Will this be the season in which the longest-suffering NBA franchise finally gets its act together? The Sacramento Kings are on the longest Play-off drought in the league right now, something they're out to end.
The Kings haven't featured in the postseason since 2006. That incredible wait means there isn't an active player across any current NBA roster who has played for the Kings in a Play-off game.
It is largely their poor decision-making that has brought them to this point. However, this summer's understated moves suggest that things might finally be turning around for the Kings.
|What:||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where:||USA and Canada|
|When:||18th October 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch:||ESPN and NBA TV|
|Odds:||GS Warriors 6/1, MIL Bucks 13/2, BOS Celtics 7/1, LA Clippers 7/1, BKN Nets 7/1|
While it's hard to predict potential, the Kings have missed so many great players in the draft that it can't be just luck. Since 2009 Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker were on the board and missed by the Kings when they drafted. In 2018, they ignored the much-hyped Luka Donicic, picking Marvin Bagley instead.
However, selecting Keegan Murray with the fourth pick in 2022 was a great move by the Kings. He's a presence at both ends of the floor, as shown at summer league where he won MVP. He averaged 23 points per game in Vegas and he should quickly settle into a starting forward role.
After his impressive turn at summer league, he stands out as a great Rookie of the Year candidate. Murray is 11/2 to win that award and unlike the players drafted around him, he'll be starting for a team with Play-in ambitions. It's hard to win ROTY without playing on a decent team, while his defensive ability on top of his scoring threat marks him out.
The Kings should look to play through De'Aaron Fox once again this season, a fantastic point guard who is on his way towards becoming an All-Star. However, the front office has managed to get him some support in the offseason.
Guard Malik Monk arrives after a great season with the Lakers last term, while the Kings traded very little to land perimeter threat Kevin Huerter from the Atlanta Hawks. Those two will rotate as secondary guard beside Fox, each complimenting him in slightly different ways.
Fox, 24, has consistently averaged above 20 points per game across the last three seasons, but there's room for him to step up this term, so long as their new coach can get the fit right.
While things are looking better for the Kings, it isn't long since their Play-off desperation caused them to make one of the worst trades in recent memory. They surrendered the current 17/2 favourite for Most Improved Player in Tyrese Haliburton, swapping him for Domantas Sabonis.
They traded a high-prospect, playmaking guard for a big man who doesn't fit into their side. New coach Mike Brown needs to find a way to get Sabonis involved in a side that rely on a lot of guard and wing play.
However, the former Golden State Warriors assistant made the postseason six times during spells with Cleveland and the Lakers, so he should get more out of this side than Luke Walton did in his spell.
Sabonis is an All-Star and a serious offensive threat, but questions over him defensively and last season's slump from a career-best season in 2020/21 look concerning.
The Kings get their season off to a tricky start, although their home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers is an opportunity to justify their Play-in hopes.
After that, it's the LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat. With that run, new coach Mike Brown could get off to a slow start.
In classic Kings fashion, it feels like they've sorted themselves out a year too late. Last season saw the New Orleans Pelicans sneak into the Play-offs, as did the Minnesota Timberwolves. Those two teams return with stronger rosters this season.
The Kings are likely to be better than they were last season. Having them priced behind two tanking teams in the Utah Jazz and OKC Thunder at 150/1 to win the Western Conference seems harsh, but ultimately it's hard to see anything better than tenth and a Play-in exit for them, which would at least be progress.