Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Season Preview: Kessler Edwards
Sep 26, 2023, 2:30 PM | Updated: Sep 27, 2023, 11:16 am
(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Two days before the 2023 NBA trade deadline, the Sacramento Kings acquired Kessler Edwards in a deal with the Brooklyn Nets. With Brooklyn looking to shed some salary to lessen their luxury tax bill, the Kings were given $2.58 million along with Edwards.
The 23-year-old forward split his time between the G-League, with the Long Island Nets, and Brooklyn. Not long after being acquired by Sacramento, Edwards was given a shot in the rotation thanks to his persistent defensive effort and engagement at 6’8″ with a 6’11” wingspan.
After moving on from Chima Moneke and KZ Okpala mid-season, head coach Mike Brown did not have a defensive-minded forward to deploy when needed. Edwards showed promise navigating screens, defending various positions, securing rebounds, and maintaining confidence in his jump shot.
He played 22 games with Sacramento last season, including the final 20 regular season games. The Pepperdine alum averaged 3.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists on 43.5/34.9/76.9 shooting splits with the Kings.
The front office was impressed with his play enough to pick up his $1.9 million team option this offseason.
It’s all about the defense for Kessler Edwards. His defensive versatility was impressive, specifically in guarding bigger guard/wing initiators. Edwards had promising moments defending the likes of Devin Booker, Anthony Edwards, Brandon Ingram, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine. Coach Mike Brown was complimentary of his defense and allowed him to start for two games when Kevin Huerter was temporarily unavailable.
“You just like the versatility that it gives you defensively… moving him around to see how versatile he can be defensively is something we’re really trying to take a look at, especially with him starting…”
– Coach Brown on Kessler Edwards starting in place of Kevin Huerter
— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) March 22, 2023
Rebounding is the other aspect that Edwards found ways to make an impact. He pulled down 47 boards, including 17 offensive, in 306 total minutes wearing royal purple. While not eye-popping, those are solid numbers for the wing. The effort is half the battle with rebounding and defending, and it’s no coincidence those two areas where Edwards found a way to contribute. His effort and energy are apparent nightly.
There were flashes as a shooter, but it’s currently more of a weakness. Optimism can be found when his youth is considered. Edwards turned 23 at the beginning of August, leaving plenty of room for potential growth. His career trajectory could notably change if he continues to develop as a catch-and-shoot threat from beyond the arc.
If you had to find a defensive shortcoming for Kessler Edwards, it would be his fouling. He recorded three or more personal fouls in seven of his final 20 showings. His level of ball pressure is expected to come with a few whistles, but it could be cleaned up.
His primary question mark is what he can consistently contribute on the offensive end of the floor. He converted 30.9 percent (17/55) of his triples between his time with Brooklyn and Sacramento last season, with only two attempts that were not catch-and-shoot. With no defender within six feet, he knocked down 29.6 percent (8/27) from three, per NBA Stats. That number has to improve.
Anytime opposing teams are comfortable ignoring an off-ball shooter, it complicates the spacing. Sacramento clearly emphasized surrounding All-Stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis with players who can space the floor and open up the paint. Edwards played Summer League, both the California Classic and in Las Vegas, with the Kings and went 21/61 (34.4 percent) from three.
What to expect from Kessler Edwards in 2023-24
Edwards averaged just 13.9 minutes with the Kings last season, and their depth has improved since then. Chris Duarte has replaced Terence Davis II. Euroleague MVP Sasha Vezenkov stepped in while Chimezie Metu departed. Both are notable upgrades to the Sacramento Kings wing and forward depth, where Edwards is expected to compete for minutes.
More specifically, Duarte’s defensive potential could limit the opportunities Edwards receives. Say that Devin Booker is scorching in a quarter. Who would the coaching staff send to try and slow him down? Duarte may be the preferred option over Edwards, but that remains to be seen. If it’s a larger player (Kevin Durant, for example), the size and length of Edwards could sway the decision.
At 23, it’s hard to predict where Kessler Edwards may have continued to develop his game. He could be a regular bench piece in the rotation if he comes in confident, comfortable, and converting from three. It’s likely an uphill battle, with the offseason additions being added competition, but his potential three-and-D blueprint is valuable for a team that hopes to improve defensively.
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule
- Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason Opener)
- Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
- Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule
- Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
- Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
- Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)