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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA End of Season Worst to First Countdown: 25. Sacramento Kings

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

Actual Finish: 29-53, fourth place Pacific Division, thirteenth place Western Conference  
Projected 2014/2015 Finish


Actual 2014/2015 Finish

Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 101.3 (13th)
  • Points Allowed: 105.0 (28th)
  • Team FG%:  .455 (13th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .456 (24th)
  • Team FT%: .762 (10th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .341 (20th)
  • Rebounds per game: 44.2 (9th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.2 (4th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.6 (27th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 12.5 (24th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): DeMarcus Cousins (24.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  DeMarcus Cousins (12.7)
  • Minutes per game: Rudy Gay (35.4)
  • Assists per game:  Darren Collison (5.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Ryan Hollins (.646)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Nik Stauskas (.890)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Omri Casspi (.402)
  • Steals per game: DeMarcus Cousins (1.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  DeMarcus Cousins (1.7)

SDH’s Hero to Honor: +DeMarcus Cousins

Can someone please give this guy a medal for courage under fire, especially when constantly fighting a never ending losing battle?  That has been the case for DeMarcus Cousins as he, yet again had to shoulder the weight along with the much of the criticism for the sad state of his team; however, after putting up such impressive numbers one has to ask what else can he do?  Looking at his numbers, he is arguably the best center in the NBA and if it was not for the fact that he has been spending his energy trying to resurrect a moribund franchise going nowhere, he would actually be respected by both fans and the media worldwide; sadly, however, that has not been the case as no matter how much he tries, he will never be able to pull this sad Sacramento team out of the pit of quick sand that it created for itself.  To make matters worse, it almost seems as if the franchise is actually working against him thanks to poor personnel decisions which makes the burden even heavier to carry. Add questionable roster choices with the losing and sooner or later, Cousins will have enough and look for the next bus out of that crumbling kingdom.       
SDH’s Face to Forget: Pete D'Alessandro

Take a good hard look, Kings fans, because this is the man who took what could have been a breakout season for your franchise and sent it crashing into a pile of flames.  It all started in last years draft where he took the eighth pick and wasted it on +Nik Stauskas, a player who failed miserably to even crack the roster, let alone make any impact for the team.  During the offseason, he could have re-signed fan favorite and Most Improved Player Candidate Isaiah Thomas, but chose instead to let him go to the +Phoenix Suns, who only paid just one million more than he originally offered him and could have easily matched. Finally, to cap it all off, he fires Michael Malone, a coach who the team respected and had led the team to its best start in years; however, after a small dip due to the temporary absence of team leader DeMarcus Cousins, instead of patient and waiting out the storm, he chose to rashly fire the coach thus turning the team off kilter for the rest of the season.  Seriously, Kings fans, if you see this man walking in the streets, have your torches and pitchforks ready because this man needs to be stopped before he does any more damage.  

Two years ago, it seemed as the sale of the +Sacramento Kings to billionaire Vivek Ranadivé and his commitment to stay in the city of Sacramento was a Godsend to a sports franchise that was virtually on life support and on the verge of collapse; however, three season's later, the Kings still remain in its rather sad state despite its best efforts to revitalize the franchise.  The front office has done its best to reawaken this moribund franchise first by signing DeMarcus Cousins to a multi-year extension making him the face, heart and soul of the franchise while adding solid players around him such as +Rudy Gay and +Darren Collison, among others; however, nothing thus far has reaped any rewards as the Kings find themselves once again wallowing at the bottom of the Western Conference standing making many wonder whether keeping the team in Sacramento was a good idea.  Although many credited Ranadivé and his associate for nobly keeping the team in Sacramento instead of moving to a more lucrative market such as Seattle, one has to ask the question if this noble act was in the best interest of the franchise.  Had it moved, perhaps the new setting and a refreshing new fan base would have infused new life into every facet in the Kings organization--the coaching staff, front office and personnel--thus giving the team a virtual rebirth--the same way that the +Oklahoma City Thunder was reborn after leaving Seattle; instead it continues to spin its tires in the mud going nowhere as it continues to sink further to the point of completely disappearing altogether. If the Kings' direction does not change soon then frustrations from the players, most notably the team's star DeMarcus Cousins, will soon boil over and explode resulting in another disappointing rebuilding attempt and quite possibly the final death blow for this much maligned franchise.

At the opening tip off, it looked as if the Kings had finally turned a corner when it virtually shocked the basketball world winning nine of its first fourteen games and finished the first month of the season with a 9-8 record; however the hope of a Sacramento revival were swiftly shot down in the month of December when the team went 4-11 to finish 2014.  Nonetheless, finishing the season 13-19 was far more than the ecstatic home crowd of the +Sleep Train Arena could have wished for even though the chances of reaching the playoffs were slim at best, especially in the Byzantine Western Conference, there was a glimmer of hope that this would be the start of something something special.  Unfortunately, those hopes were quickly flushed down the toilet when the team's GM Pete D'Alessandro made a rash unwise move and fired head coach Michael Malone (12/15/2014), a man who the players greatly respected and was on the verge of changing the team's culture, after the team slipped into a short slump losing seven of nine games. What made the move especially thoughtless and reckless about Allesandro's was not only the fact that it was still early in the season and it would have been wiser to simply wait it out to see if the team can pull themselves out of it, but also the fact that the primary reasons of the Kings' struggle was because the team's star player, DeMarcus Cousins, had been sitting out those game due to illness. The team was only 11-13, which was quite an achievement in itself considering the Kings had come off its best start since forever, and as a result of the rather unjust and ill-advised handling of the coaching situation, Sacramento simply went into free fall and would never recover as the Kings winning just 18 games more to finish the season.

To prove how insipid it was for D'Alessandro to fire Malone so early into the season, one can point out that no one expected for Sacramento to even reach .500, let alone contend for the playoffs this season and if one were to extrapolate that 11-13 start of the course of 82 games, then it would have been a great possibility for the Kings to finish with a  38-44 record had Malone stayed. Although it would not have been nearly enough to earn a playoff spot in the West, that certainly would have been a far better improvement from the teams previous seasons where the Kings won an average of just 24 games over the past six years and would have been at least a solid confidence booster for the team to move forward in the future.  Unfortunately any progress or strides that the Kings could have made were completely sabotaged by a shortsighted move made by a witless GM who had severe delusions of grandeur of what his team--that in spite of the obvious talent in its roster, was still trying to feel its way in the NBA--was capable of accomplishing.  Such a thoughtless move must have certainly knocked the wind out of DeMarcus Cousins confidence in the team, who was actually starting to build a rapport with the ousted coach and had already been wary of the team because of its considerable lack of stability at the beginning of his career.  Now Cousins has to bear the weight of yet another disastrous and wasted season despite a rather magnificent individual performance and has nothing to look forward to, but yet another return to the lottery where he is reminded of how much of a wasted season that it was.

If the team's fortunes do not change quickly, it will not be surprising to see that by the end of next season,  both Cousins and his agent will be so fed up by the Kings' front office foolishness that they publicly demand to get the hell out of Sacramento thanks to the incompetence of both Ranadivé and D'Alessandro.  From his interviews in the media and his general mannerism, it has become quite apparent that Vivek Ranadivé has no idea what he is doing since taking over the much maligned NBA franchise and despite what he or other Sacramento Kings fans want to believe, Pete D'Alessandro does not have the faintest notion, either.  He wasted the eighth overall pick on a guy who was projected to fall late in the first round, allowed a future star in Isaiah Thomas to leave in free agency despite the fact that he only could have paid just a million more than he offered more to keep him, and this final debacle of Michael Malone's firing. That same player whom he simply discarded not only would go on to have an impressive season with the +Phoenix Suns, but also would go one to lead the +Boston Celtics to a shocking playoff run leaving both him and the organization looking like fools for letting him go in the first place.  Stauskas, who was selected eighth overall in the draft, was an absolute disaster as he did not give the Kings the shooter that they desired him to be shooting just .365 from the field, failed to live up to the lofty expectations put upon on him for this season as he made little or no impact on the court thus further compounding on D'Alessandro's shortcomings as the team's GM.

This season had so much potential to be a special one for the Kings because they had all the pieces in place, but poor managerial and personnel decisions robbed the team of achieving anything worthwhile leaving both the players and fans once again wondering if this team will ever return to what it once was in the late nineties and early 2000s.  Both Rudy Gay and Demaruc Cousins have to be frustrated with the direction the team took because at this point in both of their career, neither one of them want to waste the prime years wasting away on a team going anywhere; however, with what has happened thus far, it is doubtful that things will change anytime soon unless there is a severe shake up in the front office (#firepetedalessandro).  Unfortunately, what happened in past cannot be changed and the best thing to for both the players, the fans and the Kings organization to do is pick themselves up, dust themselves off, learn from their past mistakes, prepare for the draft, wait for next season to start, and keep pressing forward.  Hopefully the Kings can turn things around before they really start to get ugly and once again fans in Sacramento will be wondering once again whether or not their team will remain their city, let alone finally make the playoffs.