooting specialist role off the bench in this league.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth guard, fringe roster player

Projected 2021 rating: 1 star (2 star potential)

Sacramento Kings’ head coach, Luke Walton has been perennially disappointing ever since he’s been hired to be a full-time head coach in the NBA, and another season close to the bottom of the standings could land Walton on the metaphorical hot seat in this league.
(Photo:
Rich Pedroncelli/AP, via The Sacramento Bee)

Head Coach:
Luke Walton – 2020 season grade: D
2020 (SAC): 31-41, missed the playoffs
Career: 129-189, never credited with making the playoffs as a head coach

Luke Walton as a coach is best known for getting the Golden State Warriors off to a 39-4 start during their 2016-17 season, and that made him a hot commodity to be an NBA head coach when the season ended.  Unfortunately, what made him a terrific coaching prospect had only raised people’s expectations of him, and they have set incredibly lofty goals for him only to be disappointed annually.

As a head coach with the Lakers and Kings, Walton has not made a trip to the playoffs, and he was the head coach of a vastly disappointing 2019 Los Angeles Lakers’ team that had LeBron James and still missed the playoffs.  It was unfathomable that the Kings would part ways with Dave Joerger after a pleasantly solid season that exceeded expectations last year, but they did so anyways.

The concern in hiring Luke Walton was that they would look to make a big splash, but that they would miss their mark in firing Joerger and in hiring him, and this season indeed had looked to be the case.  After having finished 39-43 during the 2018-19 season (under Joerger, his last season as a head coach in the NBA), the Sacramento Kings were expected to contend for the 8th seed out in a very tough Western Conference, but they managed to win even less games than the year before (though in ten less games).  Perhaps even worse for them, there are rumors stating that Buddy Hield no longer wants to play for them and wants out, and Walton and the Kings will have to navigate out of the disarray and back towards a positive direction.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head coach of the Sacramento Kings
Projected 2021 rating: 1.5 stars

Sacramento Kings’ 2019-2020 season grade: D

It was very surprising that the Kings fired Dave Joerger, and the concern was whether or not if this move and the Walton hire would actually move the needle forward for the Kings.  Instead, the Kings had another downtrodden, losing season as they were one of the worst teams in the bubble, but the plus side was that they were invited to the Orlando bubble.

They were above average in making threes and rated in the middle of the pack in field goal percentage, and the Kings also did a good job of taking care of the basketball.  However, they will need to improve their scoring and rebounding output, and they will need to improve their defense as a team.  The Kings do have a solid group of young players to work with, and there’s hope that if they continue to progress, that it could yield positive results for the future.

The Sacramento Kings’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C Richaun Holmes
F Nemanja Bjelica
F Harrison Barnes
G Buddy Hield
G De’Aaron Fox

Key Reserves:
G-F Bogdan Bogdanovic* (RFA)
G Cory Joseph
F Jabari Parker
F Marvin Bagley
The 12th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
C Alex Len* (UFA)
C Harry Giles* (UFA)
G Yogi Ferrell* (UFA)
The 35th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
G-F Justin James
G-F DaQuan Jeffries (Two-Way Contract)
G Kyle Guy (Two-Way Contract)
The 43rd overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
The 52nd overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
Bogdan Bogdanovic

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
Alen Len
Harry Giles
Yogi Ferrell
Kent Bazemore
Corey Brewer

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
None

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#12, #35, #43, #52

Projected Offseason Plan for the Kings:

The Kings had a setback year under head coach Luke Walton in 2020.  After winning many more games than anticipated in 2019 under Dave Joerger, the Kings unexpectedly fired him to go with Walton.  Unfortunately, the Kings won just 31 of 72 games, and they were not very good in the Orlando bubble, and they were one of the worst teams there.

On the plus side, they will be building around speedy, playmaking point guard De’Aaron Fox, and they also received a very solid season from center Richaun Holmes.  It is said that Buddy Hield wants out of Sacramento, and so the Kings may look to draft a player to be a potential replacement in case if they cannot coax him to come back and re-join their team.  With their 12th pick, players that may fit that description may be Devin Vassell, R.J. Hampton, Josh Green, and Aaron Nesmith. 

The Kings could also opt to take the best player available, as that player could strengthen their thin bench.   The Kings are pretty capped out, so they may try to bring back most of their players under reasonable contracts, and then go bargain hunting to sign players on minimum contracts.

Expected Regular-Season Record in 2021*: 28-44, 14th in the Western Conference

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: The 2021 Sacramento Kings will try to compete for the 8th seed in the West, but they will likely miss the playoffs in 2021.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72-game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Kings was for them to get 32 wins in an 82-game season.  Also, the projected record does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference, RealGM, and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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