Share this story...
Latest News

Sacramento Kings Fans, Be Careful What You Wish For

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

by Matt George – Sports 1140 KHTK

Following their 95-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger told members of the media that, going forward, the Kings will rest two to three veterans a night to open up playing time for the younger players.

The Kings have a total of five veterans on their complete roster; Kosta Koufos, Garrett Temple, Zach Randolph, George Hill, and Vince Carter.

“It’s not an easy conversation,” Joerger said. “They’re very professional, they’re competitive. All of them are rotation players on a playoff team. So to ask those guys to step aside at different times is not enjoyable for me. They handled it well, they’ve been pros.”

For many fans, Joerger’s announcement was welcome news. The large majority of the Sacramento faithful are willing to suffer another losing season if it means a good, long look at the young pieces that will hopefully make up a bright future. Plus, another high draft pick couldn’t hurt, seeing as how the Kings are without one in 2019.

But I don’t think Sacramento Kings fans completely understand how bad it can get. And there is a very good chance they will find out soon.

Before the Sacramento Kings vs San Antonio Spurs game on January 8th, I was sitting court side with long-time TV analyst and former Kings head coach Jerry Reynolds. Sensing a move like this coming, we were discussing the potential repercussions of putting more on the shoulders of the young players. We both agreed that there is no experience like in-game experience, and that the “kids” certainly would benefit from more time on the floor. But Jerry provided a very interesting perspective that many wouldn’t think to worry about.

He told me about the importance of developing good habits. That, while they would be getting more experience, there is a risk that it could be the wrong kind. There is such a thing as bad experience that can come from young players being thrust into  situations that they just aren’t physically or mentally prepared for.

There have been a handful of games this season where Sacramento has rested a few of the vets and ran with a predominately young lineup. Most of those games have been painful to watch. Games like the 110-83 loss to the Washington Wizards, the 126-80 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the 112-87 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, and the recent 131-111 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

In all four of those games, the younger players played a large bulk of the minutes. And three of those four were in Sacramento. Fans left the Golden 1 Center angry, frustrated, and disappointed in the “direction” of the franchise, having spent most of the game itself booing and sitting on their hands.

The reality is that Jerry Reynolds is absolutely correct. With this new “youth movement” plan, that so many fans are rallying behind, the Kings are running the serious risk of allowing their future talent to develop bad habits from blowout losses. Especially on nights with Zach Randolph and Garrett Temple on the bench, chances are Sacramento will fall victim to more double-digit defeats.

I’ve always felt that guys like De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason, Bogdon Bogdonovic, Skal Labissiere, and Buddy Hield, benefit more from less minutes in a close game, facing the best that the other team has to offer, than from bulk minutes in blowouts against the guys at the bottom of their opponent’s rotation.

I don’t believe the Sacramento Kings are intentionally tanking. With the talent in the Western Conference, and their large number of young players, they lose games at a high rate just fine on their own. And that’s alright. We all knew that was going to be the case this year. But learning and understanding the game of basketball at the NBA level goes far beyond giving a young player 35 minutes a night.

The Kings still have a long way to go. This move could either speed up the process, or set it even further back.