Kings Blog

The Kings now own the NBA's longest playoff drought. So what has them feeling good?

Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein, right, is fouled by Houston Rockets guard R.J. Hunter (2) on Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.
Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein, right, is fouled by Houston Rockets guard R.J. Hunter (2) on Wednesday at Golden 1 Center. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The Kings ended the 2017-18 season out of the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, now the longest streak in the NBA.

And the reality is that postseason drought will likely grow.

After beating the Houston Rockets 96-83 in the season finale Wednesday at Golden 1 Center, the Kings finished 27-55, tied with Chicago for the sixth-worst record in the NBA.

Barring phenomenal development from one of their young players, the 2018-19 Kings might be better in the standings but still are likely to finish with a losing record.

"It can be frustrating, because we're a society that wants a quick change and we want it right now," Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "It just takes time together to get that chemistry. We all want it to happen as fast as possible, and we're doing everything we can for that."

The Kings remain high on the potential of rookie guard De'Aaron Fox and are also optimistic that Harry Giles, who sat out the season recovering from knee injuries, can be a boost to the team.

Rookie Justin Jackson finished the season as the starting small forward, and Bogdan Bogdanovic showed he could be a versatile offensive threat.

Buddy Hield made strides in his second season by becoming a more willing passer and defender in addition to his scoring abilities.

"I think it all depends on the growth of the young players over the summer, who you bring in," said guard Garrett Temple. "If you were to ask me about this team, how it's built now, I would probably say another two or three years (before making the playoffs). But you never know."

Patience has been the buzzword in Sacramento, and it will continue to be a major part of the plan. That means possibly drafting another teenager to a group that had five rookies this season.

Barring trades, the Kings have a first- and second-round draft pick to add to the nucleus.

"For us to get better, we have to work hard this summer," Hield said. "We see how the teams in the West are; the West is no joke. We've got to be ready."

They'll also have to figure out how to best use their veterans, like Temple, who has a player option for next season. Temple said he hasn't decided whether to return but would like to be back if the Kings want him to return as a mentor and rotation player.

"I was happy with my role this year," Temple said. "If that's what they view me as going forward, I'm not opposed to it at all."

The Kings now have the longest stretch of postseason futility in the NBA after Minnesota clinched the final playoff spot in the Western Conference on Wednesday by defeating Denver.

The Kings believe they achieved their goal of building a healthy locker room culture, even as losses stacked up.

"There's times you're going to get on each other's nerves; you pile 50-something (losses) on top of that, it can start grating on you, and we didn't really have any of that," Joerger said. "There's not a lot of sniping. Sometimes you get frustrated with each other, but it goes away very quickly."

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