NBA Hoops

Season Review: Kevin Huerter – The Kings Herald

The Kings need more from Kevin Huerter

The 2022-23 Sacramento Kings had one of the best offenses in NBA history, and Kevin Huerter’s emergence as a full-time starter, elite volume floor spacer, and dynamic off-ball mover, was a big reason why. Unfortunately for both Huerter and the Kings, he was not the same player in 2023-24.

Huerter in 2022-23: 29.4 MPG, 15.2 PPG, .484 FG%, .402 3P%, .603 eFG%

Huerter in 2023-24: 24.2 MPG, 10.2 PPG, .443 FG%, .361 3P%, .553 eFG%

I’ll start from the end of Huerter’s season, and work my way back: Kevin Hurter suffered a shoulder injury just two minutes into a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 18. Said shoulder injury would eventually require surgery, forcing Red Velvet to miss the remainder of the season and the play-in tournament. He is expected to make a full recovery before training camp in September.

But Huerter’s injury really just forced Mike Brown to do what already needed to be done: promote Keon Ellis into the starting lineup. Prior to the injury, Huerter’s minutes were already in decline due to poor shooting performances, defensive targeting, and an overall lack of positive impact. Brown just wasn’t willing to remove him from the starting lineup yet. Ellis provided the Kings with a major lift defensively, immediately. Sacramento had one of the best defensive ratings in the NBA once Ellis started playing consistent minutes. Ellis also shot the ball more efficiently than Huerter from beyond the arc, putting Kevin’s future with the Kings in a fascinating spot.

If I can play armchair sports psychologist for a second here, I would argue things started trending in a bad direction for Huerter in last years’ playoff series against the Golden State Warriors where he shot just 20% from three over the course of seven games, but I digress. The most interesting Huerter conversation you can have right now is this: what happens next?

Huerter has two years left on the fair 4-yr/$65M contract he signed in 2021. I would imagine his value isn’t the highest its ever been, but at the same time, it wouldn’t be difficult for a team to convince themselves that Huerter is still an elite NBA shooter with some positional versatility. For those reasons, plus the fact that the Kings have a cheap replacement in Ellis, it’s fair to assume Huerter is one of the more likely Kings to be traded this summer as Monte McNair hunts for upgrades.

An alternative, scarier timeline is one where Sacramento loses Malik Monk in free agency, Ellis resumes his…

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