Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Powerhouse Pacific Division

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam #43 vs Marvin Bagley #35 of the Sacramento Kings (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam #43 vs Marvin Bagley #35 of the Sacramento Kings (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

Sacramento Kings

Key Arrivals: Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza, Richaun Holmes

Key Departures: Willie Cauley-SteinKosta Koufos, Corey Brewer, Alec Burks

Congratulations, Sacramento! You proved last season that you are no longer the Oakland Raiders of the NBA. Who would’ve taught their collection of prospects plus a wily coach in Dave Joerger could almost make this team a playoff contender.

But despite the improvement, the Kings parted ways with Joerger and introduced Luke Walton as the new coach. They also added a slew of solid veterans from all positions. Sacramento should prove last season’s success wasn’t a fluke and any form of regression could mean heavy consequences for both their players and their front office.

Offensive outlook

A great deal of the Kings’ success can be attributed to the massive improvement from De’Aaron Fox. The super sophomore improved his playmaking by increasing his scoring and his efficiency. Buddy Hield also made a jump taking his game to a new level.

Second-overall pick Marvin Bagley III began to prove his doubters wrong by finishing the season strong and making it to the All-Rookie First Team. Bogdan Bogdanovic also showed how hot he can get if he gets going. And trade deadline addition Harrison Barnes is a reliable scorer at the least.

Joseph will add some playmaking to their second unit while Ariza and Dedmon add even more long-range shooting to a team that ranked fourth in the NBA in three-point efficiency last season.

Defensive outlook

The Kings didn’t just manage to improve their offense, but also their defense. Dedmon and Ariza aren’t just shooters, they’ll anchor their defense and help erase some mistakes from the Kings’ young core (especially from Hield, who is one of their worst defenders).

Fox and Bagley are still developing as defenders. Fox has shown flashes of being a premier ballhawk, and Bagley was at least average (good for a rookie) before the Kings mailed it in.

Losing both Cauley-Stein and Koufos will be a blow to their frontcourt defense. However, a little bit of improvement from Fox, Bagley, and even Nemanja Bjelica could go a long way. And the onus is on Walton to get every bit of sweat from everyone.

Projected outlook: 37-45

Sacramento showed plenty of heart last season and stayed in the playoff hunt for a huge chunk of the season. With their young players only continuing to grow and the addition of veterans around the team, the Kings should only get better.

But playing in the toughest division, where they were only 4-12 last season, could continue to hinder them. This is a team you can expect to be in the middle of the NBA: they will beat the bad teams but lose to the good ones, on most occasions.

Unfortunately for them, they will more often play the good teams than the bad ones.