The Sacramento Kings are hoping to finally see some results from their seemingly never-ending rebuild this season.
Last season's 30-52 finish continued the longest active postseason drought in the NBA. The Kings haven't finished with a record above .500 or made the playoffs since 2006.
However, things are finally looking up for Sacramento after a few key offseason additions. It selected promising power forward Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick in the draft, and he proceeded to have a dominant showing at the 2022 Summer League in Las Vegas.
Sacramento also bolstered its backcourt by acquiring shooting guard Kevin Huerter and signing sixth man Malik Monk to a two-year deal.
The addition of Monk reunites him with star point guard and former Kentucky teammate De'Aaron Fox. With two-time All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis as the team's anchor, Sacramento has a roster that should be competitive in 2022-23.
Here's a look at the schedule the Kings will be up against this season.
2022-23 Kings Schedule Details
Season Opener: Oct. 19 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Championship Odds: 420-1 (FanDuel)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
Oklahoma City Thunder (First game: Jan. 20)
The Kings haven't enjoyed consistent success against other teams across the league, but the Oklahoma City Thunder are an outlier.
Sacramento has bested Oklahoma City in six of their last seven matchups, including three out of four in 2021-22. For a team like the Kings, every win is crucial, so it's imperative to take down the few opponents they're expected to defeat.
The Thunder went 24-58 last year and are in the middle of their own rebuild. They had the No. 2 pick this year and selected center Chet Holmgren, who is regarded as having the highest ceiling in his draft class.
Sacramento isn't likely to be favored against many other teams this year, but in the three scheduled games against Oklahoma City, the underdog team won't be wearing purple and black.
Winning the games you're supposed to win is a testament to a team's development, so the Kings should put forth their best effort when they face the Thunder.
Los Angeles Lakers (First game: Nov. 11)
Yes, this is a matchup between two vastly different teams. The Kings are desperate to see some sort of improvement this season, while the Los Angeles Lakers have hopes of contending for an NBA title.
While Sacramento might be overmatched on paper, the teams split the four-game regular-season series in 2021-22, which included a thrilling triple-overtime victory for the Kings in November.
Los Angeles is entering a new era under first-year head coach Darvin Ham and will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing finish to last year. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook were expected to be the most potent trio in the NBA, but instead, the team suffered from chemistry issues and various injuries.
The Lakers will be favored to get past the Kings without much resistance, but Sacramento shouldn't be disregarded so easily.
Rivalry games always carry some extra juice, so it should be expected that the Kings will raise their level of play in its four matchups against L.A.
The Kings are a team with low expectations, but they could surprise some opponents this season.
On paper, their roster is deeper than last year's and has a solid blend of youth and experience. Under new head coach Mike Brown, who just won a championship as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, the Kings should be more prepared to compete every night.
Fox will be the engine that has to drive the team to success this year.
The 24-year-old regressed slightly last season, averaging 23.2 points and 5.6 assists while shooting 29.7 percent from beyond the arc; in 2020-21 he averaged 25.2 points and 7.2 assists with 32.2 percent from three-point range. The Kings will need him to play more efficiently this time around, especially with better pieces surrounding him.
Sacramento's frontcourt should be the strength of the team. Murray will be playing alongside veterans in Sabonis and Harrison Barnes, so the rookie's learning curve shouldn't be too steep. The Kings also have a strong bench rotation with veterans Jeremy Lamb, Trey Lyles and Richaun Holmes set to lead the second unit.
The 2022-23 season will not be easy, but Sacramento should fare better against the competition thanks to its influx of talent and a new coaching regime.
Record Prediction: 38-44
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