With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we're dedicating one day to each team in the league.
After looking at the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week, we're shifting our Pacific Division focus to the Sacramento Kings.
2017-18 season record
27-55 (12th in the Western Conference)
Projected 2018-19 season record
25.5 wins (last in the Western Conference)
Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft)
Nemanja Bjelica (free agency)
Yogi Ferrell (free agency)
Ben McLemore (trade)
Vince Carter (free agency)
Garrett Temple (trade)
3 key storylines
Marvin Bagley's ROY campaign
Sacramento has a ton of young players that are working on developing their game, but they're looking for Bagley to become the franchise player. The Duke product averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game in his one collegiate season, showcasing a wide range of skills on the offensive end.
While Bagley didn't have the best Summer League performance, averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, the rookie only participated in four games before being shut down with a pelvic bone bruise. Playing for a team that is projected to win 25 games, he'll have plenty of opportunities to prove he can be Rookie of the Year and become the face of the franchise.
Figuring out their young talent
The Kings have stockpiled assets through the draft the past few years, with nine of the 15 players currently on the roster beginning their NBA career in 2015 or later.
This is unique because it has allowed a lot of their young talent to get a lot more playing time than usual at the start of their careers. They have seen bright spots in players like Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, De'Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic, but they're still waiting to see what they can get out of Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles, Justin Jackson and Frank Mason III.
With all those rookie contracts on the books, the Kings have the lowest salary cap in the NBA. They've seen enough action on these guys to know who they will and will not want to pay once contracts start to expire.
Continued emergence of Bogdan Bogdanovic
In his first year as an NBA player, Bogdanovic was fantastic. In roughly 28 minutes per game, the Kings rookie averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds on his way to an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection.
What stood out in particular was how efficient Bogdanovic was shooting the ball. In 9.9 field goal attempts per game, Bogdanovic cashed in on 44.6 percent of his shots from the field and 39.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Bogdanovic's rise is certainly not a coincidence. He has played professionally overseas since he was 18-years-old, winning multiple championships in various professional leagues, most notably the EuroLeague championship in 2017 before he joined the Kings. He won the EuroLeague Rising Star award in 2014 and 2015 as well, and was voted All-EuroLeague First Team in 2017.
Bogdanovic is expected to miss 4-6 weeks following a recent knee procedure, but the Kings will be in good shape if he continues to improve.
5 games to watch
Oct. 21 at Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook is Fox's favorite player, so the matchup between the two will be highlighted going forward in his career.
Last year, Westbrook took two of the three games against Fox. He averaged 18.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists against his understudy. Fox averaged 11 points and seven assists in the three matchups, posting a double-double in their last battle.
Trying to stop Westbrook is not an easy task for anyone in the league, never mind a rookie. As a second-year player, Fox will look to get the best of Russ for the first time in his young career.
Nov. 10 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Fox vs. Lonzo Ball has been a must-watch matchup since their days at Kentucky and UCLA. The last time the two met, Fox lit up Ball and UCLA for 39 points in the NCAA Tournament. Since then, whether it was Summer League, the preseason or regular season, Ball has missed the matchup due to minor injuries. It has become somewhat of a running joke that Ball is afraid to face Fox, so this should be a good battle between the two.
Dec. 4 at Phoenix Suns
DeAndre Ayton was selected with the first overall pick over his high school teammate Bagley. Prior to the draft, Ayton stated, "I definitely believe I am the number one pick," and Bagley did not take that comment lightly. He fired back saying, "It's disrespectful and I use it as drive every single day. At the end of the day, this is all talk right now. Eventually we'll have to go on the court and we'll have to play. That's where all the talking ends."
With this being the first regular season matchup between the top two draft picks, both rookies will be able to back up the talking they did this offseason.
Dec. 10 at Chicago Bulls
This will be the first time that former college teammates Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. will face off against each other in the league.
Carter Jr. was selected five picks after Bagley after being overshadowed by him for the majority of their college careers. It will be interesting to see how the two compete against each other for the first time in a real game since going at it in practices in college.
Dec. 16 at Dallas Mavericks
This is a big game for the Kings' franchise as a whole after passing on Luka Dončić in the 2018 NBA Draft. Bagley will need to bring his A-game and prove that he was worthy of the number two pick over Dončić.
Also, Yogi Ferrell will look to get back at the Mavericks for withdrawing their qualifying offer on his contract this offseason.
Nothing like a few NBA players playing with a vengeance.