Kings’ Domantas Sabonis is playing right into his haters’ hands

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics
Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The Domantas Sabonis doubters have been loud all season long. Plenty of people had something bad to say about Sabonis on social media, on podcasts, and in writing. He is a defensive liability. He is only a regular-season player. He is overrated.

Kings fans have defended their big man relentlessly, and rightfully so. He put together a great regular season, breaking several franchise and league records and putting up numbers we hadn’t seen since Wilt Chamberlain. 

Lately, it has been more difficult to defend him, however. 

The Kings need more from Sabonis right now

Sacramento is a play-in team. By now, we can all accept that. It is disappointing after last season’s success, but not yet the worst thing in the world. The standings in the West are incredibly tight, and the Kings could still fall into the bottom half of the Play-In Tournament. 

That would be disastrous, and the Kings need big contributions from everyone to stay afloat, especially Sabonis. Malik Monk might not be an All-Star or All-NBA player, but he has been one of the Kings’ two most reliable scorers all season long. 

Every team needs a couple of players who can just go and get a bucket when the offense isn’t flowing. For the Kings, that is the Kentucky duo of Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. With Monk out, Fox is stranded on an island all by himself. 

Sabonis is playing right into his haters’ hands

To save their playoff hopes the Kings need to find a way to survive without Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter. That entails the supporting cast stepping up and the stars playing like superstars. 

It worked for two games. Against the Utah Jazz Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray stepped up, while Davion Mitchell and Trey Lyles were huge against the Clippers. Fox has been good too, especially last night against the Celtics. 

Knowing that his team desperately needed a win, he did everything in his power to keep the game close. Scoring 40 points, he put the team on his back and got the Kings back into the game. Usually, Monk would have been right there with him, helping with the scoring load. 

Last night, no one filled that void. It should have been Sabonis. He is the team’s second star after all. Sabonis’ stat line looks solid with 16 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal, but it was not enough. 

The Kings had virtually no inside presence, and 16 points from one of your stars in a game they could have won with some more buckets simply isn’t enough. Sabonis averages almost 20 points a game for the season but has only scored 20 or more points twice over the last 10 games. 

Sure, the double-double streak is impressive, but the Kings are fighting for their lives right now. They need someone other than Fox to elevate their game, and Sabonis has been painfully quiet lately, failing to step up when it matters the most. 

Teams have figured out how to guard Sabonis by now. They pack the paint and dare him to go right instead of left. The Kings’ big man has not responded well lately, trying to force his way to the left instead of going right and losing the ball in traffic.

Sabonis is an incredibly talented player, and this is his chance to step up and prove that he is more than just a good regular-season player. The postseason hasn’t started yet, but this stretch is just as important for the Kings.