There is a downside to all of this, to be sure.
The Kings' home opener Nov. 6 against the Seattle SuperSonics, for one, had yet to sell out as of Tuesday, and there isn't a better indicator of the climate change in Sacramento. And if the locals aren't watching as intently, the rest of the country is surely tuning out, too.
The current barometer? Three national television games are on tap, a pittance compared to the 22 last season. But as first-year coach Reggie Theus tries his hand this season, even with the deck stacked against him with the recent injury to point guard Mike Bibby, the upside is hard to ignore.
Lowered expectations, strange as it sounds, can be a good thing, especially for a franchise that can't very well re-sign Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Co. and re-create the eight consecutive playoff berths that remain the benchmark.
Talk of 50-victory seasons has been trumped by requests for good old-fashioned effort, some offensive highlights and plenty of gusto on defense to show the fans you care. In other words, it's a return to the mid-1980s when Theus played with the Kings.
"I had a conversation with my guys, and I told them, 'Hey, there are a lot of people who have already written you off. But there's crazier things that have happened,' " Theus said.
And at least one player with enough blind optimism to think all will be well.
"We'll be fine," Kings small forward Ron Artest said when asked about the impact of Bibby's absence. "We'll be all right. When he gets back, we'll be that much better."
As a starting point, the Sacramento era's first star has promised this much. There will be discipline, as evidenced by the Reggie Rules that include road curfews and cell-phone bans on the team bus. There will be accountability, with playing time based solely on effort and productivity, not the size of a player's salary. There will be a reality check, the acknowledgment that this roster -- as it stands now -- must be maximized by way of the basics.
"This may not be the reality of the job itself, but I don't make a basket, nobody's going around me, I'm not the one who didn't dive on the floor after a loose ball," Theus said. "I know that as a player, I did those things.
"If I can instill some of those values into my players, that's how I'll judge my job. Because if you do those things, you're going to win your share of basketball games."
As for his players, question marks hover over both new additions and old faces.
Forward Mikki Moore averaged 38 games through his first eight seasons before breaking out in New Jersey last season en route to a three-year, $17 million payday in Sacramento. Spencer Hawes didn't finish unpacking before a pre-training camp knee twist led to a setback. His arthroscopic surgery raised questions about the durability of the young 7-footer's frame, and only time will be able to quiet those critics.
Bibby was on his way to answering the question of whether the longest-tenured King would go along with the gamble that was Theus' hiring. He had shown a willingness to defend, drew rave reviews for his leadership and finally had broken out of an exhibition-season shooting slump in his final game before the injury.
"You're dealt a crappy hand, and you've got to play it," Theus said. "That's the bottom line. You've got nothing to lose, so why not leave it all out on the floor? Eighty-two games is a long time, and there's a lot that can happen."
The winning, once expected, would be merely appreciated. That's the upside, if nothing else.