The Sacramento Kings’ newest player is ready to get to work. Chris Duarte, former Indiana Pacer, was traded to the Kings in exchange for two second-round picks. While the trade has been finalized for just a few days, Duarte is ready to take on the challenge and compete with his new team.
Chris Duarte, 26, had an NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team season two years ago, averaging 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals per game with 43/37/80 shooting splits. While Duarte was plagued with injuries last season, resulting in a decrease in stats all across the board, he says his ankle is “100%.”
In an introductory press conference, Chris Duarte talks about how he feels about his opportunity in Sacramento (via @SeanCunningham | Twitter):
"“I’m just excited for this new journey, looking forward to working with the team. Great organization, great fanbase, getting back together with Domas, I’m just excited overall.”"
While Duarte fell out of the rotation last season for the Pacers, Sacramento fans believe he will have a positive impact on the Kings. Whether he was brought in for guard depth or to play backup small forward, Duarte has the trust of the Kings’ organization and fanbase.
Coming to Sacramento allows Chris Duarte to reunite with Pacers teammate Domantas Sabonis, as Indiana traded him to the Kings midway through Duarte’s rookie year. Although they spent less than one season together, their relationship is strong:
"“Domas took me under his wing since day one when I got to Indiana… I really appreciate him. Great dude, great person… I can sit here and talk about him for hours.”"
While the duo has a relationship off-the-court, Duarte played significantly better when he was on the court with Sabonis in Indiana, as he talks about their in-game connection:
"“We have good chemistry, good connection. We have a good connection on the court, I just know how to play with him.”"
Kings fans should be excited for the young duo to reunite, as it is great to see a new player come in and be this excited to play with his new team.
The Sacramento Kings are coming off a fantastic season, and many fans do not think these “minor” off-season moves will make the team better for next season. Chris Duarte to the Kings is likely the most underrated NBA off-season move. Sacramento got a 26-year-old, proven scorer and shooter for just two second-round picks.
Chris Duarte speaks on what he can bring to the team, even after a successful season:
"“I’m excited to get together with the team and bring whatever I can to the table. I am willing to do whatever I need to do to help this team.”"
The young guard has expressed his excitement on Twitter as well:
Chris Duarte will be a perfect fit into the Sacramento Kings offense, as his shooting and off-ball ability will make him valuable. Duarte will likely back up Harrison Barnes at small forward, but he will surely get a good amount of minutes on the floor alongside Domantas Sabonis.
Sacramento fans should not downplay this underrated pickup for the Kings, as a healthy Chris Duarte could end up taking the team to the next level.