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The Kings are the thorn in your side of the West

The Sacramento Kings, who were projected to win just 25 games this season, are currently 16-13, breaking Celtics fans’ hearts, and comfortably in the middle of the Western Conference standings.

In part because: They’re athletic, they’re pesky, and they have absolutely zero expectations to fill.

But mainly: D’Aaron Fox, who is quickly looking like the first-, second- or third-best player in the 2017 draft, depending on how you evaluate Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell:

If you watched any Kings games last year -- and, unless you were doing a segment for Pat vs. The House, why would you? -- you could see Fox’s young, sporadic and disarrayed talent, sort of like John Wall and Russell Westbrook in their rookie seasons -- guards who knew they had something ferociously special but didn’t know how to use it.

Fox has honed that ability already and has been a completely different player so far this year, a shifty and speedy pitbull who’s improved his numbers in every single category while seeming like a genuine joy to play with. He’s also one of those guys that the great players around the league seem to respect.

2017-18: 11.6 POINTS | 4.4 AST | 41.2 FG | 30.7 FG3 | PER: 11.2

2018-19: 18.5 POINTS | 7.5 AST | 48.2 FG | 39.6 FG3 | PER: 19.1

Kudos to coach Dave Joerger, who was born at home plate while every other coach not in charge of Sacramento was born on first, and Buddy Hield, who is doing exactly what he did in college: starting slow and gradually trending upwards.

So far this season, Hield is getting 19.2 points a game while shooting 42.5 percent from deep on 6.7 3s attempted per game.

As a team, the Kings are currently first in the league in fast break points, second in pace and fifth in total points per game. It’s an incredible turnaround from last year’s team that had the worst offense and slowest pace in the league.

[READ: Kings are positioned well at start of NBA trade season, but will they buy?]


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