Let’s Put On Purple Glasses
I’m not an optimist, never really have been.
I’ve said before it makes no real sense. Set expectations high, and the best you can do is meet them. Odds are, you’ll fall short of expectations, even with improvement. So optimism simply sets you up for disappointment in the long run.
Pessimism however, can be your best friend. Set expectations LOW, and one of two things will happen:
1. You’ll meet those expectations, which you already prepared yourself for.
2. You’ll exceed those expectations, even with a tiny bit of progress. You only set yourself up for a win (no matter how minor) in the long run.
Now understand as well, there’s a difference between expectation and hope.
I expect the Kings to fail.
I hope they won’t.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I thought this week about things I HOPE will happen this year. Doesn’t mean I expect it (though I expect some more than others), but these are some things I’m hopeful for.
Some of them will happen, in some form. Most of them will not, most likely.
1. De’Aaron Fox goes next level
Fox’s bubble performance was in fact, next level. And entering his fourth season, there’s no reason to think he won’t continue his ascension to eventual all-star. His scoring has increased each year, and he’s become an overall more efficient shooter (despite slight drops from the line and behind the arc last season).
With another year and a large contract under his belt, this seems to be the most likely prospect for optimism.
2. Marvin Bagley plays 60 games
Remember, this is a 70 game season. So for Bagley to knock out 60-plus, that’s a huge HUGE step.
The good news is, his injuries don’t seem to be chronic. Yes, a big man having issues from the knees down is concerning, but some of these appear to be freakish, and perhaps the result of a young man growing extremely fast, and adding a ton of muscle mass in a short period.
I’ve been very consistent- if you told me Marvin (in a regular season) would average 70 or more games a year for the next 5-10, I’d say he’s a multi-time all star. He’s still incredibly young, and his ability to score and rebound are fantastic.
We need to see his defensive positioning improve, as well as an ability (or desire) to use both hands.
One thing we were fond of saying on the show, had he played at Duke and come out this season, he would’ve been a top 3 pick, if not #1 overall. Bagley could end up being money in the bank most Kings fans forgot about.
3. Luke let’s em fly
Is Luke Walton a good coach? The majority of Kings fans online seem to think no. And they may be right, but for me- a chef is only as good as his ingredients. In Walton and Monte McNair, Sacramento has one of the youngest GM/Coach batteries in the league.
One thing I often ask- if players can improve and adjust with experience, in fact if we expect them to- why not the same for coaches?
In his few years as a head coach, Walton has been the head of one of the greatest teams ever (the Warriors while Steve Kerr was on the mend), coached perhaps the greatest player ever (Lebron in LA), and then came to Sacramento.
His first year was coming off the success of Dave Joerger’s squad, and he was handpicked by a GM who is no longer with the team in Vlade Divac.
Will another, hopefully less dramatic year bode well for Walton? Will he open the floodgates a bit on a offense, while making sure the defense isn’t a complete sieve?
Will the additions of Alvin Gentry and Rex Kalamian help get the message across, and help mold the messaging (along with McNair)?
This is a huge, complicated wildcard.
4. Buddy Buckets or Buddy Suckets
Here’s another big wildcard. Despite any other noise, when the game starts- Buddy Hield shows up to play. The question is, which Buddy shows up:
- the Buddy that can singlehandedly go on a 12-0 run in the blink of an eye? Hitting jumpers from all over the floor and opening up opportunities for his teammates?
- the Buddy that goes 5-18, after starting 2-10. The Buddy that earned the nickname “Budderfingers” for his lapses mentally, being prone to making bad passes, or just losing his defensive assignment entirely?
Not all was his fault. You don’t ask a fork to be a spoon, and too often Hield was put in a spot he shouldn’t have been in. You can’t run the offense through him, he’s best when he’s darting all over the floor and pulling up.
Buddy is quite simply going have to confound the idea that the Kings are simply a more productive team with him coming off the bench. He will have to make a commitment to being more of a two way player, and at the same time the staff will need to minimize bad situations for him as well. The addition of another ballhandler in Tyrese Haliburton should help a bit.
With Marvin Bagley’s extension due this summer, you can bet there’s no chance the Kings will have 4 players making 20 million plus next season. It is a foregone conclusion that either Hield, Harrison Barnes, or both will be gone in 21-22.
My guess is if McNair had his way, both would be flipped for a decent combined haul of assets, though Barnes’ value isn’t really much at all.
So many questions. So much room for hope.
Just don’t hope too much.