NBA Week 3 recap: Enjoying the Kings and Thunder on the rise

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The enjoyable Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings are a joy to watch this season. No, that’s not a typo. The Kings have not only been one of the worst franchises in the NBA in terms of win-loss record, but were as unwatchable as any other team in the association. Signing and playing over-the-hill veterans, drafting and developing talent terribly and even making terrible trades that impacts them this year (Philadelphia 76ers or Boston Celtics claim rights to Kings’ 2019 first round pick from a disastrous 2015 trade with Philly).

But this version of the Kings seems to have turned the corner. Maybe their 6-4 record isn’t sustainable. Maybe they find themselves in the bottom five of the NBA standings by March, but at least they’re doing it with a young team that makes sense and plays an exciting style of basketball.

The Kings are second in the NBA in pace (108.1), fourth in points per game (118.7), second in 3-point percentage (39.9 percent) and fourth in effective field goal percentage (55.5 percent). These are all massive improvements from last year’s slowest paced team, and show that head coach Dave Joerger is instigating change in the right direction and using his personnel correctly.

My first contributing writing position for FanSided was with A Royal Pain, sharing my thoughts about the Kings. I thought the Buddy HieldDeMarcus Cousins swap signaled a team ready to change their style of play along with the face of their franchise moving forward. Since then, I’ve loved most of their draft picks and roster moves.

De’Aaron Fox is spearheading this revolution and is a candidate for Most Improved Player. Fox is averaging 18.6 points, 7.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game and is fearless in the closing minutes of games. He was known for his speed and competitiveness coming into the NBA and we’re seeing it on full display with this current system.

His running mate in the backcourt is continuing his strong finish to 2017-18, as Buddy Hield leads the team in scoring (19.7 points per game) and is shooting a remarkable 48.0 percent on 5.0 3-point attempts per game. These two complement each other so well, with Fox providing the playmaking and defensive tenacity as Buddy spaces the floor and offers the kind of go-to scoring from the guard position the Kings have tried to draft for years.

The main aspect I love about their roster is everybody has defined roles. Willie Cauley-Stein protects the rim, sets hard screens and gobbles up rebounds. Nemanja Bjelica spaces the floor offensively and is one of the more underrated steals of free agency after he opted out of his agreement with the 76ers. Even Iman Shumpert is playing hard and could net a draft pick later in the season if the Kings part with him.

Justin Jackson doesn’t take too many shots, but plays hard defensively and does the little things. Marvin Bagley III competes on both ends and shows some signs of the player they drafted at No .2 overall. He’s very young and may not have been the ideal fit for the roster, but Bagley and Harry Giles are probably viewed as the long-term replacements for Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere.

What’s exciting is the Kings’ best player from last season hasn’t played yet. Bogdan Bogdanovic is an all-around player that impressed in his rookie season and will seamlessly slot in to their rotation as the team’s second best playmaker once he returns from a left knee injury that required a procedure in the offseason.

They may not have a team littered with future stars, but the Sacramento Kings play like a team with defined roles. I’ve been waiting for these players to grow in said roles, and it’s exciting to see them come to fruition already. The Kings are becoming a must-see team on NBA League Pass.