Are the Kings for real? Sacramento has won it’s last five games and find themselves with a bevy of young fantasy basketball risers. The difference between this season and last is night and day.
Last year the Kings were at the bottom in terms of pace. This season, Dave Joerger has them running at a pace that ranks them 2nd in the league. The Kings also bolstered their scoring, averaging nearly 120 points per game compared to a measly 98.8 last year. Sacramento is taking the league by storm and the three players listed below are a big reason why.
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Fantasy Basketball: We Three Kings
De’Aaron Fox, Point Guard
Fox has had his foot on the gas all season. capped off with a 31-point, 15-assist triple-double Thursday night. Granted it was against the Hawks (everyone goes off on the Hawks) but he made a number of spectacular plays. Fox is a pure speedster, perfect for a team that ranks second in pace.
As long as the Kings keep running, Fox will be finishing fast breaks around the rim, where he attempts over 80% of his shots. His 48% shooting shows his ability to absorb contact and still finish at the rim, an improvement from his shaky 41% last season. Fox is also getting to the line, attempting 7.2 free throws per game. A boost from his 2.7 a year ago. His only damper in fantasy basketball thus far is his free throw percentage. But he shot a respectable 72.3% last year and his shot mechanics are solid. His current 67% shooting should see a boost soon.
Fox is living up to his high draft choice, chipping in nearly 5 boards, 8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Considering players like Dennis Smith, Markelle Fultz, and Kris Dunn were drafted ahead of Fox, fantasy basketball owners should be pleased to catch him in a possible breakout season. Enjoy the ride, it’s going to be fun.
Buddy Hield, Shooting Guard
Hield was the main return piece in the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Fans and analysts scoffed at the idea that the Kings viewed him as the second coming of Stephen Curry. Yet here we are, eating our own words. At least for now.
Not only is Hield flirting with his first 20-PPG season, but he’s also contributing in other areas which has fantasy basketball owners rejoicing. Yes, the percentages are high enough that you should expect it to even out. But Fox has been such a threat inside the paint, that Hield has been left open on the perimeter. Fox then finds him on the perimeter and he has a wide open shot.
Hield is taking 4.1 threes in catch and shoot situations. 3.4 of his 5.1 treys per game are wide open, leading to a Curry-esque 48.9% rate from deep. That is mostly due to Fox’s penetration. Teams will eventually catch on that they need to guard Hield out on the perimeter. Still Buddy could be in line for a solid fantasy basketball season.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Center
Cauley-Stein has enjoyed an outstanding start to his NBA campaign. Despite a loaded frontcourt in Sacramento, Cauley-Stein seems to be the one constant. WCS is part of the Kings’ three most used lineups and seven of the top eight.
He’s making the most of his opportunity, nailing two extra shots per game on just over two added attempts. Not only that, he’s chipping in a modest 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals to go with his 16.8 points and 8.7 boards. Fantasy basketball owners should also expect a positive regression in terms of blocks. Cauley-Stein averaged a swat per game in the NBA and was a good shot blocker in college. The 0.3 blocks are bound to increase.
Here’s the only question with Cauley-Stein. What happens when the Kings decide to take a deeper look at Marvin Bagley?
Bagley has been playing well in limited time but looks to affect Nemanja Bjelica’s minutes more. Bagley’s top three most played rotations have him directly taking Bjelica’s spot. He’s also playing alongside Cauley-Stein in two of those lineups and next to Harry Giles in the third. Cauley-Stein’s minutes look to be locked in for the season. Pretty nice for a guy who was picked outside the top 30 centers in fantasy basketball drafts.
Coming out of college, no one touted Marvin Bagley as a three-point shooter. Though he’s still attempting a three per game, he’s not generating as much spacing as Nemanja Bjelica. If Bagley gets more comfortable and becomes a threat shooting from deep, he could start to see his minutes increase. It helps that coach Joerger coached a similar player in Zach Randolph. It should ease Bagley’s inclusion in the lineup as the season progresses. If Bagley does crack that lineup permanently, Sacramento could have themselves a solid squad. Owners have to remain patient with the second overall draft pick.
It seems like the whole NBA world counted Sacramento out before the season started. The years of turmoil may have something to do with it. But the Kings have been up for the challenge. In a loaded West, they’ve taken down the Thunder in Westbrook’s return and had a close affair with the Jazz in their season opener.
Sacramento came in with very little expectations, and have blown them out of the water so far. Even if it’s hard to envision them to keep piling up wins, their pace and top 5 scoring in the league should allow for each one of Fox, Hield and WCS to get their fair share of looks. Fantasy basketball owners should try engineering a deal for these three before they solidify their new-found value.
Got any fantasy basketball questions? Feel free to ask me on twitter @JPBalladier
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