Moreso than any other season in recent memory, the starting lineup of the Sacramento Kings is in a state of flux. It remains to be seen how Luke Walton will manage to dictate a lineup consisting of three young promising guards, accomplished veterans, and a whole host of circulating trade rumors.
That being said, I believe we can start to feel out just how the starting five might look. That is, of course, if Buddy Hield nor Marvin Bagley are traded for someone like Ben Simmons prior to the start of the season. While Sacramento can employ the occasional three-guard lineup to play small-ball, I believe we’ll see a more traditional lineup at the onset of most games.
Barring any splashy trades or unfortunate injuries, it’s very likely the starting lineup for the Sacramento Kings may already be decided for this upcoming season.
Here are the five players I expect to suit up for the Sacramento Kings and take the court during tip-off in the 2021-22 NBA season.
Starting Point Guard: De’Aaron Fox
If the Kings are on a path to win more often than lose this season, that road runs through De’Aaron Fox. Sacramento desperately needs their blossoming young point guard to take that final step and become a franchise cornerstone. Already averaging 25.2 points and 7.2 assists per contest last season, Fox clearly has the statistical prowess locked down. He is on the cusp of greatness, all he needs now is to develop into an at least average three-point shooter. With a better supporting cast than in recent years, he should have the tools at his disposal necessary to start leading this team to wins.
Starting Shooting Guard: Tyrese Haliburton
Speaking of taking that next step, it’s hard to imagine what’s next for Tyrese Haliburton. As a high IQ secondary playmaker, Haliburton has all the tools in his bag to complement a primary scoring guard like Fox. He can knock down long-range shots, distribute the ball both in transition and half-court offense, and create opportunities with his defensive positioning. Although he’s on the lighter side for 6-foot-5, he’s big enough to pass as a small-ball forward to allow Sacramento to run three-guard lineups featuring Davion Mitchell when necessary.
Starting Small Forward: Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the quintessential veteran every team needs to become a winner. Barnes is a jack-of-all-trades combo forward that could slide in at either forward slot depending on the situation. If Bagley is traded, Barnes will likely play the four. If Bagley stays, we should see Barnes logging minutes at the three. His length, shooting and slashing ability, and presence on defense and the boards will be crucial for the Kings yet again this season.
Starting Power Forward: Marvin Bagley
Unless Monte McNair can swing a one-sided deal to net a star for Marvin Bagley, it makes sense for the Kings to retain Bagley and feature him in the offense. His value is currently at an all-time low so trading a former No. 2 overall selection for peanuts would just be foolish. Giving Bagley the spotlight and a starting position for his redemption tour is a smart play on both sides. If he succeeds, the Kings could flip him either at the trade deadline or next summer in a sign-and-trade—something Bagley likely desires regardless.
Starting Center: Richaun Holmes
This should come as no surprise following Richaun Holmes‘ surprise decision to sign a very team-friendly extension to stay in Sacramento. Getting paid $46.5 million over the next four years, Holmes could very well become one of the highest value contracts in the NBA in terms of production per dollar spent. While he lacks the height to become a lockdown defender in the paint, his energy and hustle will be essential in terms of revitalizing this team for a potential playoff push. As long as he remains healthy, it’s extremely unlikely that either Tristan Thompson or Alex Len threaten Holmes’ position in the starting lineup.
As for the first men off the bench, we’ll likely see Hield and Mitchell get those minutes, possibly even competing for a Sixth Man of the Year award along the way. While nothing’s set in stone just yet, it does feel like a relief that for the first time in a long time, the Sacramento Kings have more quality players than they know what to do with.