August 14, 2017, 10:55 pm
A player who has never touched NBA hardwood in a regular season game, two second-year talents and the most-tenured player on the roster who has been in Sacramento for two seasons. Those are the Kings choices for being the face of the franchise; a franchise that hasn’t seen a 40-win season since 2006, by the way.
However, there’s a ton of upside for the Kings, who last season finished with the 12th best record in the Western Conference. That was proven when ESPN mentioned Sacramento as being a potential super-team in the future. The article explains that the Kings followed the Warriors steps to success by building through the draft.
The Kings have stacked a ton of young potential by drafting well and loading up on draft picks the past two seasons. Three of those have been first-round picks and they added a first-round draft pick in Hield via trade.
When it comes to Fox, he made it clear from the get-go that he wants to be the leader on a Kings team that hadn’t bet on a franchise point guard since Mike Bibby. Fox’s speed will make him a tough defend for even the best defensive guards and while he only played one season at Kentucky, he proved to be a leader on a team filled with NBA talent.
In 36 games with the Wildcats, Fox averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a score-first playmaking point guard. The transition to the NBA, though, is an obvious mystery at this point in time.
Hield was a first-round selection for the Pelicans just two picks prior to the Kings drafting Marquese Chriss, whom they traded for two selections, Georgios Papagiannis and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He was the main trade-chip in the deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans during the All-Star break last season, so it’s obvious he’d be in the conversation as the face of the franchise.
In 25 games with the Kings, Hield averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in just under 30 minutes per game. He showed tremendous shooting ability as he knocked down more than two 3-pointers per game on 42.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Labissiere was a surprise for some Kings fans. Through 57 games, the Haitian had only made appearances in seven contests and only one of those times did he play more than 10 minutes. So when Labissiere, who fell to the Kings at the No. 28 slot in the 2016 draft finally got a chance to play, he made the most of it.
Though Labissiere’s plus/minus is a drastic difference in games where he was a reserve (+1.4) or starter (-8.3), there’s such a small sample-size that it’s almost unfair to critique. To those who watched many Kings games, Labissiere’s ability to make plays on offense and defense while utilizing his athleticism and extended reach was a sight for sore eyes.
In his short season with Sacramento, his most impressive statistical lines came in games where he played 20-29 minutes, according to Basketball Reference. In six games (two starts) where he played that amount of time, he averaged 14.5 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes per game. He also had a plus-minus of +6.8 and his lowest defensive rating of 105.
As for Cauley-Stein, he has the biggest shoes to fill as he was slotted in the starting center role when three-time All-Star Cousins was traded midseason. He may very well have the most untapped of potential among the four. His first start of the 2016-17 season came seven days after Cousins was traded and he started 20 of the last 22 games remaining in the season.
As a starter, Cauley-Stein averaged 13 points and just under nine rebounds in 31 minutes per game. He also averaged just under a block per game, which is something he’d have to improve on as the team’s starting big. Offensively, he showed signs of improvement from his rookie year and on Feb. 23, just days removed from the Cousins trade, he exploded for a career-high 29 points. However, his career night was followed by a two-point game just two days later.
In addition to the prospective upside the team has come a multitude of what-ifs. Of the top-four paid players with the Kings, three will more than likely not be on the roster in two years. The fourth, Bogdanovic, hasn’t played even a Summer League game in the NBA.
While the Kings’ direction has become more clear in the past couple of years, it will be interesting to see which of these players is the guy the franchise attaches itself to the most.