For each of the past eight seasons, Sacramento not only failed to make the playoffs, but won more than 35 games just once.
Since being knocked out of the opening round of the 2006 post season, the Kings have compiled a record of 215-425 and have searched desperately for a cornerstone to build the franchise upon.
Since being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, DeMarcus Cousins appeared to be that player, but for all of his talents, there were enough drawbacks to make Sacramento hesitant to sign him to a long term contract.
As the deadline approached to either offer an extension, the Kings knew they had one of the most promising young centers in the league, in his third season he led the team with 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals a game, but his temperament along constant bickering with teammates and coaches led to questions about his future with the team.
His promising play was enough to secure a four-year $62 million deal to remain with the team.
Through six games this season, that contract appears to be a bargain, as Cousins has established himself as the best center in the NBA.
Sacramento has unexpectedly posted a 5-1 record as Cousins is playing the most efficient basketball of his career.
The 6-foot-11 center is averaging 24.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals a game, some mild improvements over what he managed last season, but what is truly impressive is his control on the floor.
Not only is Cousins shooting the ball efficiently, connecting on 50 percent of his attempts from the field and 81 percent of his free throws, 10 percentage points higher than his career average, he has yet to be whistled for a technical foul.
Cousins has led the league in technical fouls each of the past two seasons and has drawn at least 12 in each of his four seasons in the NBA.
The shift has been so dramatic, Cousins was even calming his coach down after he drew his sixth foul of the game against Phoenix.
Of course Mike Malone was upset, his star center was was dominating, posting 25 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks, but the team would be forced to find a way to win without him.
Along with battling the Suns, Rudy Gay, Cousins’ teammate both in Sacramento and on the 2014 gold medal winning Team USA squad at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball last summer, had to shake off the flu.
Gay buried a turnaround jumper with just over a minute remaining, capping a double overtime victory for Sacramento, its fifth straight victory, the longest the franchise has seen with Cousins on the roster.
Over the past four years, the Kings have posted a four game winning streak just once.
Part of the success this season has been the stellar play of Gay, but the team finally has an identity.
The Kings are averaging 105.5 points a game, the fourth most in the league and Cousins is well on his way to his first All-Star selection.
In six games, he has posted four double-doubles, ranks sixth in scoring, third in rebounding and his free throw shooting is the fifth best among all centers this season.
Against the Nuggets, Cousins needed just 22 minutes to dominate the game, as he totaled 30 points, 11 rebounds and two steals before fouling out.
Physicality has always been a key aspect of his game, Cousins has led the NBA in personal fouls during each of his first two seasons and has been whistled 29 times this year.
Against Denver, Cousins appeared ready to fight, until the player that slapped him to congratulate him was his teammate.
Cousins has even become a spokesman for the team, convincing Malone to keep a lineup together in the middle of a game to help build continuity.
The 24-year-old has shown the poise necessary to become a franchise player, dominating the game on the court and has avoided becoming a target of referees.
It’s been nearly a decade since the Kings have be relevant, but with Cousins playing the best basketball of his career, they are finally enjoying some success.