After they finally returned to the playoffs and ended the longest postseason drought in league history, Kings fans had high expectations for this team. De’Aaron Fox played at an All-Star level, Domantas Sabonis looked like the perfect addition, and they finally drafted another fitting player in Keegan Murray.
Things were looking up for a franchise that had been stuck at the bottom of the league for years. The Kings as a team did not fail to meet those expectations this season. Yes, they have lost some ugly games and didn’t make a huge jump, but they still have a winning record and are competing for the playoffs in a Western Conference that looks much tougher than last season.
The Kings are an imperfect team, however, and have plenty of issues to work out. One of them is their depth, an issue that stems from several players not playing up to expectations.
Going into training camp, the team looked deep enough to withstand injuries and improve internally. Perception changed quickly, though, so let’s look at three Kings’ offseason additions who are not playing as well as we thought they would.
3. Chris Duarte
Chris Duarte showed great potential in his rookie season but then took a step back due to injuries. The Kings got him from the Pacers, where he played with Domantas Sabonis, in a low-risk move, hoping to add a 3-and-D prospect to a roster in dire need of some solid defenders.
Amid Kevin Huerter’s shooting struggles, he even started some games but it did not go as expected. Not shooting well from three and racking up fouls on defense, Duarte failed to bring what the Kings needed from him and fell out of the rotation.
This is obviously a shame for his career but also for the team. The Kings really could have used a solid defender on the perimeter and some wing depth. With Duarte and Kessler Edwards both not playing, there is not much behind Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray at the small forward position.
Sometimes, players just don’t work out, and maybe Duarte would be better served on a team that is not trying to win and has developmental minutes available.