The Sacramento Kings paraded one heck of a core in the early 2000s. Even without a championship, there’s no denying that it was one of most memorable and entertaining teams in NBA history.

Unfortunately, the Kings franchise hasn’t done much after that era was over. They’ve missed 13 consecutive postseasons and have since turned into California’s forgotten pro basketball team, right behind the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers.

It will most likely stay that way for several more years, but at least, there’s now a semblance of hope for the Kings, which is a slight change from the last decade’s norm.

The Kings currently hold a 10-11 record, two games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. While it’s not good on the surface, they are actually picking up the pieces. After a rough four-game losing streak in mid-January, the team has answered back by winning five of their next six games. It’s the momentum they’re currently working with.

Let’s look at some key takeaways over their last six outings:

Defensive effort

Though one of the bottom-ranked defenses in the league (29th in points allowed, 30th in defensive rating), the Kings have turned up the heat. Since January 23rd (Manila time), they are giving up a decent 108.3 points and only allowing opponents to shoot 43.1% from the floor. Both are not mindblowing numbers, but they are notches below the league averages.

Road warriors

The Kings won all but one of their four-game road trip, and it’s worth noting that that lone defeat was by just a single point.

Playing on the road is still not in its natural form due to the limited seating capacity in arenas, but best believe that the grind of the travel and everything in between is very much there. Nevertheless, the recent run on the road is encouraging as it’s one of the team’s best in a while.

De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, and Tyrese Haliburton

Three players are headlining the Kings’ surge. De’Aaron Fox is arguably the most talented player on the team and Harrison Barnes is the resident veteran in the starting line-up – he’s filled with playoff experience too.

Barnes is continuing to make up for his uneventful campaign last year and he’s posting 21.2 points, 6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game on 52.6% shooting in his last six.

Fox, meanwhile, is at 26 points and 8.3 assists in that stretch, and it includes dishing 10 or more dimes in his last two. It’s a good counter to his rather lukewarm start this season.

Checkout his superb performance against the New Orleans Pelicans over the weekend:

Let’s not forget about rookie Tyrese Haliburton, either. The current Western Conference Rookie of the Month is averaging 11.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting 42.3% from three in his first campaign. He has been crucial to most of the Kings’ wins this season.

All of that should be a good confidence booster moving forward. Their next challenge is hosting the Denver Nuggets and its leading MVP candidate, Nikola Jokic. The Kings may have two wins over them from early in the season, but Denver have since rounded back into form.

They’ll meet this Sunday, February 7, at 6:00 AM, Manila time.