What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Monday, October 27, 2014

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 24. Sacramento Kings

Overall Win/Loss Record : 28-54,  fourth place Pacific Division

2014/2015 Projection: 36-46, fourth place Pacific Division, twelfth place Western Conference

Preseason Rank

Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 100.5 (17th)
  • Points Allowed: 103.4 (24th)
  • Team FG%: .464 (7th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .461 (20th)
  • Team FT%: .759 (15th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .333 (27th)
  • Rebounds per game: 44.5 (9th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.2 (6th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.7 (23rd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.2 (27th)

Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Demarcus Cousins (22.7)
  • Rebounds per game: Demarcus Cousins (11.7)
  • Minutes per game:  Rudy Gay (34.4)
  • Assists per game: Rudy Gay (3.1)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Reggie Evans (.473)  
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Rudy Gay (.840)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Ray McCallum (.373)
  • Steals per game:  Demarcus Cousins (1.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Demarcus Cousins (1.3)  

Projected Opening Day Starters Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

Key Reserves Rank Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

  1. Ramon Sessions (G)
  2. Ben McLemore (G)
  3. Reggie Evans (F)
  4. Derrick Williams (F)
  5. Ray McCallum (G)

If you are a resident of the state capital of California, you have to be not only overjoyed, but also overwhelmingly proud of the state of your Sacramento Kings.  First was the fact that ownership has changed hands from a couple of brothers who looked to relocate the team to a man who is dedicated in not only keeping the team in Sacramento, but also is making great strides in making the team a true competitor despite it being in a small market.  There are plans of building a new arena and the team has been refashioned with a new attitude along with a new culture based on excellence and accountability.  Two of the team's best players put up excellent performances in the Summer playing for their country to lead it to a gold medal in the +2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and look to continue their success on the NBA court while a strong NBA draft and solid off season acquisitions have made the Kings even deeper and stronger than it has ever been. Altogether it looks as if this long time perennial loser is ready to take strides at returning to the post season and become the powerhouse it once was during the late 1990s to early 21st century, but hold on there!!!

Despite the recent reversal of fortunes and its upward trend of progression, there still remain numerous gaps in which the team has to fill before it can be considered anywhere near to becoming a playoff contender.  The most glaring fault is the team's rather inconsistent defensive effort last season which allowed their opponents to score more than 103 points per game and shoot .461 from the field.  Nonetheless, despite the team's porous defense, the Kings still managed to hang in almost every game match their their opponents shot for shot while at the same time out-rebounded them by a +3 margin; however, it was sadly not enough as they were unable to come through in the end losing out on all the key 50/50 plays that are necessary to grab the wins.  Yet, even though there were severe lapses on defense and much work needed to be done, there is still plenty of hope and optimism in a city that has been marred by apathy, poor management, and a less than honest or reliable ownership.  All there needs to be on the fans' part is just a little more patience for this budding team as it will take a few more years for all the work that both the team's coaching staff and front office put into to truly bear fruit.

All of the hopes of both the team and its fans rest on the massive shoulders of DeMarcus Cousins, whom despite coming off a less than impressive 28 win season, finished it with the best numbers of his of his career, leading the Kings in four statistical categories, and has emerged as one of the true elite big men of the league.  He is steadfastly propped up by Rudy Gay, who has yet to be given the deserved credit as one of the top small forwards in the NBA not being recognized for his efforts and often criticized unfairly by both fans and the media. Both are surrounded by a supporting cast of players that represent the perfect balance between youthful exuberance and veteran experience.  With a roster that is essentially two players deep in all five positions, the Kings boasts a wealth of size, skill, talent, and athleticism that most teams dream of; in addition to that strength is the willingness and dedication to get better with every game.  All there needs to be for the Kings to be a true force is just a bit more patience on the part of the farm which for years had been stretched to its limits, misused and abused by the previous ownership along with a poor front office decisions, and a corrosive organizational culture.

Unlike past seasons, which saw the Kings playing rather uninspired ball and a front office that could not care less for the poor product they were putting forth on the floor, there is actually an atmosphere of personal growth as both a team and an organization.  Players who were simply looking for their next pay check have been replaced with players who actually enjoy being on the team and ready, able and willing to do whatever it takes to make this team better.  It is this top down approach in organizational culture that has been sorely lacking under the previous leadership, or lack thereof, that dragged down this one time proud franchise no matter how many top draft picks it received each year.  It is a culture that the players have proudly bought into because unlike the previous regime, there is a sincere effort to and intention to build something special in a city that has historically seen little success, but whose fans continue show nothing but unconditional love and devotion for the past three decades.  No one cares about the fact that they reside in one of the smallest television markets in the league and is among the teams that get the least exposure in the league--all that matters is the here and now and right now the Kings are focused on moving forward and getting better with each game.

If the Kings organization can be criticized for anything and will most likely regret, it would have to be its treatment of Isaiah Thomas, who had breakout season, looked destined for greatness, and essentially got the shaft mainly due to his diminutive size.  Last season, Thomas was the team's second go to scorer averaging more than 20 points per game while leading the team in assists as well; however, the team's brain trust thought it wiser to pass on giving him the grand pay day he deserved and chose to cheap out and sign Darren Collison, instead.  Collison at best, has been a serviceable point guard who was not capable in holding his starting job while in his previous teams while Thomas literally showed that he has All Star caliber talent despite being picked 60th overall in the NBA Draft two years prior.  Instead, Sacramento chose to tab Collison as its starting point guard while letting Thomas go to the +Phoenix Suns for just 1$ million more than the Kings originally offered him which in hindsight, may not have been the wisest decision because they could've kept them both.  Nonetheless, such a gaffe will not harm the Kings too much in this upcoming season as they look to prove that just one player does not make a team and they have the tools to bring the city of Sacramento back in the NBA limelight.