Many laughed at Vlade Divac and his moves over the past few years. Since he became Sacramento’s general manager, the majority of the experts and fans didn’t have some nice words about this guy.
Still, with a mixture of stubbornness, hard work and long-term planning, the former center of LA Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and the Kings proved his worth.
The vision he had is slowly becoming a reality, as the Kings play better and better every day. They have one of the youngest teams in the league and without a doubt, the youngest core, led by one of the most promising coaches David Joerger.
Sacramento is the nicest surprise this season. With 15 wins and 12 losses, they are in the playoff zone, and everything they need to do is to continue performing like this.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) December 13, 2018
Some of the biggest names in this league already recognized their potential and didn’t hesitate to talk about it. One of them was Kevin Durant.
“I feel like the West, I feel like the teams that are supposed to make the next jump in their progression, like Sac, they’re making that next jump,” Durant said. “I like Sac.”
The Warriors and the Kings are playing this Friday, and Durant probably remembered their last meeting, which ended in a dramatic style. The Warriors won 117-116, but only after Klay Thompson’s putback in the final seconds.
Last year the series was tied, 2-2, with teams winning games on the road, and losing at home. Sacramento became one of the few teams over the past several years who had two wins at the Oracle Arena in one season.
Most of these successes are made because of David Joerger, who adapted his style of play to Divac’s vision, and selected the team together with the current GM. Instead of low-paced basketball, his Kings are now one of the most attractive teams in the whole league.
Durant commented on Joerger’s transformation, and said that the greatness of one coach is measured with his ability to allow a player to use his opportunity adequately.
“I see a coach like that and he’s got these guys playing a different way than he’s used to coaching, because he’s more of a grit and grind, throw it inside, high-low type of coach with Marc [Gasol] and Z-Bo [Zach Randolph],” KD spoke, and added “They’re playing fast. He’s putting the ball in his players’ hands and giving them the opportunity to take advantage of the opportunity they have and putting them in great positions to be successful. I’m like, that’s the sign of a good coach and you can tell his players like that.”
And really, Sacramento plays one of the fastest basketballs in the NBA. The reason for such a thing is the fact that coach Joerger rotates players a lot during games. If you check the statistic, one thing is very striking. Kings have 12 players with 10+ minutes on the floor every night. And that is without Harry Giles who is half a minute short of reaching that limit. Eight guys are playing 20 or more minutes.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 13, 2018
There is one more thing. Bagley, Cauley-Stein, and Giles can run the floor like just a few big players in the NBA. High mobility in combination with their youth is another reason why Kings play attractive and fast.
The majority of the pundits set the limit for the number of Sacramento’s win this season at 25. If they continue to win at this tempo, Kings are going to reach 44 victories, which would be the first season above .500 after 2006. Back then they entered the playoffs for the last time also.
Of course, we can expect many ups and downs from these young players. That is a part of growing up. But when they grow up, Vlade Divac, who, as we said, was a laughing stock because of his vision, will have the last laugh.
And that day is not far away at all.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.