The Sacramento Kings are ready to turn things around this next season and return to the playoff after several years of bad luck. The Californians have an exciting team that will try to show they can compete in the Western Conference.
However, the job won't be easy. They are planning to do big things next campaign, even copying a formula that gave remarkable results to two franchises in recent times. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Kings will try to implement a three-point-guard lineup next season, similar to what we see with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
After Davion Mitchell showed interesting things in the Summer League, the team will try to use the Baylor product alongside second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton and the franchise player, De'Aaron Fox.
In the same sense that the Barnes pick made rival execs wonder about Siakam, this pick had a similar effect among the outside-looking-in crowd when it came to questions about Fox and whether anyone might be able to pry him away now. The Kings, to be clear, still appear to be all in on the 23-year-old who is coming off his best season and whose five-year, $163 million extension kicks in this season.
With questions swirling about whether the 6-foot-2 Mitchell can guard up, so to speak, slowing the 6-5 Bouknight was a great sign. But for the Kings’ purposes, sources say it was his defense of 6-8 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham last season when Baylor faced Oklahoma State that convinced them he could guard bigger talents. And make no mistake, that kind of defense was nowhere to be found in a Kings game last season when they had the league’s worst unit on that end.
These good performances opened a new door for the Kings. They can use the three guards on the floor without thinking of Mitchell as a defensive liability.
Mitchell is showing an ability to produce on the other end too, having averaged 11.3 points (47.5 percent overall, 50 percent from 3) and 5.5 assists in Vegas for the undefeated Kings (4-0). And to hear Kings officials tell it, they’re optimistic about the idea of routinely running three-guard lineups.
During McNair’s time in Houston, where he worked under Daryl Morey in the Rockets front office before he headed for Philadelphia and alongside then-Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni on the analytics front, the James Harden-Chris Paul-Eric Gordon lineup was a regular part of the Rockets’ routine as they contended for a title. That trend continued with Paul after he was traded to Oklahoma City, as the Thunder’s three-point-guard lineup of Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schröder was the league’s best three-man lineup in the 2019-20 season.
This, in other words, is the kind of vision the Kings have in mind. Sure, both of those lineups included all-time greats like Paul and Harden. But you get the … point.
This strategy worked in the past at different levels. The Rockets spent a couple of seasons being the biggest competitors for the Golden State Warriors, even getting one game away from playing in the Finals.
As for the Thunder, they reached the playoff in the bubble when nobody expected anything from them. This experiment worked in the past, but it remains to be seen if a team like the Kings can pull this off, too.
They are ready to make a statement in the West, and this year can be the right time to achieve their goal.