FanPost

Realistic expectations for a 25-win team

I went back to the seven seasons before last season and found 18 teams that had won between 23-27 games in a season and averaged 24.78 wins.

Here's a summary of what they did in the following season:
* The average team won 36.06 games the following year, adding an average of 11.28 wins.
* Fourteen teams got better, three got worse and one stayed the same.
* The best gain was the 2006-07 Celtics, who went from 24 to 66 wins and an NBA title.
* The next best win total was Oklahoma City last year with 50 wins, and improvement of 27 wins.
* An additional six teams won at least 40 games. They were the 2003-04 Miami Heat (42), the 2004-05 Chicago Bulls (47) and Washington Wizards (45), the 2005-06 Utah Jazz (41), the 2006-07 Toronto Raptors (47) and last season's Memphis team (40).

Let's take a closer look at these eight teams with more than 40 wins to see where the Kings stack up:

2007-2008 Boston Celtics, 66 wins vs. 24 wins
The Celtics added the Big Three and a bunch of nice complimentary parts, and Danny Ainge was the Executive of the Year. Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green and Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and two No. 1s who turned into Jonny Flynn and Wayne Ellington were traded for Kevin Garnett. Delonte West, third on the team in minutes the year before, was part of another package sent to Seattle for Ray Allen. Paul Pierce returned from injury, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen got more minutes and James Posey and Eddie House were the key free agent signings. Doc Rivers was in his fourth season.

2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder, 50 wins vs. 23 wins
Oklahoma City continued to play their youngsters and watch Kevin Durant blossom into one of the five best players in the game, while Russell Westbrook proved to be a capable second fiddle and Scott Brooks was the Coach of the Year. Durant, Jeff Green, Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha all played in all 82 games and they generally avoided injuries. Nenad Krstic played in 76 games after only playing 46 the season before, while Sefolosha had only played in 23 games the season before. Rookies James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor combined to average more than 20 points per game. Nick Collison remained as part of the rotation, but Kyle Weaver fell out of favor, Earl Watson was waived and Desmond Mason wasn't resigned. Brooks had taken over the team the previous season after P.J. Carlesimo was canned following a 1-12 start.

2009-10 Memphis Grizzlies, 40 wins vs. 24 wins
Memphis didn't really improve in the draft, adding Hasheem Thabeet and Sam Young, but they added the rebounding and scoring of Zach Randolph to a core group of young players that included Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Only Gay, Mayo, Randolph, Conley, Gasol and Young played more than 1,000 minutes last season. There was also a lot of addition by subtraction. They didn't resign Hakim Warrick and Quinton Ross, Darrell Arthur fell out of the rotation, and Kyle Lowry and Darko Milicic were traded. Lionel Collins became the interim coach at the end of the previous season and stuck out the whole year, becoming only the third coach in the previous six seasons to do that.

2006-2007 Toronto Raptors, 47 wins vs. 27 wins
Toronto already had Chris Bosh and changed the cast around him. They got rid of Mike James, Charlie Villanueva, Jalen Rose and Matt Bonner and cut Morris Peterson's playing time in half. They drafted Andrea Bargnani, signed Anthony Parker as a free agent and picked up T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic in exchange for Villanueva and Bonner. Jose Calderon and Joey Graham played on both squads. Jorge Garbajosa, a 29-year-old rookie forward who impressed recently on Spain's national team, was fourth on the team in minutes, but his NBA career only lasted seven more games due to injury. The team jelled in Coach Sam Mitchell's third year.

2005-2006 Utah Jazz, 41 wins vs. 26 wins
Utah drafted Deron Williams and added him to a nice core of Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring. Okur became a full-time starter and played all 82 games, while Kirilenko returned after missing half a season and was second on the team in minutes. Carlos Boozer only played 33 games or they may have been better. Jarron Collins, Devin Brown, Milt Palacio and Keith McLeod all logged decent minutes. Raja Bell left to go to Phoenix, Gordan Giricek fell out of the rotation and Howard Eisley wasn't resigned. They had no coaching worries as Jerry Sloan was again at the helm.

2004-2005 Chicago Bulls, 47 wins vs. 23 wins
The Bulls traded Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams to the Knicks and didn't bring back Kendall Gill or Eddie Robinson. That left Kirk Hinrich, Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis. They drafted three rookies, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, and signed another rookie, Andres Nocioni, as a free agent. Tyson Chandler cracked the rotation and became an impact player. Hinrich led the team in minutes, Duhon became a starter and Gordon emerged as a super sub. Scott Skiles was in his first full season after taking over the reins early in the previous season.

2004-2005 Washington Wizards, 45 wins vs. 25 wins
The Wizards had a young team and saw Gilbert Arenas go from 19.6 points per game to 25.5 per game as a 23-year-old. They already had Larry Hughes and added Antawn Jamison in a trade with Dallas. Arenas, Hughes and Jamison combined to average more than 67 points a game. Brendan Haywood also improved his game and Kwame Brown went from leading the team in minutes to an afterthought. It was Eddie Jordan's second season as coach.

2003-2004 Miami Heat, 42 wins vs. 25 wins
The Heat drafted Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem and signed Lamar Odom and Rafer Alston as free agents and added them to a core of Eddie Jones, Brian Grant and Caron Butler. They also didn't resign Mike James and lost him, Travis Best and the immortal Vladamir Stepania to free agency. Malik Allen fell out of the rotation. Stan Van Gundy took over coaching duties for a burned-out Pat Riley and the team barely made the playoffs. The following season they dealt Odom and some other pieces for Shaq, and two years later they were champs.

What jumps out at me from this list is the two teams that became champions along with the teams that showed promise and then flamed out: Chicago, Toronto and Washington. Boston and Miami both had a superstar or emerging superstar and went for it and added more superstars to the mix to get over the hump, while the three teams that showed promise but then fizzled never really added any more really significant pieces and hit the wall. Adding Brad Miller and John Salmons is not the same as adding Shaq, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

Let's look for similarities in these improvement seasons following the season where the team won in the mid 20s:
* The coaches were relatively new, but only Van Gundy had not at least coached the team the previous year. Most were in their second or third year.
* The teams added a combination of young talent and veteran talent to improve the team or they added a few extra pieces to a young core.
* Many teams also got rid of the core of their bad teams.

Where does this leave the Kings? They have the emerging superstar in Tyreke and the coach in his second year. They've added some young talent this year (Cousins) and some veteran talent (Dalembert). I'm not sure if they've upgraded as much as the teams on this list, but the jump to an average of 36 wins seems very doable. To do more than that, Tyreke will have to take some major strides in his game and they'll have to keep upgrading the roster.

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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