For much of the season, Kings head coach Luke Walton centered on a small group of players to carry the load. The core rotation of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes all played huge minutes, leaving scraps for the remainder of the roster.
General manager Monte McNair added depth at the deadline, which came in handy as injuries forced Walton to expand his rotation late in the year.
The sample size is small for this group, but here is a look at the three additions at the deadline that made an impact on the Kings’ stretch run. The 2020-21 stats are based on their performances in Sacramento alone.
20-21 Stats: 10.0 points, 3.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 46.2% FG, 39.8% 3pt
19-20 Stats: 6.9 points, 3.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 46.2% FG, 37.0% 3pt
Sometimes you don’t know what is missing until you find it. Acquired at the deadline for Cory Joseph and a pair of second-round picks, Wright stepped up huge in his 27 game audition in Sacramento. He became a leader on the second unit and when Fox went down late in the season, he was a difference-maker in the starting lineup.
Long and athletic, Wright is the type of defensive agitator the Kings desperately needed. He played the passing lanes, mixed it up amongst the trees for rebounds and brought a toughness the team was lacking in the backcourt.
Wright is under contract for next season at $8.5 million and at age 29, he is the type of veteran player the Kings are hoping to surround their young core with. His ability to play either guard position is an asset as well.
20-21 Stats: 11.1 points, 1.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 43.9% FG, 37.2% 3pt
19-20 Stats: 7.5 points, 1.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, .5 steals, 45.6% FG, 38.8% 3pt
McNair took a gamble on Davis at the deadline, investing a second-round pick in a trade for the second-year guard. It took a while for him to get comfortable, but Davis’ performance down the stretch turned heads. Like Wright, he’s a long, physical, defender that doesn’t mind mixing it up. He has room to grow on this end of the court, but he plays with an aggression that you can’t teach.
On the offensive side, Davis was erratic early. When he missed his first few shots, he struggled. As he found his sea legs, he became an electric scorer off Walton’s bench, averaging 16.4 points per game over his final 10 games. What is encouraging is that for a young player, he has a remarkably clean shot chart. He took 169 shots inside of 10 feet, with the majority of those coming at the rim. He also took 267 3-point attempts, knocking down 98 shots from distance. That left just 20 total shots that were outside of 10 feet, but inside the 3-point line.
Davis walks into the summer as a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer and cap hold of just $1.9 million. The 24-year-old looks like a perfect fit for the Kings long-term. He plays with force and energy, showed an ability to act as a facilitator in a pinch and was fearless going to the rim. Expect him back next season in Sacramento, with the potential to be part of the organization for a while.
20-21 Stats: 6.9 points, 1.4 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 42.1% FG, 24.7% 3pt
19-20 Stats: 5.8 points, 1.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, .9 steals, 50.2% FG, 34.7% 3pt
Like Wright and Davis, Harkless got off a plane in Sacramento and stepped into a major role in Walton’s rotation. Unlike the other two, he had barely played in the first half and had plenty of rust to shake off.
Harkless started 20 out of his 26 games in a Kings uniform and while it wasn’t always pretty, he filled a role as a versatile defender on the frontline. The 28-year-old showed that he had plenty left in the tank, especially on the defensive end, where he was asked to guard almost every position on the court at one time or another.
Left out of the rotation almost completely in Miami, Harkless came to the Kings out of rhythm. He struggled to find his 3-point shot, but like Davis, his shot chart is exactly what you want to see from a role player. He took 71 shots inside of 10-feet, including 53 attempts at the rim where he put a few opponents on posters. He struggled to find his stroke from the 3-point line, hitting just 23-of-84 (24.7 percent) from long range and he took just 10 shots in the mid-range.
McNair acquired a player that fit the system and despite the shooting woes, Harkless brought plenty to the table in his short stint in Sacramento. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and there are no guarantees he’ll be back with the Kings, but he gave the coaches and front office a look at the type of player they need to pair with Barnes at forward.