Long-suffering Kings fans are back on the hopium, and since 2006 was the last time we witnessed playoff basketball in Sacramento, who can blame them? But after February’s blockbuster trade, an outstanding Summer League performance from their first round pick, and a pair of free agent guard acquisitions, there is a sense that the optimism is warranted. On paper, the Kings have a more focused roster built around the playmaking abilities of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. They get a fresh start to a season after shedding players who didn’t want to be there – Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III. They have arguably more depth with Richaun Holmes shifting to the bench, Malik Monk playing significant minutes off the pine, and Davion Mitchell continuing to develop. They have a new head coach in Mike Brown who will seek pull them out of the bottom half of the defensive rankings. This time may be different…
On the fantasy front, there are a number of questions looming after the shakeups of the last eight months. Here are some factors to consider when you’re looking at the boys in purple and black:
- Depth Chart
|Center||Power Forward||Small Forward||Shooting Guard||Point Guard|
|Domantas Sabonis||Keegan Murray||Harrison Barnes||Kevin Huerter||De’Aaron Fox|
|Richaun Holmes||Trey Lyles||Terence Davis||Malik Monk||Davion Mitchell|
- 2021-22 Record: 30-52
- Key Arrivals: Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk
- Key Departures: Donte DiVincenzo, Justin Holiday, Josh Jackson, Damian Jones, Jeremy Lamb
- Low-Volume Game Days (games played on days with fewer than five matchups across the league): 10
- Back to back sets: 15
- 2021-22 Pace Ranking: 8th
- Domantas Sabonis: The big man’s finish to last season was reassuring, as he didn’t skip a beat after being traded. His assists ticked up in his 15 appearances for the Kings (+0.6 per game) versus his 47 games with the Pacers, and it’s likely he’ll continue as the secondary creator behind Fox in Sactown. I have my doubts that he’ll return to 2020-21 form, when career highs in assists and steals catapulted him into the top 30 for 9-cat formats. Regression in both areas (minus 1.5 and 0.2 per game respectively) weighed him down last season. The scarcity of passing big men cannot be ignored, however, so he he’ll be a hot commodity in drafts across all formats.
- De’Aaron Fox: The perennial issues are free-throw shooting and underwhelming three-point production. With Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield out of the way, we saw Fox put up big numbers in March. Will he pick up where he left off before being shut down, or will he have another slow start to the season? The answer to that question will likely be the difference between Fox being a top-40 or top-80 nine-category league prospect.
- Harrison Barnes: Out of all the Kings in this write up, Barnes is reportedly most likely to be traded. That being said, his strengths and weaknesses are fairly set in stone as long as he’s a starting forward: a slightly above average scorer, three-point shooter, and rebounder (16.4 / 1.8 / 5.6 in 2021-22) who won’t hurt category league managers in percentages. On the flip side, he’ll be characteristically abysmal in defensive stats.
- Keegan Murray: The starting four position should be his to lose after a string of 20+ point performances in the summer league. It’s difficult to figure out where he’ll be prioritized in the offense initially (i.e. third or fourth option), but he has the opportunity to contribute rebounds, D stats, and solid FG% right away. If he can come anywhere close to the 3.2 stocks he averaged last year at Iowa, he should achieve the rare 1/1/1 feat as a rookie.
- Kevin Huerter: Having recently been a starter on a winning team, Huerter is expected to assume the lead two guard role in Sacramento. The biggest factor in his fantasy value is his steals rate. Will we see the Huerter who averaged 1.2 steals in 2020-21, or the version that plummeted to 0.7 steals across 74 games last season? I assume he’ll land somewhere in the middle, which would make him a solid late round pick in 12-team leagues as a guy who will put up boring but effective production in every category besides boards and blocks.
- Malik Monk: Capping last season off with a 41-point performance, Monk showed flashes of being the offensive juggernaut many of us thought he would be when he entered the league. Regardless of whether he earns the starting job or plays a key bench role, there is a good opportunity for Monk to enter top-100 territory in category formats by building on last season’s foundation of efficient scoring and three point production.
- Davion Mitchell: While the Pacers trade demonstrated a commitment to De’Aaron Fox as the leading man, it also showed that the Kings are impressed with Mitchell. They particularly value his effort on defense, which was almost entirely lacking across the rest of the squad in 2021-22. His numbers don’t reflect this strength, unfortunately, as he only posted 0.7 steals per game in 27.7 MPG. The other items to watch will be his efficiency from the field and line. While he should play enough minutes to be a fantasy asset, his performance in those three categories (steals, FG%, FT%) will determine whether he’s a mainstay on a 12-team roster or just a constant streaming candidate.
- Richaun Holmes: The top-50 season run, like the bubble chicken wing incident, is now a rapidly fading memory as Holmes lines up behind Sabonis. However, he should enter this season with a clearer head after a judge found him not guilty of domestic violence charges. Getting more than 20 MPG will be crucial to reviving his fantasy value from where it plunged to at the end of last season.
- Terence Davis: Since he went down for the season in late January, we never got to see his role after the lineup reshuffle. He’ll likely remain a useful streamer for threes and steals with some scoring upside.
Hit me up in the comments with any questions or feedback!