ESPN analyst believes the Sacramento Kings are title contenders in 2024

Jun 13, 2023, 12:14 PM

Malik Monk #0, De'Aaron Fox #5 and Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings react to a basket i...

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 28: Malik Monk #0, DeAaron Fox #5 and Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings react to a basket in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Golden 1 Center on December 28, 2022 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kavin Mistry/Getty Images)

The 2023 NBA Finals are officially in the books. That means we can move on and give our really early 2024 predictions, right?

That’s the approach ESPN’s First Take took Tuesday morning, hours after the Denver Nuggets won their first title in franchise history.

After looking at the 2024 NBA title odds, ESPN’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo shared his personal list of title contenders for next season. And what may be a surprise to many outside of Russo explained why he believes the Sacramento Kings could compete for a title in 2024.

How do I not go with De’Aaron Fox, [Malik] Monk, [Domantas] Sabonis and what they gained this year? [Sacramento] is going to get better. They had Golden State beat if [Harrison] Barnes makes a jump shot. They would have won that series then played the Lakers and who knows? Fox is great, Monk did a great job, we like Sabonis, the kid from Baylor [Davion Mitchell], they’re only going to get better. A lot of experience gained from last year’s postseason. You know they’re going to be a 50-win team next year.”

Last season, the Sacramento Kings shocked the NBA world, securing their first Pacific Division title since 2003 and their first postseason appearance since 2006 with a 48-34 record. The basketball community recognized those accomplishments by rewarding the team with Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, Clutch Player of the Year and several All-NBA and All-Rookie recognitions.

READ MORE FROM SACTOWN SPORTS: What records did the Sacramento Kings break, set during the 2022-23 season?

Rounding out his list are the Oklahoma City Thunder at five, Milwaukee Bucks at three, the defending champion Denver Nuggets at two, and the Golden State Warriors at number one. Russo eventually got some flack from Stephen A. Smith, who placed the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies ahead of the Kings.

With many questions in the NBA’s Western Conference — Ja Morant’s impending suspension, the health of the Clippers, and LeBron’s age just to name a few — is it too far fetched to believe the Sacramento Kings could be title contenders next season?

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