Sacramento Kings Season Preview

More of A Rebirth than A Reclamation

The Sacramento Kings have been inept for quite some time. They’ve remained a fixture in the lottery since 2006 and things haven’t gotten any better for them. Its almost as if they are cursed.

They drafted Tyreke Evans who everyone thought was a sure-fire All-Star. In his rookie season Evans averaged 20.1 ppg, 5.8 apg, 5.1 rpg and, boasted an offensive rating of 107.

The very next season that 107 ppp dropped down to 98 and Evans couldn’t stay on the floor.

That same year the Kings drafted Demarcus Cousins out of Kentucky–another noted John Calipari player–who came out of school with a grown man’s physique and a boatload of talent.

With that talent came disciplinary problems and feuds with his coaches.The next season, all of that would come to a head after Paul Westphal was fired by the Kings.

These are just a few examples of how this team is living on the edge when it comes to being a complete waste of a space:

  • they’re facing the worst attendance lows they’ve had since 1985 when they first came into existence
  • the Maloofs are trying to get out of Sacramento
  • their fan base is diminishing by the day.

They need to put a productive product on the floor and they need to do it sooner rather than later.

As an organization a move to a different city may be what is best for them. There are better markets out there to flourish in and California doesn’t have room for four teams. Especially not in Sacramento where their market value is the lowest out of the four.

They need to find a way to start over. They need fresh faces in the front office an a new star player for this team. They need better ownership, more dedicated fans and a new location. The stability in Sacramento is on par with an earthquake right now. Its time for a new start.

Who’s the Point Guard?

As we all know, the center position and point guard position are the two most important on the floor. The point guard–usually–initiates the offensive sets for a team and has everyone in the right place. The offensive end should be managed and controlled here.

The center position controls the defensive tempo and generates extra possessiosn off of rebounds. The center provides an anchor for your team on both ens of the floor. At the end of the 94 feet, your center should dominate.

With these two positions coaches are able to dominate both ends of the floor. We’ve seen good to great combinations like Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler, Magic and Kareem, Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, so on and so fourth. By now I’m sure you get the point. Dominant combinations are made here.

The bottom line is that the Kings need a lead guard to pair with Demarcus Cousins–who was almost a 20/10 guy last year.

They don’t have an identity as a team because they haven’t been able to find out who that guard is. They’ve tried Tyreke Evans there and that has turned out to be a failed experiment.

Once that was over, they tried Jimmer Freddete there and he’s turned out to be nothing but a spot up shooter. They made due with their last pick in drafting Isaiah Thomas 60th overall in the 2011 draft. It looks like he’s a starting caliber point guard in the NBA, but the jury is still out on him.

We have to–no, need to–see if Thomas can handle the job on a consistent basis before we make any premature judgments there.

The Kings seem to have very little belief in him there as they went out and signed Aaron Brooks in the offseason fresh out of the CBA. Brooks has shown that he can be a very productive guard in the NBA, but we don’t know what he’ll give after a year out of the league.

In his last NBA stint with the Phoenix Suns Brooks was able to put up 9.6 ppg and 4.2 apg in only 18 minutes. His per 36 numbers were crazy. Check out the chart below.

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2007-08 23 HOU NBA 51 0 608 5.5 13.3 .413 2.1 6.5 .330 2.5 2.9 .857 0.8 2.5 3.3 5.2 0.8 0.3 2.6 4.1 15.6
2008-09 24 HOU NBA 80 35 1998 5.7 14.1 .404 2.0 5.6 .366 2.7 3.1 .866 0.6 2.2 2.8 4.3 0.8 0.1 2.3 2.7 16.1
2009-10 25 HOU NBA 82 82 2919 7.1 16.4 .432 2.6 6.5 .398 3.0 3.7 .822 0.7 2.0 2.7 5.4 0.9 0.2 2.9 2.5 19.8
2010-11 26 TOT NBA 59 12 1284 6.2 16.5 .375 2.0 6.6 .297 3.5 3.9 .886 0.6 1.6 2.2 6.5 1.0 0.1 2.8 3.2 17.8
2010-11 26 HOU NBA 34 7 811 5.9 17.2 .346 2.1 7.5 .284 3.5 3.7 .940 0.5 1.8 2.3 5.7 0.9 0.1 2.4 3.1 17.5
2010-11 26 PHO NBA 25 5 473 6.5 15.2 .430 1.7 5.1 .328 3.5 4.3 .807 0.7 1.4 2.1 7.9 1.0 0.1 3.3 3.5 18.3
Career NBA 272 129 6809 6.4 15.5 .411 2.3 6.2 .363 3.0 3.5 .850 0.6 2.0 2.7 5.2 0.9 0.2 2.6 2.8 18.0
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2012.

Had he not been playing behind Nash, he could’ve been a very good starting point guard for that team in that system. Now he’s in a very similar system that pushes tempo under Keith Smart.

The reason he was traded Phoenix were because of health issues, though, so we don’t know how much of a red flag those are still.

Also, this could create a situation in which you have the confidence of a young point guard that may be a bit shaky because of this move. Its a very bold–and somewhat desperate–move by the Kings.

If it doesn’t work out for them, we’ll only have more evidence to prove this curse theory. Talk about a win-win for me.

Minute Allocation

One thing that wasn’t mentioned above–because I’m an idiot pretty much–was the fact that the Kings have a very good offensive front court. They have Demarcus Cousins who averaged 18.1 ppg and 11 rpg in only 30 mintes–but shot only 44% from the field.

This season they’ll pair him with Thomas Robinson. Robinson is a talented, offensively gifted forward out of Kansas.

He was the runner up for National Player of the Year and if Anthony Davis didn’t exist he probably would’ve won it. He averaged 17.7 ppg and 11.9 rpg last year on 50% shooting. For a 6’9 power forward that’s not bad.

These two in the Kings starting line up can do some damage. They’ll run plenty of high-low plays in the post between them because they’re both great passers for bigs. It’ll be something that’s beautiful to watch and I honestly can’t wait to see it. But getting on to the minute allocation…

Starters

Isaiah Thomas- 30.5 Mpg

Marcus Thorton- 33.2 Mpg

Tyreke Evans- 34.8 Mpg

Thomas Robinson- 31.2 Mpg

Demarcus Cousins- 34.2 Mpg

Reserves

John Salmons- 22.3 Mpg

Jimmer Freddette- 18.2 Mpg

Aaron Brooks- 24.8 Mpg

Terrence Williams- 21.3 Mpg

Chuck Hayes- 17.3 Mpg

Tyler Honeycutt- 15.2 Mpg

Francisco Garcia- 18.2 Mpg

Jason Thompson- 19.4 Mpg

James Johnson- 24.9 Mpg

Travis Outlaw- 18.4 Mpg

Conclusion

I believe that Isaiah Thomas will beat out Aaron Brooks for the starting position. In any professional sport you always want to go younger and cheaper. That’s what Thomas is right now–and plus he has experience with this team.

I also believe that James Johnson is going to play a huge factor with this team. He’s a cheaper, less sharp version of Arron Afflalo. He does everything well, but not great. He’s a good rebounder for his position and plays defense extremely well.

The Kings have been looking for a glue guy like this for a while and I think that they finally found him.

They’ll probably end up searching for answers at the end of this season once again, but they’ve got a nice young core of players to put out on the floor. If Demarcus Cousins can keep his name in the headlines for the right reasons, this team can actually be a good one.

Coming up in a division with the Lakers and the Clippers is never a good thing though. This year may be a learning experience for this team, but I think that they’ll grow from it and become better next year.

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