3 Reasons this Sacramento Kings season wasn’t a total failure

Apr 19, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) has the
Apr 19, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) has the / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2022-23 season was magical for Kings fans and players alike. After 16 long seasons of losing, the team finally returned to the playoffs and battled the then-reigning champions in a tough seven-game series. The stage seemed to be set for years of playoff runs and successful teams playing in Sacramento. 

That dream fell apart quickly, as the Kings fell just one game short of making the playoffs this season. Obviously, that is a massive disappointment. The team was supposed to take a step forward this season, not backward. Playoff experience is incredibly important to building long-term success, and the Kings’ young core is missing out on that this year.

There are other ripple effects of missing the playoffs as well. First of all, Malik Monk’s free agency is coming up. If he knew for sure that he’d be returning to a playoff team, he might be content with the money the Kings can offer him. Now, he might just as well try his luck somewhere else for more money. 

Secondly, the Kings’ pick situation is looking rather sad. Missing the playoffs means the top-14 protected first-round pick they owe the Hawks does not convey, and they cannot trade any of their 2025-27 firsts. 

There were some bright spots to the season, however, so let’s look at three reasons this Kings season wasn’t a total failure. 

3. Keegan Murray’s growth 

The Kings are still in desperate need of a third star next to De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Keegan Murray could become that eventually. He has shown flashes of his All-Star potential several times this season, but we have to remember that he is only in his second season as a pro. Few players can cruise through a season without growing pains so early in their careers. 

Despite the growing pains, Murray has already shown noticeable improvement compared to his rookie season. Defensively, he has morphed from a target into a weapon. Last season, teams were hunting him. Now, Mike Brown feels comfortable putting Murray on the other team’s best scorer. 

On the other end of the floor, Murray has still been hesitant at times but overall looked much more confident and aggressive. As a rookie, he was mostly just a catch-and-shoot threat from three. While he excelled at that, the Kings needed more from him, especially once Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter went down with season-ending injuries. 

Murray has shown real growth offensively, putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim rather than just relying on the three. Now, he has to tighten his handle and work on his playmaking skills. Next season will be a big one for the Kings and Keegan Murray. The front office is under real pressure to build a team that can contend in the West, and he will play a big role in that.