The Kings’ 2018-19 season ended with optimism.
Facing a meager over/under of 25.5 wins, Sacramento surged to 39 wins – its best record in 13 years. Under Dave Joerger, the Kings played a fast and fun style. De’Aaron Fox made historic improvements. Buddy Hield broke out. Several other young players showed promise.
Sure, the Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season – matching the second-longest playoff drought in NBA history. But they were on track to end the skid soon enough.
Except, of course that’s not how it went in Sacramento.
The Kings were eliminated from the postseason chase yesterday, ensuring a 14th straight season outside the playoffs. That alone is now NBA’s the second-longest-ever postseason drought, breaking a tie with the Timberwolves (2005-17). Only the Buffalo Braves/San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers’ 15-year non-playoff streak (1977-91) is longer.
The Suns could still reach 10 straight years outside the playoffs, but they’re still in the race this season.
The Kings might not be far from climbing this list, either.
Their future looks far bleaker than a year ago. Sacramento fired Joerger to hire Luke Walton, who has underwhelmed. Buddy Hield signed a lucrative contract extension then had a rough season. Fox progressed, though he didn’t make the desired leap into stardom. Other young players had ups and downs. Luka Doncic casts an even larger shadow from Dallas. The Kings’ organizational turmoil continues.
This was a feel-bad season in Sacramento, anyway. All the preceding losing only adds to the misery.
The Kings enter next season with one last chance to avoid the longest playoff drought in NBA history, and they do have a chance. But there’s only pessimism now.