The Kings won the Pacific Division last season, finishing as the Western Conference’s No. 3 playoff seed with a 48-34 record.
But this season, can the Kings be the outright best NBA team in California?
After only seeing a few games, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes the Kings are better than the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers and explained his reasons to Molly Qerim and Shannon Sharpe on Mondays episode of "First Take.”
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“The best NBA team in the state of California,” Smith pondered out loud to Qerim and Sharpe. “I think, for the moment, we have to give it to the Sacramento Kings. I look at the Sacramento Kings, particularly, them just beating the Los Angeles Lakers with Anthony Davis and LeBron James having such big games, and I just say to myself, ‘Yo, this team is on the rise. They’re coming.’”
Sacramento is in fact coming, as the Kings are chasing more than just an NBA playoffs appearance this season.
And while De’Aaron Fox recovers from an ankle sprain, Sacramento generally has better availability from its roster compared to rival contenders.
Smith explained why he thinks the Kings are better-suited for the 82-game schedule than the other California teams, thus giving them an edge.
“I’m still leery on the Warriors because I think they need additional size," Smith emphasized to Qerim and Sharpe. "You know I don’t trust that Anthony Davis is going to give you 65 games. And I damn sure don’t trust Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to be healthy. I’m going with the youth movement right now. I’m looking at the Sacramento Kings.”
Besides typically being healthier than the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers, the Kings are a much younger team.
Sacramento’s stars, Fox and Domantas Sabonis, are respectively 25 and 27 years old, while Keegan Murray is 23, Malik Monk is 25 and Kevin Huerter is 25.
But as always, the NBA season is unpredictable, as injuries, trades and rotations are always a work in progress.
So far in Smith’s eyes, California basketball runs through the capital and should do so for much of this season.