Sacramento Kings: Fans should embrace the tank

There are plenty of adjectives that you could use to describe the Sacramento Kings‘ fan base: Loyal. Tortured. Tight-knit. But above all else, we’re a passionate bunch. We live and die with every game and every bucket, embracing the underdog label that is constantly slapped on both our franchise and our city. We haven’t had a taste of the playoffs 15 years, which will tie the longest streak in the history of the NBA. Some of the biggest draft blunders in recent memory are on our record, and our ownership and franchise structure have been mocked for years.

Despite all of the ineptitude, the Kings’ Faithful is just that. Faithful. We’re always holding out hope that we’ll be a better team tomorrow, that today was the last day of torment and suffering. The light at the end of the tunnel has never actually gotten any closer, yet we never stop sprinting towards it.

Sacramento Kings fans are divided on what the team’s direction should be. Half of them are wrong. It is time to embrace the tank.

This season, the passion has been on full display since Day 1. The new regime that now runs the front office has been uncharacteristically mute about their intentions for the future and which direction the franchise is headed in, which has caused a noticeable divide amongst the fan base.

These days, you’re either embracing the tank, or you’re not.

The Sacramento Kings as they are currently constructed are not going anywhere. Their young pieces are promising and give us hope for the future, but much of the rest of the roster is simply a mess that Vlade Divac left on Monte McNair’s desk. We knew this since before the season even started.

But there were those that held out hope. Many fans believed that the roster was talented enough to make a playoff push and that last season’s failures could somehow be remedied by bringing back essentially the same core and lackluster coach. They thought that the eighth seed, or better, was truly attainable.

The rest of us understood what this particular group of players was capable of, what their ceiling was, and what a pick at the top of the 2021 Draft could do for the future of the franchise. We wanted certain players traded and envisioned what a competent general manager would do with the extra cap space. Most of all, we were tired of the same old story. You know, the one where the Kings win eight out of 12 mid-season games against formidable opponents, get back in the playoff push, win over all of our hearts again, stand pat at the trade deadline, only to lose seven in a row, flounder, and end up with a draft pick somewhere in the seven to 11 range. Rinse and repeat.

Those of us who are pro-tank don’t want to make a push for the eighth seed. We don’t want to get swept in the first round. We want a playoff series at Golden 1 Center as much as anyone else, but we want to be able to once again capture that seemingly unattainable magic that we felt when the Sacramento Kings were legit title contenders back in what now feels like another lifetime. Isn’t that the point of all of this?

The chase for this season’s NBA Championship truly feels like a two-horse race at this point, and the aforementioned riches of the 2021 Draft loom large for the teams that end up being the bottom feeders in the league. There are prospects that could instantly aid in an upward trajectory for the Kings, and the front office would be foolish if they weren’t already scouting those most highly touted. The tallies that are placed in the loss column this season could be bigger wins than in most years in recent memory.

It is not that we are actively rooting for the Kings to lose. For the 48 minutes of basketball, there is never a time when I’m hoping that a shot doesn’t go in, or wishing for an unfortunate turnover. As a die-hard fan, I’m the same 13-year old kid I was back in the 2002 glory days, bouncing around my house in my purple jersey and trying to will my team to victory through the TV screen.

But I also understand basketball and the way the NBA works more than I did when I was 13. I can see what a top pick can do for a struggling franchise, especially for one in a small market that often has to rely on the draft to acquire its most important players. I’ve watched Cade Cunningham and Jonathan Kuminga and the rest of the top prospects, and envisioning them running alongside De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton is a lot more fun than watching your team give up 120+ points on a nightly basis behind guys like Buddy Hield and Cory Joseph.

If we want to be consistent winners, then we’re going to have to endure a little more losing. We’ve done it for 15 years now, what is another three months? Join us, and embrace the tank.