The Sixteen-Year-Long Nightmare for Sacramento Kings Fans Is Over

Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox

For a generation, the Sacramento Kings have been the laughingstock of the NBA. The franchise has made mistake after mistake in the last sixteen years, and had missed the playoffs in all of those seasons.

The last Kings team to make the playoffs was in 2005-2006, where they lost in the first round. Some of the names on that team will bring back members. Guys like Brad Miller, Peja Stojakovic, Bonzi Wells, and Mike Bibby played for that team, which was just a few years away from their controversial 2002 Western Conference Finals game 6 loss to the Lakers that some still think may have been influenced by former NBA official Dick Bavetta, who convicted felon and former NBA referee Tim Donaghy claimed was a tool of the league office to influence games for ratings.

Since then, the team has made mistake after mistake. When you haven’t made the playoffs for sixteen straight seasons, that means you’re picking in the lottery a lot. And, yes, there has been some bad luck for them, as the NBA Draft Lottery has not been kind to them. They never won the lottery a single time, and only picked in the top 3 once. It’s no exaggeration to say they’ve been by far the unluckiest lottery team in the NBA. Compare that to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won the lottery four times in an 11-year span from 2003-2014, despite making the playoffs five times in that span. In other words, the team won the lottery a remarkable four out of seven times they were in it.

But, they didn’t make the most of heir draft picks, either. They turned all of those lottery picks into just one All-Star, Demarcus Cousins. The list of follies include Nik Stauskas, Thomas Robinson, Ben McElmore, and Zach Collins. The worst, though, was taking Marvin Bagley 2nd overall, one pick ahead of Luka Dončić.

Lately, though, they’ve done better. De’Aaron Fox was an excellent in 2017, and they turned lottery pick Tyrese Halliburton into a trade for star big man Domantis Sabonis. And, those two have blended well with role players like Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, and 2022 first round pick Keegan Murray, the Sacramento Kings are returning back to the playoffs. They clinched their spot with a 120-80 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Not only have they clinched, but they’re sitting at 45-30, comfortably in the third seed, five games clear of fourth-seeded Phoenix, and just two back of second-seeded Memphis.

Garrett Carr
Garrett Carr is a recent graduate of Penn State University. He lives and dies Penn State football, wrestling, and the New York Mets.