Light the Beam: How the historically terrible Kings became the NBA’s feel-good team

<span>Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/″ data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ “/></div></div></div><p><figcaption class=Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

There are the misfits, and then there are the seemingly cursed. Those franchises that live a Sisyphean existence where they’re always the butt of jokes. Up until this season, the Sacramento Kings could be called the latter. Several teams that were formed recently have worse win rates, but the Kings do most losses in NBA history, with just north of 3,200. While pundits generally approve of their offseason move last summer, few would have predicted Sacramento would finish third in the Western Conference in late March. These aren’t your mother’s Sacramento Kings. So how did they turn it around?

A big swing

It’s fairly rare for historically underperforming and poorly run franchises to make big swings and see how they work (see the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Chips in the center push to Rudy Gobert). And the Kings faced a bevy of setbacks when they sent their standout young point guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers for big man Domantas Sabonis. However, this was one of the even rarer occurrences where the momentous trade not only worked for the kings but appeared to be a win-win for both sides. Haliburton is thriving with the Pacers, and Sabonis has achieved the Kings’ goal of unlocking their franchise cornerstone, speed demon point guard De’Aaron Fox.

Related: Michael Jordan’s big score: Why his tenure as NBA owner is far from a failure

The chemistry between the two is electric and Fox said that Sabonis is the best screensetter he has ever played with. After years of criticism for underperformance, it seems all Fox really needed was a more suitable cast member and supporting actor. And a change of scenery has also proved fruitful for Sabonis, putting him in the All-NBA conversation. It also landed him on a team that will finish in the top three in its conference for the first time in its career.

A great trainer

In many ways, great NBA coaches are only as good as their players. But it’s also true that without a great captain to steer the ship, even the most talented roster can easily lose track. And Mike Brown has provided a capable and impressive lead this season.

Brown has led the Kings to an all-time offensive season: They’re currently on a smoldering fire 118.9 offensive ratingwhich, if it applies, would be the best character for a season because such numbers were tracked. Yes, even better than the offensive “We’ve never seen anything like it” by Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant Nets (118.3).

Brown, who has been in the ranks of NBA coaching since the 1990s, earned many of his offensive stripes on Steve Kerr’s staff at the bay with the Golden State Warriors (a team that is no stranger to even record-breaking offensive skills). When he took the job at Sacramento last year, many wondered why a coach with Brown’s resume would want to lead a team with so much institutional baggage. But he clearly saw serious potential that many others didn’t have. As a result, Vegas currently has Brown as the clear favorite for Coach of the Year and it’s well deserved.

The Supporting Actors

The Sabonis-Fox pair is dazzling, but basketball is a team sport and the Kings have proven they have a sneaky supporting cast, too. Always a perimeter threat but not necessarily a cornerstone with the Atlanta Hawks, Kevin Huerter has been on fire since arriving in Sacramento this season. Malik Monk caused quite a stir during his tenure with a struggling Los Angeles Lakers team last season, but they ultimately weren’t willing to pay him and he’s found a perfect home with these exuberant, fast-paced kings. The front office took a lot of criticism for passing Purdue’s Jaden Ivey in favor of Iowa’s Keegan Murray in last year’s draft, and while long-term results have yet to be confirmed, Murray was anything but a bust. Even Harrison Barnes, an often-overlooked veteran, has averaged 15 points per game this season.

“Light the Beam”

Sacramento fans have been one of the most devoted and enthusiastic groups in the sport for some time. It’s been an amazing 17 years since the Kings made it through the postseason, but fans at the Golden 1 Center weathered the storm. With that in mind, and in one of the greatest marketing geniuses in recent sports history, the Kings began emitting a giant beam of purple light from the top of their arena after each win, and the Light the Beam campaign was born. Sure, the Kings were already destined to be one of the feel-good stories of the year – Vegas had them with comically long +25k odds to win the Pacific Division into the season – and everyone loves an underdog. But the brilliance of the Light the Beam campaign cannot be underestimated. His cheer is contagious and has created one of the catchiest NBA slogans since the “We Believe” Warriors.

Still, would it be a shock if the Kings won the championship this year? Sure, especially since her historic offense comes with a pretty goddamn defense. But it is definitely possible. And breaking through a nearly 20-year playoff drought with home field advantage is nothing to scoff at. It’s been a long, dark winter of mediocrity (and sometimes worse) in Sacramento. But this year, the Golden 1 Center will be positively lit. Light the beam, indeed.

Source :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *