Kings News: ESPN’s early screenings and offseason grades are in

Kings News: ESPN's early screenings and offseason grades are in

Based off the moves the Sacramento Kings have made so far this off season, their fans seem to be feeling pretty optimistic about the forthcoming season. They hired a new coaching staff and added a lot of new talent to the roster. All great things. But, how does the rest of the basketball world see this season playing out for Sacramento?

First, let’s take a look at their offseason grade compared to the rest of their peers in the Western Conference.

According to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, the Sacramento Kings earned a solid ‘B’ grade. Not great, but also not bad. They received a better grade than seven other teams in the West and the same grade as both the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder.

One take Pelton made that was very interesting was that he believes Donte Divincenzo is better than both Kevin Hurter and Malik Monk and that letting him walk will be a mistake.

Divincenzo played well for the Kings and was a fan favorite last season. However, he is older than both Huerter and Monk and has neither the upside of Huerter nor the priceless bond Monk has with Fox. It is also very unlikely that Sacramento would have been able to sign him for the same deal he got in Golden State.

If Pelton were to take a look back on this grade during the season, a positive change would certainly be made.

With the offseason in mind, and how their competition has also changed, what will the Kings record look like by the end of the year?

Pelton predicted that the Kings will finish the season as the 11th seed with a record of 34-48. Not the prediction the fans were hoping for, or agree with. However, he did say that it is a rational thought for people to believe the Kings will end their playoff drought which is “reaching driving age.”

That leaves the Kings as the one team projected outside the top 10 actively hoping to finish in that group. With Sacramento’s playoff drought (16 seasons and counting) reaching driving age, even a play-in appearance would be cause for celebration in California’s capital.

There’s reason to believe this could be the Kings’ year. They’ll get a full season with Domantas Sabonis after acquiring the two-time All-Star before the trade deadline and adding shooting in the backcourt with newcomers Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk to complement Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. Most importantly, No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray impressed this summer, winning MVP honors for the NBA summer league in Las Vegas.

If Sacramento jumps into the play-in and the other four teams in this group enter the lottery in prime position, it’s possible everyone could be satisfied with this season.

One of the reasons many people find it hard to believe the Kings will end the drought is the level of competition just in their division. The Pacific Division is home to the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Sunsand the Los Angeles Lakers.

This division is outright the strongest in the entire NBA and each team will cause problems for each other. The Kings play each team four times for a total of 16 games, 20% of the entire season.

Each of these four teams is not only a title contender, but has at least one player capable of walking home with the MVP award this season. The craziest part is that the weakest team of the four still has a duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The odds are simply not in Sacramento’s favor. However, it is far too early to lose hope for the Kings.

Sports are unpredictable. No matter what the evidence may look like, things can literally change in seconds. One play can make all the difference. Hopefully, the Kings have built the team capable of making that play.

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