Monday, October 28, 2013
10/28/2013 08:40:00 AM | Posted by Unknown | Edit Post
A new day is upon the Sacramento Kings, and things can only get better from here. New coach, new ownership, and possibly new faith from the fans after almost watching its team being whisked away to Seattle. With a commitment made in the form of a contract extension for DeMarcus Cousins, the franchise appears ready to build around the talented center. Under new coach Mike Malone it also appears that the Kings will finally be establishing an identity that it's struggled to have in recent years. With a much improved Greivis Vasquez and rookie prospect Ben McLemore bolstering up their back court, the Kings will likely find themselves as a team on the verge this season.
Of course what that means is very much up in the air. There is no reason why we should expect them to be near the bottom of the NBA's list at the end of the season, but they certainly won't be getting any playoff looks. Then again, stranger things have happened for 8th seeds, but this is still the Western Conference. In all honesty the Kings are an enigma in the grand scheme of things, which makes them one of the more intriguing teams to observe.
Additions: Grievis Vasquez, Luc Mbah a Moute, Carl Landry, Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum
Subtractions: Tyreke Evans, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, James Johnson
DeMarcus Cousins is one of those players that most agree could take the NBA by storm, if only he just got "it". His constant issues off the court with coaches, announcers, and well everything else that strikes a nerve with him have been a cause for concern. What isn't a concern is the fact that even with all of his antics and occasional drama, his on court production is as stellar as it's ever been. His efficieny is a concern, as 46.5% isn't going to cut it as a franchise center. Still he is a walking double-double on any night that he shows up, and he does so every night. The biggest problems with him isn't so much his work ethic, but his response to those that he should be taking instruction to. Boogie Cousins has played the game his way, and been successful at it, but now if he's going to take the next step he needs to rein in his reactive baggage. New coach Mike Malone may be the key to getting the most out of Cousins, and if so then there is no reason why DeMarcus couldn't challenge as one of the top 3 Centers in the league.
Greivis Vasquez is in a strange position. Last season in New Orleans he proved that not only did he deserve to be in the NBA, but as a starter. His reward for his consistently good play? A one way ticket out of the city of New Orleans straight to Sacramento. While the Kings could certainly benefit from a 6'6 PG that can distribute as well as the best of them as he finished 3rd in assists per game last season. Unfortunately he'll have to compete for the starting PG spot with Isaiah Thomas who despite being undersized, is most effective at the point. Vasquez isn't great playing off-ball, and with several other options already lined up at the 2 guard spot, he may have to settle for a 6th man role on this team. Still, he will play a huge part in the balance of this team, and the Kings will most likely have him on the floor in games when they need to close out efficiently.
The other side of the PG controversy in Sacramento, Thomas will have to prove to coach Mike Malone that he deserves to start. While he has been serviceable thus far in his position, from a match up stand point he'll always be at a disadvantage. At 5'9 he's always going to be a liability on defense, though his speed does give him a bit of an edge. Still that won't really matter if teams are preventing him from penetrating and providing another option on the floor. Cousins will be the focus of this offense, but putting Thomas in situations where he needs Cousins to bail him out won't work for too long, but the upside is if he can continue to improve as a playmaker and create opportunities for his wings, then he'll remain an option on this team.
Most Exciting Player To Watch: Ben McLemore
The rookie shooting guard will be a serious contender for Rookie of The Year should coach Malone decide to give him between 20-24 minutes a night. McLemore is in a crowded back court, but neither Marcus Thornton or Jimmer Fredette are quite as explosive as him. He'll leave much to be desired on the defensive end, but he is a scorer, and will not only keep them in games, but keep fans in seats once he adjusts to the NBA. His biggest strength is attacking in transition, and that's something the Kings lost once they parted ways with Tyreke Evans. If nothing else, McLemore will provide many a highlight, even in their worst games.
Prediction: 36 Wins
There are many that have the Kings making a playoff push, and possibly ending at best as the 9th or 10th team in the West. While that may be possible, at this point in time the roster still has too many question marks. They are going to have winless stretches, some that will surely result on rotation changes, and possibly a trade or two as needed. The bright spots will be few and far between, but they will be there. Cousins will be leading the pack, but now is a time for Sacramento to see if the pieces around him can elevate as well. If they can, then the Kings will certainly rise again. If not, they can feel secure knowing they're not that far off.