SACRAMENTO -- Death and taxes. Those are the only two certainties in life, according to Benjamin Franklin.
The Sacramento Kings missing the NBA playoffs didn't make the list.
After 12 seasons of struggles, the team appears no closer to snapping its playoff drought. The odds makers are against them, and so are the NBA talking heads. The consensus is 25 to 27 wins, and some believe even that's generous.
The Kings will enter the season with only one player over the age of 25 in their rotation -- 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica, who was on his way back to Europe before a phone call from Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic changed his career path.
Three of the Kings' youngsters aren't old enough to walk into a bar, and half of the team is too young to rent a car.
But this is professional sports. Every year, the win/loss record is reset to zero, and there's always a glimmer of hope for each and every team.
Sacramento is up against it, but if a few things fall the right way, there is a chance for a better-than-predicted season. Here are five ways the Kings can take a jump in the standings and surprise people around the league.
De'Aaron Fox wins gold in the triple-jump
A leap isn't enough. The Kings need their point guard to go from 11.6 points and 4.4 assists per game to something closer to 18.5 points and 7.0 assists.
Fox has taken some huge strides in his maturity and appears to be taking ownership of the team. The team was built to play to Fox's speed and athleticism. If he can push the tempo and become the two-way player he's shown flashes of, the Kings can make a nice uptick in the standings.
Buddy Hield = Jamal Crawford
Hield has shown signs of being a next-level scorer. He can bomb the 3-ball with the best of them, and he has improved in most facets of the game.
The Kings have tried to push Hield into the starting lineup, but he struggles in the role. Where he has found his niche is off the bench as the team's primary scorer with the second unit. He averaged 13.5 points per game last season in that role, and he could easily push that closer to 20 if he took a couple more 3-pointers and found a way to get to the free-throw line.
Bogdan Bogdanovic gets healthy
Bogdanovic spent his rookie season trying to fit in, but late in the campaign, he showed that he can be a big-money player.
Two knee procedures have Bogdanovic on the sidelines for a minimum of 10 games, but he'll likely slide right back into the starting lineup when he's healthy. If he can play a little more selfish brand of basketball, the Kings would be a better team and he would put up substantially better numbers.
Willie be consistent?
Management talks about it. Coaches talk about it. Willie Cauley-Stein talks about it. After three seasons of erratic play, the Kings are hoping that the allure of a giant payday is the final motivating factor to get their 25-year-old center to bring the same energy and effort for all 82 games.
Cauley-Stein wants to be the Unicorn. The team would settle for 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. If Cauley-Stein shows up every night and Kings coach Dave Joerger can pencil him in for a double-double, the Kings are a better team.
Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles battle for Rookie of the Year Honors
The Sticky Bandits. The Wet Bandits. The Kings need Harry and Marv to be more successful than the two villains chasing Kevin McCallister around town in the "Home Alone" movies.
Bagley and Giles both have tremendous upside and an opportunity to make a difference as rookies. They'll make mistakes, but these two have the potential to be building blocks for the organization. If they learn on the fly and play more like second- or third-year pros, the Kings will be fun to watch.