The incredible starting five the Sacramento Kings' front office missed out on

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The Sacramento Kings are headed for an 11th successive season without playoff basketball. Currently 12th in the Western Conference on 25-39, their long-suffering fans are braced for another summer of watching the postseason action from a distance. 

However, the 2016-17 campaign has seen the front office make a decisive move about the future of the organisation. Trading DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, a first round pick and other pieces, signals a new chapter in their story. 

The rebuild is well and truly underway (again!). But looking through their history over of the last seven years, the Kings' roster could've taken a very different shape. With that in mind, we've put together a starting five of the how the California-based team could've looked. Hindseight is a great thing. 

PG - Isaiah Thomas 

One of the big decision to upset Sacramento fans in recent years (there have been many) was to trade away the hardworking, diminutive point guard Isaiah Thomas.

I.T.'s hustle, grit and determination instantly won over the Kings faithful and he put up some good numbers during his three seasons with the franchise. He averaged 15.3 points on 44.7% from the field and 36% from the field, while providing 4.8 assists.

Of course, Thomas is now with the Celtics - via Phoenix - and is leading a charge to the postseason with an MVP-level worthy season. As far as stories of 'what if?' go, they don't get bigger than Isaiah and Sacramento. 

To think, all they got in return for Thomas were the draft rights to Alex Oriakhi.

SG - Seth Curry

The younger Curry brother got his big NBA break with the Kings and repaid them with 6.8 points on 45.5% from the field in 15.7 minutes per night during 44 games. 

But having proven his ability to play in the big league after stints with Memphis, Cleveland and Phoenix that yielded 4 games, he opted against re-signing. 

Instead, he chose Dallas. Seth, who is shooting a higher percentage from three than his two-time MVP brother, is averaging 12.9 points with a 43.5% success rate from behind the arc, and has worked his way into the starting line-up. 

SF - Rudy Gay

The only member of this theoretical starting five to remain with the Kings, Rudy Gay is arguably their best player following the Cousins trade - Willie Cauley-Stein is making a claim for that title. But there's only one problem, he's injured.

Gay managed 30 games this campaign before an Achilles injury brought an end to his season. Averaging 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in those games, he was a strong second option and his presence has been missed.

PF - DeMarcus Cousins

There is a serious debate to be had over whether DeMarcus Cousins can create a winning environment, but there is no argument against the fact he is a supremely talented big man. 

Able to operate at the four or five, he is forced to the power forward position in this lineup. 

Having spent seven years in California, he claimed three All-Star honours but was never able to lead the franchise over .500 for a season. Despite his issues, he was a huge hit with the Kings' fans. 

His start to life in New Orleans has been far from perfect: the Pels are 2-6 since the move and Cousins was suspended for one of those Ws.

C - Hassan Whiteside

Drafted with the 33rd pick in 2010 - the same year Sac took DeMarcus - Hassan Whiteside was barely given a chance to prove himself as the franchise put all their eggs in Cousins' basket. 

By now, the Whiteside story is well known around the world of basketball. He has been given the keys to the Miami Heat kingdom after signing a max extension in the summer. 

On the cusp of being an All-Star center, Whiteside's incredible scoring and blocking ability could have been utilised by the Kings. 19 games in two season are hardly enough to prove your worth.

Sacramento Kings
Pacific Division
Western Conference
DeMarcus Cousins
Seth Curry
Rudy Gay

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