The Sacramento Kings have a depth problem

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers / Harry How/GettyImages

Every NBA team needs stars. Without at least one clear-cut star, it is tough to win anything in a league that features the best basketball players in the world. Stars can’t carry the team through everything, however. Good role players and depth are just as important to build a winning team.

The Kings have stars. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are both All-Stars and All-NBA players. They are great at what they do. Combine that with Keegan Murray, who is still developing, and Malik Monk, who plays his role as the sixth man so well, and you have a solid basis.

The Kings’ main problem is defense. We all know that, but depth is also an important issue. It looked solid to start the season. 

Davion Mitchell was supposed to take a leap in his third season, Chris Duarte looked like a promising 3-and-D prospect, Sasha Vezenkov joined the team as the reigning EuroLeague MVP and JaVale McGee added much-needed size and rim protection to the mix. 

None of that really worked out. Mitchell, McGee, and Duarte are barely playing, and when they do, they struggle to contribute to winning basketball. Vezenkov is getting used to the NBA but has a very short leash. Almost every mistake sends him back to the bench, and it is difficult to have an impact that way. 

That leaves the Kings with Trey Lyles, Keon Ellis, Kessler Edwards, Colby Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Alex Len on the bench. Out of those six, only Lyles and Ellis are playing meaningful minutes, and the latter is on a two-way contract. 

Len actually broke the rotation early in November but then suffered an ankle sprain that kept him out until last night. Edwards, who is the Kings’ best defender other than Murray, Jones, and Toscano-Anderson are not playing at all. 

That means the Kings’ depth is pretty much non-existent. 

The Kings’ lack of depth is a real problem

When your top seven players are playing well and staying healthy, a lack of depth is something you can navigate. The Kings did it last season, but this time around things are different. 

Keegan Murray has improved a lot since last season and that is great to see. On the other hand, however, Kevin Huerter is having a pretty bad season, canceling out Murray’s improvement. Plus, Harrison Barnes’ spot has been a concern for quite some time, calling for a more defensive-minded upgrade. 

Lacking depth makes it tough for the Kings to make up for any shortcomings from the main guys. Huerter, for example, is having a rough season, but there is no one to pick up the slack. 

Monk could easily start in his place. He is arguably the better player anyway, but the Kings need someone who can come off the bench, score, and create for others. If Monk isn’t there to do that, then who will? Keon Ellis is not ready to shoulder that responsibility yet, and Chris Duarte and Davion Mitchell aren’t even in the rotation. 

The Kings simply do not have the depth to make major lineup changes like that unless someone has a surprise breakout/bounce-back. If they want to get to the next level, the Kings have to make a big move. Getting a starting-level 3-and-D wing would be the best fit, but those are hard to come by. 

If no one who will push them to the next level is available at the trade deadline, some better depth pieces could at least hold the Kings over until the summer. Duarte, Mitchell, and Edwards are all expendable and could be used to make a deal of that caliber. 

Last night in Portland, the Kings’ bench only scored 17 points while the short-handed Blazers reserves erupted for 65. Something has to change with the Kings’ bench because it is difficult to survive even one bad night from the main guys without solid backups.