Four Kings stars land on ESPN’s Top 100 players list for 2022-23 season

Four Kings land on ESPN’s list of Top 100 players for 2022-23 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

It’s back! ESPN’s NBArank has returned as the 2022-23 NBA season is right around the corner.

With big names like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic expected to make the list with no problem, others who made the cut — or didn’t — might come as a surprise.

Only two rookies made it on the annual list: Kings forward Keegan Murray (No. 95) and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (No. 82).

And three of Murray’s Kings teammates joined him on that list.

Below is a full rundown of Kings players who were ranked among the best in the league.

Keegan Murray (No. 95)

Murray enters his first NBA season with loads of potential and high expectations. The 22-year-old even already has some hardware to show for it.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2K23 NBA Summer League after a remarkable performance in Las Vegas.

Murray dominated across the boards in all four games he played in Sin City, averaging 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc.

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He scored at least 20 points in all four contents and easily outscored the three players who were drafted ahead of him in Banchero (20.0 PPG), Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chet Holmgren (12.0) and Houston Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. (14.4).

The Iowa product still has a lot to prove, but his future is already blindingly bright as his addition to the Kings brought a glimpse of hope and excitement back to Sactown.

Barnes is entering his 11th season in the league and fourth with the Kings.

In his career, he’s averaging 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. But in his most recent campaign with the Kings, he averaged 16.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

A champion with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, Barnes was tasked with a bigger role in Sacramento and has averaged solid numbers ever since.

And that’s not expected to change anytime soon for the 30-year-old as his veteran leadership and championship background will be crucial in helping the Kings escape a 16-year playoff drought.

De’Aaron Fox (No. 54)

Fox’s incredible growth was put on display last season as the young point guard stepped up in notable ways for Sacramento.

So much so that his steady progression landed him on a list with NBA megastar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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Fox missed the final 11 games of last season due to a hand injury, but he was playing his best ball just before that. From Feb. 14 to March 9, Fox put up 20 or more points and shot 50 percent from the field in 10 consecutive games.

The only other player in the league to do that was Antetokounmpo.

With the addition of Domantas Sabonis late in the season, Fox blossomed into a go-to player for the Kings and his numbers showed that. Since Sabonis joined the squad, Fox averaged 28.9 points for the remaining games he played.

They only played in 15 games together, but the two put on a show that fans quickly loved and in return were dubbed “The Fox and the Ox.”

And it was just a sneak peek of what’s to come.

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Domantas Sabonis (No. 47)

The Kings are eager to get back to the postseason, and believe Domantas Sabonis can get them there.

That’s why they brought him in from the Indiana Pacers in a blockbuster trade that had them part ways with guards Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton.

The two-time All-Star played in his first game in the 916 on Feb. 9 and the difference that just his presence made was instantly noticeable.

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The 6-foot-11 big man has said over and over again since landing in Sacramento that he’s excited to play with Fox, and ready for the 2022-23 season.

In their first game ever playing together, “The Fox and the Ox” combined for 49 points, 22 rebounds and eight assists in the Kings’ 132-119 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 9.

It wasn’t the way they wanted the season to end by any means, but the short preview of what we witnessed will make next season all the more exciting with a newly revamped squad playing an entire season together.

Bucke up. It’s almost time.

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