General manager Monte McNair labeled the Kings "value buyers" at the NBA trade deadline. In Monday’s impressive 132-115 win over the San Antonio Spurs, each of the team’s main acquisitions brought something to the victory.
The trio of Delon Wright, Moe Harkless and Terence Davis was impactful, allowing Kings coach Luke Walton to pull back just slightly on his starters' minutes.
Sacramento is on a hot streak. The Kings have won five straight, and seven of their last eight. With the team battling for a playoff spot, it’s imperative that their new faces quickly acclimate to the Kings’ style of play and find a niche within the squad.
So far, they're doing just that.
“We got it rolling a little bit before the trade and then those guys come in with the same mindset,” Richaun Holmes said. “Delon does a great job of making sure our pace is good. TD adds an aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. Moe is just savvy, smart, knows where to be. Those guys came in ready to fit in and ready to help the team.”
With De’Aaron Fox picking up two fouls in the first four minutes of the game, Walton n turned to Wright early for minutes.
The veteran point guard is long and athletic and fights through screens as well or better than any guard on the Kings’ roster. He didn’t have a great shooting night, but he still managed to stuff the stat sheet with two points, five assists, four rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes.
Harkless got it going in the first quarter when he drilled a 3-pointer to give the Kings a lead with just under a minute remaining in the period.
The veteran was out of the rotation in Miami, playing just twice in his final 31 games with the Heat. He more than doubled his season-high of six points in just his second game in a Kings uniform, finishing the night with 13 points in 14 minutes on 3-of-4 shooting from long range.
Davis didn’t stand out early in the game, unless it was for his penchant for over-dribbling. Through three quarters, Davis had a modest five points, but the 23-year-old came up big when the Kings needed a scorer to hold off the Spurs' charge.
At the 8:02 mark of the fourth, Davis knocked down a 3-pointer to give Sacramento a six point lead at 107-101. Moments later, he picked up a steal and found Harkless for a layup in transition to push the Kings’ lead to eight.
Davis played 18 minutes in his second game with the Kings. He scored nine of his 14 points in the deciding fourth quarter and chipped in two assists, three rebounds and two steals in the victory.
None of these players are going to singlehandedly win a game for Sacramento, but they make the Kings deeper, more physical and better on defense.
“Part of what we need to get better at, what we’ve been missing is that type of explosion and athleticism,” Walton said. “It’s a small sample size, but tonight really showed the value of having that.”
This group will have nights like this where they combine to score 29 points off the bench, and there might even be moments where one or more of them is asked to start or play major minutes if there are injuries.
“The new guys are obviously still trying to get their feet wet, figure out what their role is and then come out here and hoop,” Tyrese Haliburton said.
If the Kings are going to survive this condensed 72 game schedule, they are going to need someone to lighten the load on the starters. The early returns are promising from this group, and they haven’t even had time to learn the playbook or terminology.
While Wright, Harkless and Davis played well, it should be noted that all five starters scored in double figures Monday. De’Aaron Fox dropped in a game-high 24 points, Holmes and Haliburton each notched double-doubles, while Buddy Hield scored 20 points on 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
The core is the reason the Kings have won five straight games, but the new guys might be able to add a new element. The early returns on McNair’s value buys are intriguing, to say the least.