I’d like to think I can admit when I’m wrong, and I would like to do so now. I lambasted the Sacramento Kings for trading Tyrese Haliburton last season for Domantas Sabonis, because I didn’t know how he and De’Aaron Fox would fit together in a team lacking good shooters. It didn’t help that Haliburton had 17 assists in his final game in a Kings uniform.
Well, it turns out Monte McNair had a plan for those shooters all along. Trading for Kevin Huerter and signing Malik Monk filled the need for floor spacers, and the Kings have now become the darlings of the internet with their early season surge. They sit among the guaranteed playoff spots with a 9-6 record, and have played a fun brand of basketball that’s ended with the latest NBA meme: THE BEAM.
De’Aaron Fox has been the leader of the current surge, thriving in his role as the unquestioned floor general with averages of 25.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.1 steals while only turning the ball over 2.7 times a game. He has made full use of the spacing that Huerter and Monk create, along with the attention two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis commands, to run riot against all comers.
Sabonis has been another excellent contributor to the Kings’ early success with averages of 17.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and six assists a game. The constant passing threat from both Fox and Sabonis, along with the latter’s penchant for screen assists, has confused opposing defenses so far.
The Kings’ current six-game winning streak, a feat not achieved since 2004, has earned Fox the honor of being named the Western Conference Player of the Week. His counterpart for the award is someone that you may also be familiar with.
Haliburton has also been thriving in his role in the east, with his Pacers also in the playoff hunt early on with a 10-6 record. Unleashed and not bothered by having to share the court with another elite point guard, Haliburton is proving that he was a draft steal.
The two guards are balling out and showing that it is indeed possible for both teams to win a trade. It may not have made a lot of sense to me last February, but it sure is working out for both sides now. Considering that Haliburton reportedly cried when he found out he was traded, I can only wish him the best in Indiana, and he looks like he’s proving to everyone that he’s worth it.
An early season surge is one thing. We’ll have to see if the Kings and Pacers can sustain their success, but especially for a Sacramento team that hasn’t made the postseason in 16 years, even a play-in berth will be considered a success. Yes, the grand prize of Victor Wembanyama is worth tanking for, but plenty of us Kings fans are happy to watch us be able to compete this year.