By Madisen Carter
The Sacramento Kings had a surprising season this year as the team finished third in the Western Conference during the regular season, and made their way into the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons. With a young and talented roster with players such as De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Keegan Murray along with new additions during the season such as Kessler Edwards, the Kings finished the 2022-23 season with a final record of 48-34, the team’s best record since 2005.
The Kings started their season with an 0-4 record, but they kept pushing throughout the season allowing them to have seven-game and six-game winning streaks to keep their record high. On March 16th, the Kings officially had their best record since 2006 with a win over Edwards’ former team, the Brooklyn Nets with a score of 101-96.
Edwards, who has trained with Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner since the 2021 pre-draft, joined the Kings officially on February 7th and was ready to do his part and make an impact on the team. In his first seven games including the win over the Nets, Edwards had a total of 29 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He finished his first season with the Kings with a total of 85 points, 48 rebounds and 21 assists.
When Edwards and the Kings defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 120-80 on March 29th, the team ended the league's longest playoff drought and clinched their first playoff berth since 2006 when the team was led by Mike Bibby and Meta World Peace.
The No. 3 ranked Sacramento Kings took on No. 6 seeded Golden State Warriors in their first playoff series in 16 seasons. The Kings took two games at home starting off the series strong with a 126-123 win in Game 1 and a 114-106 win in Game 2. The Warriors answered back at Chase Center with back to back wins tying the series at 2.
When the teams were back in Sacramento for Game 5, the Warriors took control of the second and third quarter outscoring the Kings by 12 points to help secure their 123-116 win to take the lead in the series. In Game 6, Fox and Malik Monk combined for a total of 54 points to lead the Kings to victory. The Kings took the lead with 10:47 left in the second quarter, and they kept the lead the entire game as they forced a Game 7 with a 118-99 win.
This was the Kings first Game 7 since the Conference Semi Finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004 and the first one hosted in Sacramento since 2002. The Golden 1 Center was packed with a full house of 18,253 people ready to watch the two teams battle to make it to the next round of the playoffs to play the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN and the NBA announced that the game had an average of 9.8 million viewers and was the most watched first round playoff game since 1999.
The game started off close with the Kings taking the lead going into halftime 58-56. When the third quarter came along, the Warriors exploded, outscoring the Kings by 12 in the third quarter and by 10 in the fourth quarter. Warriors’ Stephen Curry dropped a playoff career-high 50 points to end the Kings season with a score of 120-100.
The Kings gave fans a memorable season along with hope for future seasons with the young team. Kings head coach, Mike Brown, received the 2022-23 Coach of the Year Award and De’Aaron Fox won the NBA Clutch Player of the Year award. Although the season did not end the way they wanted, this successful season gives Kings fans something to look forward to for next season.