We didn’t really notice it at first, but most of our potential rivals for the Kings are based on De’Aaron Fox and his matchups. Another player to add to the list of problems for Fox down the road is Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies made one of the quickest rebuild turnarounds in recent memory. They were just two seasons removed from their last playoff appearance, and hit on both of their top-5 picks in that span. Both Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. have already gotten off to strong starts in their careers, with Morant as the heavy favorite to win the Rookie Of The Year award. When the NBA hiatus began on March 11th, Memphis had a 3.5 game cushion for the 8th and final playoff spot, and will play the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs should the action resume for the playoffs.
Fox and Morant have already gone head to head a handful of times, a matchup that seems to bring out the best in Fox. He averaged 25 points in the four games against the Grizzlies this season, the most against any team that the Kings faced multiple times.
The three teams that we have highlighted as potential rivals for the Kings are likely to be three of the top teams in the Western Conference for the next decade. Should the Kings improve and ever find themselves in the playoffs, they’ll have to bring their A game against some of the Western Conference’s elite.
For the same reason that the Kings haven’t had a rival for nearly two decades is why they’ll have some should they ever be contenders: to be the best, you have to beat the best.