The Sacramento Kings have a young core that can compete for prime playoff positions in the foreseeable future. After flipping DeMarcus Cousins only two and a half years ago, they have fully rebuilt the roster. They now have a core of young pieces that with continued improvement can be one of the best teams in the western conference.
What could hold back the Kings from contending is blowing their cap space on mediocre free agents. Harrison Barnes, DeWayne Dedmon and Cory Joseph are all strong players in their own right. But by overpaying slightly for this crop, Kings management may have limited their future flexibility. Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic need to get paid next year, with De’Aaron Fox then Marvin Bagley in the following years. Looking at market rates, Buddy Hield will probably command around 20 million while De’Aaron Fox will be a max player if he improves again this year.
They already have a young core that is cheap. Bagley, Harry Giles, Bogdanovic, Hield and Fox could form a potential starting five that can score while having defensive upside. This five should form the backbone of the team while taking up most of the payroll. Thankfully all the deals signed this summer bar Harrison Barnes were only for two years. Some had third years but these were non-guaranteed. If Barnes is the long term small forward then that could leave Bogdanovic as the glorified sixth man. Bringing him off the bench with Joseph and Giles would form a strong second unit.
Moving past the payroll they will now look to get maximum value out of their signings. If DeWayne Dedmon can continue to improve his stretch abilities, he is a legitimate two way center for the Kings. Per Cleaning the Glass, Dedmon ranked in the top 20% of centers last year on three point volume and accuracy.
While Cory Joseph had a down year scoring wise in the regular season, he picked his game up in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Joseph is an excellent defender who will provide a great foil to Fox either off the bench or playing alongside him for defensive stops. Harrison Barnes is now in his prime, and needs to show he is worth the 20 million a year paid to him. Barnes corner three percentage was an elite 45% for all of last year, while also posting a career high 2.3 makes a game from three point land. If he can get to the rim more, he can be an efficient two-way player.
Kings fans should be excited about the growth of De’Aaron Fox. Fox took a massive step forward in year two, showing flashes of All-Star level play. Not only did he shoot 37% from three, he ranked in the top 1% of point guards in getting to the line. His aggressive defense and athletic play bode well for a massive future in the league.
Marvin Bagley will be looking to take a similar step forward in his second year in the league. The number two pick in last years draft, Bagley averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds post the All-Star break last season. He also shot 40% from three in this period. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up this 20 and 10 play through next season.
If the Kings continue to develop their young guys they have the pieces to be a front runner in the west. How they spend their cap space in free agency will decide the structure of the team over the next five years. The first goal should be to make it back to the playoffs for the first in 14 years. This will go a long way towards making it a more attractive destination for free agents.