It will have been nearly 6,200 days since their last playoff game. That was on May 5, 2006. It had been no less than 17 years since Sacramento had reached the playoffs. It was the worst streak in NBA history and the longest active postseason drought among U.S. professional teams. Now, that dubious NBA honor belongs to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Kings crushed the Portland Trail Blazers 80-120 to end that dismal run. De’Aaron Fox scored 18 points, Kevin Huerter put in 17 and Domantas Sabonis finished with 15 plus 12 rebounds. When Sacramento played that last playoff game, the first was eight, the second had turned seven and the third, 10. Just to put their team’s ranking in perspective.
“We want to do bigger things, but 16 years is a long time. We feel great that we were able to get that out of the way,” said a relieved Fox, who sees his team third in the Western Conference behind only the Denver Nuggets and the until Thursday’s in-form Memphis Grizzlies.
After averaging 13 points, 5.3 assists and three rebounds in his first year, Haliburton kept up the pace during his sophomore season and recorded a career-high 38 points and 17 assists early into his second year.
However, the Kings began to have concerns over his long-term fit with Fox in their backcourt and a subsequent blockbuster trade sent Haliburton to the Pacers.
Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson followed the guard to the Hoosier State with Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, a 2023 second-round pick and, most importantly, Sabonis heading to California.
Speaking to The Athletic shortly after his trade, it seemed that the 7-foot-1-inch star knew there were good things waiting for the Kings.
Sabonis said: “They brought me here, and we want to change things, you know?
“It’ll be a lot of fun. It’s just little by little, I think we’re doing great things and going in the right direction. We’re gonna have a big summer – we’ve been talking about it. And then we’ll have a good training camp and get all the people together, you know?”
All change in the off-season
After a dismal start to the 2021/22 season, Luke Walton was fired from his role as the Kings’ head coach. Walton was replaced by veteran coach Alvin Gentry on an interim basis and upon the completion of the campaign, the 68-year-old was also let go.
The Kings then appointed the associate head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Mike Brown, as their new head coach before the start of the 2022/23 season.
Brown had just won an NBA championship with the Warriors after a finals win against the Boston Celtics, and was tasked with bringing some of his winning know-how to Sactown.
Along with Brown, guard/forward Kevin Huerter and shooting guard Malik Monk became key pieces for the Kings and No. 4 draft pick Murray also joined up with the squad.
It is no surprise that the arrival of these pieces has coincided with the overhaul of the Kings’ offense.
Since moving to the West Coast, Huerter and Murray are shooting over six threes a game, and both are draining shots from deep at over 40%.
Monk is just slightly behind the pair in terms of three-pointers attempted (3PA) and three-point percentage (3P%) but helps demonstrate how far this Kings offense has come and the planning that went into building the squad.
The Kings ranked 21st in terms of three-point attempts-per-game last season while also shooting from deep at a 24th-rated 34.4%.
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