2012 NBA Off Season Preview: Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings

2011-2012 Record: 22-44, 5th in Pacific.
Stat Leaders: Marcus Thornton, 18.7 ppg. DeMarcus Cousins, 11.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg. Tyreke Evans, 4.5 apg.

Depth Chart

C - DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside (TO)
PF - Travis Outlaw, Chuck Hayes
SF - Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, Tyler Honeycutt (TO)
SG - Marcus Thornton, Francisco Garcia
PG - Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette

Restricted Free Agents: FC Jason Thompson, F Donte Greene
Unrestricted Free Agents: GF Terrence Williams

The Good: There is a reason you take big men early every year. DeMarcus Cousins is the prime example. He slid to fifth in the draft two seasons ago even though he was the first or second best player due to immaturity. That penchant for being a knucklehead was present throughout his rookie season and even early this year. There were rumblings the team was looking to trade him but after the All Star break he showed that he is the centerpiece of this team. He was a 20/10 guy and looks like he will battle Andrew Bynum for the title of second best center in the NBA. At only 22 years old, the sky is the limit for Cousins. He has a tremendous skill set, and if he keeps his head in the game and his emotions in check, will be a multiple time All Star. The Kings also may have found their point guard of the future in the draft. And it is not the guy they selected in the top ten, but the very last pick in the draft. Isaiah Thomas was a godsend for this team, stabilizing the point guard position that has been in flux since the days of a prime Mike Bibby. He is a good scorer and takes care of the ball better then you would expect him to. He may just be the long term answer at the position. Marcus Thornton proved that his 2010-2011 season was no fluke, as he averaged almost 19 points per game last season, with very efficient shooting percentages. He is your prototypical scoring two guard. While you would worry about the back court defense, they seem to have their two back court starters for the future, and the three guys I just listed could realistically average 60 points per game between the three next season.

The Bad: The Kings have a lot of good players, but they don't really fit well together as a team. John Salmons regressed badly and his contract will be a strain on the team for years. Jimmer Fredette had a terrible rookie season and he will need a lot of work to even become part of a crowded back court rotation again. He could find himself out of the league in a few years, as his shooting percentages were terrible and he didn't really show any type of ability to be a ball handler. Then we come to Tyreke Evans. By the end of the season he was the fourth option on offense, and really struggled with his jump shot. He is a dynamic talent but the Kings haven't really been able to figure out how to use him. He needs the ball in his hands to be an effective offensive player, but the offense needs to run through DeMarcus Cousins. I personally think it would be a good idea to trade him. He is young and has a ton of talent, he should fetch a long term starter at small or power forward. If you have noticed, all I have written about so far is offense. The Kings went 22-44 because they played absolutely no defense. None, whatsoever. They gave up a staggering 104 points per game, 3 more then the next worst team. There are no players on this team other then Chuck Hayes who are committed to playing any defense.

Key Free Agents: Jason Thompson is the only free agent of note, but he has shown that his upside is probably the first big off the bench. Still, the Kings like him and don't really have any other options, so he should be resigned and remain the starting power forward. Donte Greene and Terrence Williams are two talented young guys who have failed to develop for different reasons and would only be resigned for depth.

Projected Cap Space: $15,400,191. The Kings are in great shape financially. They have already resigned one of their cornerstones, Marcus Thornton, to a deal that runs for four more years at around 8 million a year. That is very good value for a young up and coming scorer. Jason Thompson will probably get a long term deal starting at around 7 million a year, and they still have two more years before they have to offer an extension to DeMarcus Cousins. The question is will anyone want to sign with Sacramento? The team has rediscovered that losing culture they had throughout the 90's, and even worse, the franchise is in chaos with the arena and city of Sacramento and the owners all battling it out with each other.

Amnesty Possibilities: I think using the amnesty on John Salmons is a no brainer. He busted his ass for a nice contract extension and since then has become fat, lazy and injury prone. The team has little use for another scorer who needs to dominate the ball, and it will clear 8 million a year off the books for the next two years.

Yes, Francisco Garcia is actually still on the Kings.
Free Agent Possibilities: The Kings will be able to be players in the free agent market if they choose. The question is will anyone want to come to Sacramento and will the Maloofs want to spend any money right now? The Kings would love to fill their small forward role with a guy who has some size and can play defense. They could sign Nicolas Batum to a very generous offer sheet, but the Blazers do have the money to match. They could decide to bring Gerald Wallace back to the place where his career started, but signing him to a long term contract could prove to be disastrous. More then likely they go with someone like Matt Barnes or Sam Young to provide 20 minutes of production per night. Brook Lopez, JaVale McGee or Roy Hibbert would be nice fits next to Cousins, but again, all three are restricted free agents. I would try to get one of those guys, and if it doesn't work, just save your money for next year.

Draft Possibilities: Right now the Kings pick sixth. Other then Anthony Davis, I think Sacramento would love to get their hands on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson. MKG's skill set is a perfect fit for a Kings team filled with players who need the ball in their hands. He can slash, rebound, handle the ball and will be responsible for guarding the opposing teams best scorer every night. Robinson, while a bit undersized, is a very hard worker down low and would be a nice compliment to Cousins up front. Picking at six, both of those guys will probably be gone. Jared Sullinger is a Thomas Robinson light and some of his deficiencies could be masked playing next to Cousins. The wild card will be Andre Drummond, who could very well be there when the Kings pick at 6. The potential for a Cousins/Drummond front court might be too enticing to pass up. However, they will possibly be adding more cancer to an already toxic locker room.

Rebuilding, Contending or Status Quo?: Rebuilding, and with a giant cloud hanging over the team. The whole arena thing is an absolute mess. On the court, the team needs to figure out which scorers to keep and which ones to let move on. The trio of Cousins on the inside with Thornton and Thomas in the back court are nice pieces to build around. Evans has gone from the face of the franchise to an afterthought. With his rookie deal running out, I think trading him would be the best bet. If Sacramento can land a couple players who play some defense in return, they could possibly challenge for the 8th seed next year. The core for the Kings are all so young, that playoffs are not a realistic goal right now.

All logos courtesy of www.sportslogos.net.

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments: