OTG Team Awards: Sacramento Kings
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The Sacramento Kings have been a revelation this season. They came close to making it to the playoffs in the vaunted Western Conference despite having a relatively young core. As a consolation, they would finish with their best record since their 38-win total in the 2007-08 season.
Let’s take a look at the players who fast-tracked the Kings’ rebuilding process in our annual Off The Glass NBA awards.
Sixth Man of the Year: Bogdan Bogdanovic
Bogdanovic essentially switched roles with Buddy Hield due to his early season absence while recovering from a knee surgery. But the change in role didn’t slow down the former back-to-back Euroleague Rising Star as he improved in almost all categories save for the three-point percentage.
Honorable mention goes to rookie big man Marvin Bagley III, whose near double-double average is one of the reasons why the Kings played above expectations this season.
Most Improved Player: De’Aaron Fox
The Kings’ selection of Bagley instead of point forward Luka Doncic in the NBA Draft was a virtual vote of confidence on Fox. The speedy point guard rewarded their faith in him by taking the next big leap. Fox embraced the challenge as he became the catalyst of the Kings’ relentless running attack and even looked like the best player on the court for the Kings at times. He improved in all major categories and leads the team in assists and steals while coming in second in scoring.
Rookie of the Year: Marvin Bagley III
The second overall pick immediately made an impact on the Kings this season. Bagley anchored the frontline of Sacramento’s second unit averaging 14.8 points on 50.4 percent shooting along with 7.6 rebounds, including 19 double-doubles. His athletic gifts perfectly fit with the Kings’ push-and-pace game and once he develops an outside game, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
Defensive Player of the Year: Willie Cauley-Stein
While Cauley-Stein’s career has been marred by inconsistencies and potential that have yet to fully develop, he remains the de facto defensive anchor of the Kings. The athletic 7 foot center leads Sacramento in defensive win shares, which is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense, with 2.9 as he ranked first in total (8.4) and defensive rebounds (6.2), second in steals (1.2), and third in blocks (0.6).
This summer, the Kings will have an important decision to make as the fourth year big man becomes a restricted free agent.
Honorable mention goes to De’Aaron Fox who is second in defensive win shares (2.5) and leads the Kings in steals (1.7) and was the team’s fourth best shot blocker with 45 total.
Most Valuable Player: Buddy Hield
Considered by many as a borderline-bust during the DeMarcus Cousins’ trade in his rookie year, Hield defied the odds and quickly developed to become one of the league’s best shooters.
Coveted by GM Vlade Divac for his high character and the Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadivé for his Stephen Curry-potential, Hield has managed to meet those expectations and is now the team’s undisputed leader both in the locker room and on the court.
Hield has broken the franchise record for threes made this season with an insane 3.4 average per game that spiked his scoring to a team-best 20.8 points from 13.5 as the Kings’ sixth man last year.
His defense is also underrated and he is one of the better defenders at his position. He’s like an Energizer Bunny for the Kings that keeps going and going. The scary part is he’s only 26 years old and has yet to reach the prime years of his career.
Honorable mention goes to De’Aaron Fox and coach Dave Joerger for their major impact on the Kings’ electrifying game and big turnaround this season.
Stats via Basketball Reference