<
>

Sacramento Kings: No. 85

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!

Last year's ranking: 122
Title track: 94
Ownership: 51
Coaching: 69
Players: 107
Fan relations: 80
Affordability: 42
Stadium experience: 108
Bang for the buck: 85

Things were already looking up for the Kings by the time they finished last in our franchise rankings in 2013. The Maloof family, who let the team's roster, arena and reputation rot for a decade, had just sold the club to Vivek Ranadive, a Mumbai-born tech billionaire and hoops enthusiast who promised drastic improvements for fans. And so far, Ranadive and his management team have delivered. They got to fixing up creaky Sleep Train Arena -- filling potholes, plugging leaks, upgrading the Wi-Fi -- even as they secured more than $200 million in public funds for a new downtown arena that will open in 2016. And they held the line on prices for tickets and concessions; at an average cost of $62.40, Kings games were the eighth-cheapest in the NBA last year.

Meanwhile, Pete D'Alessandro, the Kings' creative new GM, spent last offseason collecting assets and, after the Kings won just 28 games for the second straight season, is spending this summer getting under the luxury-tax threshold. Thanks to D'Alessandro's efforts, Sacramento is ready to shed more than $30 million in contracts next year and keep building around DeMarcus Cousins. Kings fans have been waiting a long time for a coherent plan and some respect; they're finally getting both.