Less than two weeks after the opening of NBA free agency, the Kings’ roster makeover is dramatic. Depth has been added all over the court, although there is still plenty of room for adjustments.
General manager Monte McNair stocked up in the post, added a major rotational piece in the backcourt and shored up plenty of the holes in the rotation. Without a doubt, the Kings have more talent and versatility than the team that walked into the 2020-21 season.
Whether McNair has done enough to snap the franchise’s 15-year playoff drought is unknown at this time, but it’s possible that he’s not done reshaping the roster. Here is a look at where the Kings stand after a busy few weeks.
De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes
Yes, an NBA team starts five players, but we’ll get to that later. Fox and Haliburton are the starting backcourt walking into the season, which is a deviation from last season’s pairing of Fox and Buddy Hield.
Fox is the star in the making and a scoring juggernaut that has reportedly gained nine pounds of muscle this offseason. Haliburton is the Kings’ swiss army knife and secondary playmaker. They are both key to the Kings’ uptempo style and at least one of them will be on the court at most times.
Barnes can start at either forward position and will once again be asked to play substantial minutes for coach Luke Walton. He’s a seasoned veteran that posted career-highs in both rebounds and assists last season.
Holmes is back in the fold after entering the summer as an unrestricted free agent. The 27-year-old center is the heart and soul of the Kings’ defense and one of the more efficient offensive players in the league.
Davion Mitchell, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, Moe Harkless
Last season Walton walked into the season with a set starting five and then a lot of question marks. That isn’t the case this season and he can go plenty of different directions with the final starter spot.
Mitchell is a dominant perimeter defender and a knockdown 3-point shooter. He’s currently running the Kings’ summer league squad and showing off plenty of potential as a lead guard. If Walton decides to roll the dice with the rookie, it means that the team is going with a three guard set which would make them lightning quick, but undersized on most nights. Starting or coming off the bench, Mitchell will play plenty of minutes this season for the Kings.
Hield is one of the best 3-point volume shooters in the league. He finished plenty of games at the small forward position last season and there is a possibility that he transitions to the three full time. There is also a chance that he is used as a bench scorer or is moved in a trade in the coming weeks. Nothing is off the table.
Like Hield, Bagley came into last season as a starter. Whether that will be the case this year is a major question. When he’s healthy, the 22-year-old leaper has shown promise. Unfortunately, he’s missed 48 percent of his games through the first three years of his career. If he’s still on the roster come Game 1, Bagley very well could start at the four. He might be the most natural fit with the starting group, but the Kings have been down this road before.
With Bagley on the shelf, Harkless started 20 games down the stretch last season for the Kings. He’s not nearly the offensive weapon of a Hield or Bagley, but he's a major upgrade on the defensive end. If Harkless can find his 3-point stroke, he might be a perfect complimentary piece to the other four starters. That would also give Walton plenty of fire power off the bench.
McNair picked Davis up on the cheap at the trade deadline and the 24-year-old guard flourished down the stretch with Fox and Haliburton out of commission. He plays hard on both ends of the court and when he starts hitting from the perimeter, he turns into Bobby Jackson 2.0.
If Hield and/or Bagley are coming off the bench, Davis’ role will change slightly, but the Kings have a lot of fire power to work with this season. Davis signed a two-year, $8 million contract to return to Sacramento as a restricted free agent.
Instead of bringing back Len last season, the Kings went with Hassan Whiteside as the team’s back up center. That didn’t work out at all. Len knows his role. He’s a tough guy that hits the boards hard, can shoot a 3-pointer and when the game gets physical, he doesn’t mind pushing back.
After signing a two-year, $7.6 million free agent contract with the Kings, Len will act as Holmes’ primary backup at center and should play 12-16 minutes per game.
Tristan Thompson, Chimezie Metu, Damian Jones
Thompson was a surprise addition to the roster, but there is always a possibility that this was a move before another move. The veteran can play both the four and the five and he is still a solid rebounder and team defender. Thompson has one year at $9.7 million remaining on his contract, which is a steep price to pay for a non-rotational big man.
Metu continues to show promise as a reserve four. He has developed as a perimeter shooter and could come in handy if the Kings have injury issues or make a substantial trade during the season. He’s a hard worker that’s earned his spot on the roster, but playing time won’t be easy to come by.
Like Metu, Jones fought his way onto the roster late last season. He is an athletic big man that doesn’t mind mixing it up in the post. For now, he is the backup to the backup, but both Holmes and Len have a history of missing time.
Jahmi’us Ramsey, Robert Woodard
After a shaky start at the California Classic, Ramsey has played well in the Las Vegas Summer League. Last season was a wash for the 20-year-old wing, but he’ll get a shot to play plenty of minutes this season with the Stockton Kings.
Woodard is on the bubble. He’s struggled with the basics in Sacramento and Las Vegas summer leagues and looks heavy footed. Like Ramsey, Woodard has a guaranteed contract for this season, but he needs to show that he is worth the investment.
The Kings have until Aug. 15 to make a decision on Justin James’ non-guaranteed contract, but with 16 players on guaranteed contracts and James not invited to summer league, it’s unlikely he sticks around past next week.
Louis King, Neemias Queta
King is an interesting player for Sacramento. He can play the one, two and three and there is a lot to like about his game. He’s clearly more game ready than either Ramsey or Woodard and there is a chance he is in a Kings uniform a lot more than either of them this season. He could become even more valuable as a fifth guard if the Kings make a blockbuster move to further reorganize the roster.
If Jones is the backup to the backup, then Queta is the backup to the backup of the backup. The Portuguese 7-footer has looked very good in Las Vegas and he will play a ton in Stockton this season. Two years from now, he could be the team’s new Alex Len.
Projected Depth Chart
PG: Fox, Mitchell
SG: Haliburton, Davis, Ramsey
SF: Barnes, Hield, King, Woodard
PF: Bagley, Harkless, Thompson, Metu
C: Holmes, Len, Jones, Queta