Their current player development coach, Stacey Augmon, was wrapping up his 15-year NBA career.
15 years, incidentally, stands as the mark the current playoff drought comes in at.
Sacramento’s postseason absence stretches back to 2006, and it’s tied with the Los Angles Clippers who missed the playoffs from 1977 to 1991, for the longest drought in league history.
The Kings have now missed the playoffs for 15 straight years.
That ties the longest postseason drought in NBA history (Clippers 1977-1991). pic.twitter.com/l8STvmB6WO
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 14, 2021
But the Kings view their young core as one on the verge of a playoff breakthrough.
Here are three reasons Sacramento can reach the NBA postseason in 2022.
3. Young Core Continues To Develop
The backcourt pairing provided Sacramento faithful with a number of highlights last season.
Fox stands on the verge of becoming an All-Star.
The 23-year-old posted a career-high scoring average of 25.2 points per game last season.
Fox averaged 7.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game as well, netting nearly 48 percent of his field goal attempts.
The dynamic defender continues to improve offensively and should push for his first career All-Star berth this season.
Haliburton, meanwhile, proved to be one of the top rookies from the 2021 draft class, despite being taken No. 12 overall.
The combo guard averaged 13 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, en route to an All-Rookie first-team berth.
27-year-old Richaun Holmes also played well last season, notching career-highs in points (14.3), rebounds (8.3), and blocks (1.6).
The Kings added talented guard Davion Mitchell with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, too.
2. Trade Chips
The Kings have long been linked in trade rumors to disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons.
The team’s general manager, Monte McNair, admitted recently Sacramento will remain aggressive in seeking roster upgrades.
Kings GM Monte McNair's offseason outlook: “We’ll be aggressive whether it’s really (any of) the three avenues — draft, free agency, trade. We’re going to continue to be aggressive and smart in looking for big or small ways that we can upgrade the team.”⬇️https://t.co/H6MNS8BNf0
— Jason Anderson (@JandersonSacBee) May 20, 2021
And considering there are a number of players who want out of Sacramento, it seems only logical the Kings will make a move at some point.
The Kings sent Delon Wright away in the deal, decluttering their backcourt depth.
Beyond Hield and Bagley III, Sacramento sports veteran Harrison Barnes as well as all of the future first-round picks and seven second-round picks over the next four years.
Adding someone like Simmons to the Fox-Haliburton core could certainly propel Sacramento’s playoff hopes.
1. Play-In Tournament
The NBA’s Play-In Tournament seems designed exactly for a team in Sacramento’s situation.
The Kings sport too much talent to tank, but not quite enough to compete for a top-six seed.
The Play-In Tournament affords teams finishing seventh through tenth in their respective conferences with a chance at a playoff berth.
The Kings missed last year’s play-in by two games, hurt by late season injuries to Fox and Haliburton.
But if Sacramento’s top talent stays healthy, and the team improves upon its dismal defense, which ranked last in the league allowing 116.5 points per 100 possessions, then there’s a real shot at sneaking into the postseason.
The Memphis Grizzlies qualified for the playoffs after defeating the Golden State Warriors last season in the Play-In Tournament.
The Grizzlies were spurred on by their young star point guard Ja Morant, and the Kings might have similar success with Fox.