Sacramento won the hearts of many during the 2022-23 NBA season, as the Kings consistently lit the beam at Golden 1 Center en route to their first postseason appearance since 2006.
Kings forward Harrison Barnes cherished every second of his team’s drought-ending run last season, telling NBC Sports California’s Kyle Draper at Kings Media Day on Oct. 2 what making the playoffs for the first time in Sacramento meant to him.
“Man, last year was everything coming together,” Barnes shared with Draper. “Last year, to be able to see it, to have the group come together. Having guys enjoying themselves. The city and the fanbase. Being rewarded for their years of hard work. It was really a pleasure to be a part of.”
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After winning an NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors and playing two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Barnes paid his dues in Sacramento. The 11-year veteran was a part of five losing seasons, falling short of 40 wins each time.
Ending the infamous playoff drought was a long time coming for the Kings' franchise and fans, and Barnes discussed the anticipation going into last year.
“Everybody knew that the drought would end, they just didn’t know who would be here for that,” Barnes explained to Draper. “As a guy who’s been here for a few years, to be a part of that, after going through that. A guy like Malik (Monk) or Kevin (Huerter), you could kind of explain it to them, but they don’t quite know what it was like. (De’Aaron) Fox knows. I guess Fox would be the only one.”
Most of Sacramento’s roster wasn’t around for the dog days, but Barnes knows this team is talented and should focus on what’s to come, citing the competition ahead.
“The West got tough,” Barnes made clear to Draper. “I think for us, it’s a matter of going out there and continuing what we did last season. Everyone’s got an excuse. Everyone can say, ‘Oh, we weren’t healthy. We got better.’ For us, it’s like, let’s continue to go out there and play our style of basketball. Continue to be efficient as we were offensively and improve defensively.”
The Kings went 48-34 last season and dominated the NBA offensively, setting records on that end of the floor.
But as Barnes noted, they must improve on the defensive side of the ball if Sacramento wants to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Kings have high expectations for this season and have a sturdy foundation to build on, as getting over the hump of the playoffs drought was huge for the franchise.
As Barnes described, making the postseason meant a lot to Sacramento, and the Kings plan on making more history.
The Kings can begin to make more memories on Wednesday in Utah's Delta Center, where Sacramento will face the Jazz at 6 p.m.