The Sacramento Kings currently sit third in the Western Conference, ascending the NBA standings and in a position to end a playoff drought that has lasted nearly two decades.
After signing general manager Monte McNair to a contract extension, the Kings are positioned to be buyers ahead of the NBA trade deadline on Thursday. Clinging to a slim lead in the division, the Kings are looking to fortify their rotation with key pieces for a playoff run.
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Sacramento’s starting lineup is set with a core five featuring Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray and Harrison Barnes. However, the front office sees the bench as a major weakness in a potential playoff series and with rotations shortened in the postseason, McNair wants to upgrade in two key areas.
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Kings are interested in Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle and Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee. Sacramento is also shopping backup centers Richaun Holmes and Alex Len.
The interest in Thybulle doesn’t come as a surprise. Poised to become a restricted free agent this summer, Thybulle has fallen out of favor in Philadelphia. After averaging 25.5 minutes per game with 50 starts last season, the 6-foot-5 guard now averages just 12.1 minutes per night this season.
- Matisse Thybulle career stats: 4.4 PPG, 1.5 SPG, 32.5 3PT%
While Thybulle is an empty contributor offensively, he remains outstanding on the defensive end. he won the Naismith Defensive Player of the year in 2019 at Washington then earned the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team honors in each of the past two seasons.
Evaluating Matisse Thybulle and Mason Plumlee’s fit with Sacramento Kings
Entering Sunday Sacramento ranked 20th in Defensive Efficiency (1.112) and 21st in scoring defense (116.2 PPG allowed). Thybulle would provide the Kings with a legitimate defensive stopper off the bench, who could provide quality defense against some of the best guards during the NBA playoffs. With Thybulle focused on defense, Sacramento’s scoring ability would make up for his deficiencies on that end of the court.
Plumlee, who is generating significant interest from playoff contenders, would solve another problem for Sacramento. The Kings have no viable depth at center behind Sabonis, creating significant problems when the All-Star needs a break.
- Mason Plumlee stats (2022-’23): 12.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 67.2% FG, 134 Offensive Rating
The 7-foot center would provide skills that are somewhat similar to Sabonis, strengthening the Kings’ second unit. With a stronger rotation at both guard and center, the Kings would have a viable shot at winning their first playoff series since the 2004-’05 postseason.
Because Plumlee and Thybulle are both free agents this summer, the cost of acquiring either player should be relatively low. Sacramento could package second-round picks with Len for Plumlee and pair Holmes or Terence Davis with a future second-round pick for Thybulle.