We have a second chance at this.
Once the Buddy Hield Bandwagon learned of our destination at last June’s NBA Draft, we fully expected to be entrenched in the New Orleans for the foreseeable future. This relationship seemed destined to last, built upon a strong bedrock of disingenuous pandering. There was the open flirtation between the Bahamas and the Pelicans’ social media team, we bought tons of Pelicans jersey and paraphernalia all backed by the promise from the front office that Buddy would have a shot at replicating the magic of his tenure at Oklahoma. It was all a lie, like all great young relationships that have no hope of lasting. The Pelicans had no plans for us…or Buddy. Limited by ridiculously low or inconsistent playing time and clearly not in the long-term plans of Alvin Gentry or the Pelicans staff, Buddy was traded to Sacramento.
Sure we felt unwanted and used at first, but now we’re not even mad at you New Orleans. We got over that breakup and now we’re on to so much more. Our bandwagon is thriving, Buddy found himself (and his shot) in Sacramento. He looked more comfortable, his game diversified and the analytics supported it. This, we will find ourselves as fans…
The Youth Movement is Entertaining
After the Kings exorcised the demons of the DeMarcus Cousins era – Vivek Ranadive, Vlade Divac, Dave Joeger and the rest of the Kings front office committed to seeing exactly what they had in their young assets. Willie Trill Cauley-Stein, Skal Labisierre and Buddy all saw extensive minutes down the stretch like all teams eliminated from playoff contention should do in this situation. What seems like a noble, revolutionary idea is only the most obvious thing in the world for any franchise to do – If you’re going to lose anyway, play the people that need to get the reps and the development to ensure that you don’t lose forever. What made this plan stand out was that the youth movement was as productive as it was entertaining.
In 25 games for the Kings, Hield made 18 starts and averaged 15.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and 42 percent shooting from three-point range. He diversified his offensive portfolio seemingly overnight and a study of the analytics suggest that he was much more that the spot up shooter the Pelicans limited him to being.
Skal was expected to a long term project but turned out to a pleasant surprise averaged 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 53.7% from the floor. His skill set that was a knock on him in college transitioned surprisingly well to the NBA at a pace quicker than everyone expected.
Willie Trill became your standard explosive rim-running, pick and roll finishing, shot blocking, high volume rebounding big man everyone wants on today’s NBA roster. Think DeAndre Jordan with a better nickname…and from a better school. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, but his production skyrocketed in the post-Cousins era with increased playing time and at the five spot.
Rudy Gay will hit free agency while guys like Darren Collison, Aaron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver and Garrett Temple were all pretty much stop gap solutions. The young core has no choice but to play even more minutes and hopefully with that will come skill maturation and a winning culture.
More important than the numbers on the board, the group was fun to watch and it’ll only get better with our second point….
The 2017 Lottery
The Kings have been the punchline in California for nearly two decades now as a symbol of mismanagement. Actually, the Clippers hold the title as the punchline in California, the Kings have been such an afterthought that most people forget the state has a third basketball team.
The Kings have mired in mediocrity (or worse) for far too long to be considered a destination for free agents, so their only recourse is the slow build through the draft – much like the team currently dominating the NBA. The Kings can come out of this draft with two quality starters and possibly an All-Star if they do something we haven’t been accustomed to seeing them do in recent years – nail their draft picks. Sacramento currently holds the No. 5 and No. 10 picks in the draft. The stars have aligned perfectly for the Kings to add the missing pieces to complete their your core. It just so happens that the two strongest positions in this draft are the two most glaring needs on the Kings roster – point guard and small forward.
If the Kings stay at No.5, they’ll have the opportunity to emerge from the draft with one of several elite point guards – Markelle Fultz (no chance), Lonzo Ball (probably not) De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr or Frank Ntilikina. If they go small forward first, there’s the opportunity to take Josh Jackson (no chance), Jayson Tatum or Jonathan Issac. There’s also a chance they reach out of position and go with the “best talent available” approach and take either Lauri Markkanen or Malik Monk. Either way there’s no room for error here, we need both of these picks to be contributors immediately.
Update: The Kings landed an impressive haul from the draft, led by Fox. The rookie class was rounded out by Justin Jackson, Frank Mason III and Harry Giles.
A Haitian and a Bahamian
There’s no other team in the league with a more iron-clad Caribbean connection. As if having Buddy wasn’t enough the Kings also have Labissierre, the “Haitian Sensation.” Both share common hard luck stories and an unusual path to the NBA, both came in as rookies and on the court, their games complement each other well. The most interesting thing to watch in this bromance will be whether Buddy can get Skal to listen to any reggae songs other than Bob Marley.
Baby blue throwbacks have been scientifically proven to be the best throwback jerseys, irrespective of sport and the Kings jerseys from the 1985-90 era top their list of throwbacks (don’t at me). The Kings most popular jerseys that you saw in every rap video during the late 1990s also have an added twist by placing the last names under the numbers rather than the standard place across the shoulders.
Even the Royals throwbacks are clean, complete with the residue of bitter resent toward 1960s establishment left by the spirit of the Big O. God Bless you Oscar Robertson.
White Chocolate Nostalgia
I just needed an excuse to post a gratuitous amount of Jason Williams highlights.
J-Will came along at a time when not much people had a reason to tune in Kings games. On the court, he brought a flair to the game that coincided with the rise in popularity of streetball and the AND 1 Mixtape Tour. The juxtaposition of his look and his style of play made fans interested, and as a pass-first point guard, he was exactly what the Kings needed during that era.
He had problems scaling back those tendencies and was eventually traded to Memphis for Mike Bibby. In Memphis, he bought into Hubie’s Brown’s system after hearing “I mean c’mon” for the 7 millionth time and was a stabilising force for the Miami Heat by the time we won a championship with the team in 2006.
Also…he’s still snatching souls and ankle ligaments at local rec leagues in Orlando.
The Bahamian King Fans Diaspora Returns
I knew legitimate Kings fans during the late 1990s early 2000s. They were an actual thing back then…gone the way of the 99 cent breakfast. I don’t know where you people went, but it may be safe to return.
Geoff Petrie was the architect behind creating one of the most successful and entertaining teams of that era. The particular edition of the Kings that won over many Bahamian basketball fans featured Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac, Doug Christie with Hedo Turkoglu, Bobby Jackson, Scott Pollard and a young Gerald Wallace off the bench. Divac was a part of that run and now he’s in Petrie’s spot as an executive, trying to replicate the formula. Those Kings teams were loaded with talent, a fast-paced style based on ball movement and out shooting everyone they were matched up against.
What really brought this team to the forefront of the casual fan’s consciousness was a four-year rivalry with the Lakers that was one of the best in the league during that era. The Lakers won every series, but the drama surrounding the teams had everything we needed – trash talks, fights, game winners, legacy-defining games, but most importantly of all for any sports fan something we get to argue about for the rest of time….
The Greatest Conspiracy Theory in the NBA
Just watch and lament…