Sacramento Kings: Former Kings players succeeding in NBA playoffs

While the Sacramento Kings were one of the disappointing stories of the restart, a handful of their former players are making waves in the NBA playoffs.

Playing for the Sacramento Kings is rarely beneficial for a player’s career. The franchise has been referred to as “Basketball Hell”, a nickname that fans have begrudgingly adopted over the years in self-deprecation. The organization is a mess from the top down, an issue that resonates on the court and has resulted in 14 years without an appearance in the NBA playoffs.

Not only does the team repeatedly whiff on draft picks, but the players that they do select often find greener pastures elsewhere.

The list is long and ugly.

The NBA playoffs have only just begun, but there are a handful of former Sacramento Kings who have already made names for themselves thus far:

Ben McLemore:

One of the many disappointing draft selections for the Kings over the last decade, Ben McLemore has found a home with the championship-contending Houston Rockets. In four full seasons with the Kings, he averaged over ten points just once, which came during the only season in which he averaged 30+ minutes per game. He shot better than 38 percent from deep just once and averaged 3.6 attempts per game.

McLemore has thrived alongside the stars in Houston. He is up to 6.4 3-point attempts per game this season, of which he is making 40 percent. His true shooting percentage is up to .622, far and away the best mark of his career. In the first playoff game of his career, McLemore scored 14 points on 62.5 percent shooting in a Rockets victory over the Thunder on Tuesday.

Wenyen Gabriel:

While he hasn’t been putting up any gaudy numbers, Wenyen Gabriel has been of importance to his new team. The Kings traded the rookie away in February as an essential throw-in for the Ariza/Bazemore deal. He played a respectable 9.0 minutes per contest in 19 appearances down the stretch of the regular season and was a needed body for a front line that was missing key pieces. Gabriel was thrust into the starting lineup for his first-ever playoff game, taking the place of the injured Zach Collins. He played 16 minutes and was +12.

Hassan Whiteside:

It has been a long time since we first felt the burn of the Kings letting Hassan Whiteside go. He led the league in rebounding with 14.1 per game in 2016-’17, and led the league in blocks twice, including this year. He played an integral part in keeping the Portland Trail Blazers afloat during the regular season in the absence of Collins and Jusuf Nurkic, and filled in again when Collins missed Game 1 of the first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers. He had a huge block against LeBron James down the stretch in that game, one of his five on the night.

Gary Trent Jr.

Technically, Gary Trent Jr. never played for the Sacramento. But it was Kings who initially picked him during the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. He was immediately shipped to Portland in exchange for two future second-round picks and cash considerations. Trent has been one of the league’s biggest revelations since the restart began. He has scored in double digits in all but one game thus far and is hitting three-pointers at an unbelievable clip.

He has proved to be an important piece for the Blazers moving forward, a backup for the team’s lethal starting backcourt who can come in and provide his own bunches of buckets. Trent Jr. scored 30 points in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder back in January. Cash Considerations has
yet to score a point in the NBA.

Seth Curry

Seth Curry has developed into yet another sore spot for the Sacramento Kings as he has found success with the Dallas Mavericks. He showed some flashes of brilliance during his time in Sacramento but didn’t last more than a season. He signed with the Mavericks in 2017 and developed into a solid role player. Over the first two games of the current postseason, Curry has scored a total of 29 points on 5 for 11 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Kings have plenty of decisions to make this offseason, and a major shuffling of the roster could be in play before 2021. The team still has a handful of young and talented players who are trying to carve out their niche in the league, and they could be forced to part with some of them should they attempt a full rebuild.

Is there a chance that we see Buddy Hield or even Marvin Bagley playing for another team next season in the NBA playoffs? Yes, and their careers will probably thrive because of it.

Just another day on the calendar in Basketball Hell.