Kings guard Buddy Hield on Monday became the team’s first rookie since DeMarcus Cousins in 2011 to earn All-Rookie First Team honors.
Kings forward Skal Labissiere also received votes.
The six-year gap represents the struggles and misses the Kings have had in the draft since Cousins was the fifth overall pick in 2010.
If the Kings are to show signs of progress, they should start seeing more players on the All-Rookie teams as soon as next season, based on the reent NBA draft thaat put four more rookies on the roster, headlined by highly touted point guard De’Aaron Fox. Bogdan Bogdanovic would be a fifth player eligible for All-Rookie honors, assuming he leaves Europe and signs with the team this summer.
Willie Cauley-Stein was an All-Rookie second-team selection in 2016, but before that guard Isaiah Thomas was a second-team selection in 2012, the last King to make a team.
Making an All-Rookie team is no predictor of future success, but for a team that had a draft pick in the top 10 for the last 11 seasons (the Kings traded down in 2016, but entered the draft with the eighth pick), it’s not unreasonable to expect to see more Kings show up for the honor or the Risings Stars game at All-Star weekend.
Those accolades don’t mean the Kings are headed for a championship, but they could be an encouraging sign that things are going in the right direction.
Since Cousins, the Kings have had only one player participate in the NBA Rising Stars game – Thomas. Hield did last season, but was still playing for New Orleans before being traded to Sacramento as part of the Cousins deal.
Hield was Western Conference Rookie of the Month in March with the Kings, his second time winning the award, and averaged 15.1 points with the Kings in 25 games, 10.6 points overall. Hield was Rookie of the Month for December with New Orleans.