If you’re an NBA fan living in California and looking for a team to support, you have only one respectable option. Choosing to root for the Golden State Warriors or the Los Angeles Lakers is boring and morally questionable. You know you’re going to get success and a playoff run, as well as a title for the Warriors. Also, everyone hates you.
The Los Angeles Clippers are a goofy team with an interesting history of failure as well as limited and unfulfilling success, but they’re still not that compelling of an option. They’re also going to try and import max free agents next summer, a black mark on any self-respecting NBA fan’s soul.
This leaves us with the Sacramento Kings, the NBA’s ultimate buy-low opportunity. There’s no ground floor lower than 12 years of no playoff appearances and constant mockery by other fans, analysts and even players. It can’t get worse than it already is, probably.
In fact, it’s likely going to get better. After years of depressing dead-end rosters, the Kings finally have a team of exciting young talent. Second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox, possibly the quickest player in the NBA, got a jump shot in the offseason and looked like a real-life point guard in preseason. The Kings haven’t had one of those since they traded Isaiah Thomas for Alex Oriakhi, who currently plays in Mexico.
Marvin Bagley III was the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NBA draft and could be a franchise big man with his incredible bounce and touch around the rim. He can’t really use his right hand on offense and is so bad at defense that Duke had to revamp its entire system for him, but it was definitely still smart to pick Bagley over Luka Doncic, 19-year-old reigning Euroleague MVP.
The sleeper young talent, however, is Harry Giles. The 20th pick of the 2017 NBA draft, Giles was the top-rated high school player in a recruiting class that included Jayson Tatum and Lonzo Ball, but multiple knee surgeries on both knees cut his sole season at Duke short and pushed him down in the draft.
The Kings played it safe last season and kept Giles on the shelf all year, but news came out around the All-Star Break that he was dominating practices. We’ve seen him play in Summer League and preseason now, and he’s lived up to the hype.
He’s still athletic with ball skills and a point guard’s passing vision, all of which are reasons he was billed as a new-age Chris Webber in high school. He’s got a jump shot, too, which means he’s a ball-handling seven-footer who can rebound, pass] and knock down threes. He’s also a pretty good defender, if you’re into that.
A quick heads up: When you become a Kings fan, you also have to become a devout Harry Giles apostle. You’ll notice every Kings fan online is devoted to spreading the word of Giles. He’s that good, and we also haven’t had a reason to hope for so long.
Fox, Bagley and Giles make for a good young core, along with a supporting cast of players like Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Frank Mason. The team won’t be good this year, but they’ll certainly be fun and interesting to watch.
Speaking of which, I should mention how bad they’re going to be this year. It’s important to me that you know what you’re signing up for as a Sacramento Kings fan. They’re going to be the worst or second worst team in the Western Conference and one of the five worst teams in the league.