While the rumor mill continues to churn out juicy gossip about disgruntled stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (both plotting their escape from Brooklyn), the NBA began its summer slate this weekend with the Kings, Lakers, Warriors and Heat among teams competing in the fourth annual California Classic. Led by 17 points from undrafted rookie Keon Ellis, Sacramento improved to 2-0 in Summer League, scoring a lopsided 81-64 victory over Miami.
Fans leaving Sunday’s game at Chase Center, home arena of the recently crowned NBA champion Golden State Warriors, were excited by the win, promising a big year for the long-suffering Kings in 2022-23.
You know the Kings have weathered some lean years when the prospect of a 40-win season—keep in mind that’s still a losing record—is seen as a cause for celebration. Credit Kings fans for keeping realistic expectations, cognizant of the team’s 16-year playoff drought, the league’s longest active dry spell. Sacramento last reached the 40-win threshold in 2006. Their leading scorer that year was Mike Bibby (21.1 points per game), who last played professionally in 2012.
For the first time in years, Sacramento enters the offseason with real reason for optimism, led by an exciting young core of De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and fourth overall pick Keegan Murray, the latter enjoying a spectacular debut with 26 points on efficient 10-of-14 shooting (he hit 4-of-5 from downtown) in Saturday’s opener. The California Classic will conclude Tuesday in San Francisco followed by tournaments in Salt Lake City and Vegas later this month.