Most of the talk, regionally and nationally, claim that the Sacramento Kings did not do much of anything in the offseason to improve. I BEG to differ! Since the 2020-21 NBA trade deadline and during this offseason, I think the Kings have made moves to improve, with the ultimate goal of making the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
One of those groups that have improved this offseason is the Kings group of ‘big men‘. Big man play has been one major ‘missing link’ in Sacramento’s success since the days of DeMarcus Cousins, maybe even back to Brad Miller.
It may not seem like it to some, but the Sacramento Kings have been working this offseason to put themselves in a position to break their 15-year playoff-less streak. The improved big man group will play a key role in the Kings success this season.
BIG Moves in SacTown
One of the highlights of the offseason and going forward for the Kings is the BIG MAN group. The Kings were able to retain fan favorite and one of the NBA’s most improved players, Richaun Holmes. Sacramento dipped their toes in the trade market this offseason, trading guard Delon Wright for a veteran big man, with championship experience, Tristan Thompson.
Improving young players like Chimezie Metu and Damian Jones also return looking to earn more meaningful minutes. The Kings also upgraded their ‘backup/BIG’ center position by signing Alex Len, and not re-signing Hassan Whiteside. Addition by subtraction is a way to improve in SacTown, trust me non-Kings fans. How could I forget to mention that Marvin Bagley III is still on the team, has been working with new assistant coach Doug Christie, and has one of the biggest UP-SIDES of any player in the NBA!
Ahead, I give you THREE REASONS to watch the Sacramento Kings big man group this season!
1. Lineup Versatility
The Kings will be able to put out many different ‘big men combos’ this season. But, we Kings fans need to have PATIENCE. While the Kings are improving and finding their identity, they may not be able to always ‘set the tone’ on the court. That means they will have to often ‘match’ the lineup the opponent puts on the court.
Though, as they improve and find their identity … with time and patience … the Kings will be able to dictate the style of basketball being played: big/small, fast/controlled, defensive/offensive, etc. This will force the Kings opponents to match the lineup they put on the floor. Patience, patience, patience. That should probably be painted on the I-5/HWY 50 interchange in SacTown … but I digress.
The Kings can ‘go small’ at the ‘5’, with Richaun Holmes, Tristan Thompson, even Chimezie Metu, or Marvin Bagley III. A potential, and fun, ‘small’ big man lineup combo could be Holmes, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, De’Aaron Fox.
The big man crew also allows the Kings to go BIG. The addition of 7’0″ big man Alex Len in free agency was a solid move, in my opinion. Last season, the Kings could have really used the services of Len, whom the Kings chose to not sign after trading for him during the 2019-20 season.
The Kings may choose to pair two of the big men together at 5 and 4. That could look like Len mixed and matched with Holmes, Thompson, Metu, Jones or Bagley III. The ‘big’ big man lineup could be paired with the smaller ‘three-headed guard monster’ that will be Fox, Haliburton, and Mitchell. I could also see the Kings testing the waters with ‘small’ forward Harrison Barnes playing at the 4 when a BIG like Len is on the floor at the same time.
What is one lineup YOU are excited to see this season?
2. Holmes Sweet Holmes
Sacramento was able to bring back Richaun Holmes in free agency, which was the biggest question swirling around the Kings this offseason.
The Kings do not often get opportunities to sign impact free agents, so retaining their ‘homegrown’ talent is CRUCIAL to success for the franchise – short term and long term. There was a LOT of speculation going into the offseason that Richaun Holmes would jump ship, whether it was for more money or a higher chance of winning, outside of SacTown. Thankfully, Holmes stayed in Sacramento, where he has become one of the most beloved and successful players in recent franchise history. As the Kings get better, Holmes will continue to shine even brighter!
Richaun Holmes has a great story, attitude, work ethic, and skills to back it all up! There was some sweat-inducing speculation about Holmes potentially leaving for more free agent money outside of SacTown this offseason. Fortunately, he stayed Holmes, sweet Holmes! Earning a nice 4 year/46$ million dollar deal with the Sacramento Kings.
Before landing in SacTown, Holmes was a relatively unknown big man, spending his first three seasons with Philadelphia and one with Phoenix. Former Kings general manager Vlade Divac gave the free agent Holmes a shot in 2019, and that turned out to be one of the best free-agent signings in … well … Sacramento Kings history?!
During the 2020-21 season, Holmes averaged 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 29.2 minutes per game. That was while ranking second in the NBA in FG% – 63.7%! The Richaun Holmes floater … it’s hotter than a summertime float down the American River, on a toasty 916 day! Most of the NBA is sadly unaware of how deadly Holmes’ floater can be … and a few national broadcasts would help that immensely!
If and WHEN given the opportunity, the NBA nation would fall in love with Holmes, his style of play, his humble, hardworking attitude, and his passionate mom, Lydecia Holmes! Richaun’s mom, Dr. Lydecia Holmes, has won over the hearts of Sacramento Kings fans with her passionate fanfare and post-game interviews. Whether it’s Holmes’ attitude, style of play, or side stories – he is one major reason to tune into the Sacramento Kings!
Addition By Subtraction
In the past, the Kings have been forced to retain players they may not necessarily want to bring back … but are forced to because not many free agents want to sign in Sacramento. That may have been the case when re-signing Buddy Hield a few years ago. Buddy was re-signed for what many think was an over-payment at the time. Though, if we didn’t ‘overpay’ for Buddy, and he signed elsewhere, Sacramento would most likely not have been able to replace him through the free-agent market. And the Kings would have been ridiculed (again) for the eventual outcome of the DeMarcus Cousins trade that brought Buddy Buckets to SacTown.
That ‘SacTown Retainment Tax’ has come back to bite the Kings in the past, but what can you do when no free agents want to sign in SacTown. Thankfully, this seems to slowly be changing for the better.
The Kings ‘big man’ play can really only improve compared to the last three seasons. Simply put, Hassan Whiteside is the edition by subtraction I was referring to. Whiteside was … better … than Dewayne Dedmon at least. Right? Thanks for the laughs, Hassan, best wishes in your future!
3. B.Y.C. – Big Young Core
Along with the addition of veteran big men Alex Len and Tristan Thompson, Sacramento also returns improving young big men Marvin Bagley III, Chimezie Metu and Damian Jones. Metu was a fan favorite last season, showing toughness and tenacity that could bust through any HWY 99 pothole. Metu gained some international experience by representing his home country of Nigeria in the 2020 Olympic Games! Metu even hit 6/7 three-pointers during a group stage win against Italy.
In the 2nd round of the 2021 NBA draft, the Kings added defensive-minded Neemias Queta. In his junior season at Utah State, Queta averaged 14.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 2.7 assists per game. He was named to the First Team All-Mountain West and Defensive Player of the Year. Queta was one of four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award. He ranked third nationally in blocks per game, and left as Utah State’s all-time leader in blocks.
Bagley III has some of the highest UPSIDE in the NBA! He really cannot be any more ‘disappointing’ to Kings fans than he has already been up to this point. The Kings have a ‘great problem’ on their hands with Bagley III. If he can stay healthy, improve on defense, and maybe even develop an outside shot, Bagz has the potential to be an impact player for the Kings moving forward!
Will Bagley develop into more of a stretch 4, who roams the three-point line or will he turn into more of a modern, interior-based, athletic 4/5 hybrid? I think he is better served to move his game ‘outside’. The proliferation of the three-point shot in the NBA and MB3’s history of injuries does not mesh well with the more physical big man style.
One question I always ask myself when I want to complain about Bagley III is, “If he was on another team, would Kings fans LOVE to have him on our squad?” The same question could be asked about Buddy … but that’s a WHOLE other article waiting to happen …
What is YOUR Opinion?
The current rotation of Kings big men has a lot of potential! They can learn lessons from Kings paint prowlers of the past … the perseverance of Jason Thompson, the passion of DeMarcus Cousins, and the panache of a Scot Pollard.
The NBA regular season tips off Tuesday, October 19th for some and October 20th in Portland, for the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings coaching staff will have a lot of potential lineups to tinker with as the 82 game season unfolds! Maybe we can even talk about an 83rd game for SacTown … for the first time since 2006!