The Kings may not be in playoff contentions, but the team certainly left a mark on the NBA this season. And as much as fans loathe saying "there's always next year," Sacramento could really be the team in the near future.
"We've got to be able to pick up the slack defensively and just try to take that into next year," De'Aaron Fox told NBC Sports California's James Ham last month as the team was on the brink of elimination. "I don't think that's changed after losing this game, we still go out and try to win every game."
The grit of the young team is certainly there, and as Fox said, they have the right ingredients to whip up something special next season -- and Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley noticed the spark.
BR put out a list of the top, young NBA cores that are either built for titles or built to fail. As far as the Kings go Buckley has the team as a possible contender next season.
A "quirk" that's addressed is the fact that the team may not be as young as we all think.
The core of Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes, and Willie Cauley-Stein will all have blown out 26 birthday candles before the 2019-20 season begins.
For the record, 26 is young for most of us, but not in NBA terms.
"But that's fine," Buckley writes. "Hield (in his third NBA season) and Bogdanovic (second) have more growth potential than most pro hoopers their age. Plus, Sacramento's championship chances might be more closely tied to 21-year-old De'Aaron Fox and 20-year-olds Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles. While the sample size is tiny (27 minutes), those five have compiled a bulldozing 15.9 net rating together."
Then he compares Hield to ... the Splash Brothers?
"He's on pace to join the Splash Brothers and Dennis Scott as the only players to shoot at least 42 percent from distance while making at least 250 triples. Bogdanovic functions as a hoops adhesive who does a little of everything. Giles is the best freshman no one is talking about; his per-36-minute line includes 17.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists."
That's quite the compliment.
And the team continued to receive compliments throughout the season. Dirk Nowitzki on his possible last ride said the Kings will be something special to watch.
"[De'Aaron] Fox is fantastic, he's so fast, he's probably one of the fastest players I've seen in this league and he got better from year one to year two," Nowitzki told reporters following the game. "[Marvin] Bagley's looked great off the bench. There's not a lot of guys that get you 20 and 10 off the bench. He's an instant problem off the bench."
"All these young guys, they have great upside and they'll be fun to watch for a long, long time," Nowitzki added.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich also had some nice things to say about the Kings.
"They've become a confident team, an aggressive team, they have great pace," Popovich said before the game. "They're just learning how to play with each other. It takes time, but that's a young, talented group that Vlade's [Divac] put together, and they're learning about themselves and how they want to play."
They're getting everyone's attention. And it's not that long of a wait before we see what they're able to do.