GIven last year's rookie's performances, it is easy to see why some would place the same expectations on this year's batch. Especially given the fact that this year's rookies are also the "people's choice." The phrase I have coined for this phenomena is "Sweet Rookie Hangover" syndrome.
But what kind of expectations can be fairly placed on the new guys? I'll offer my two-cents after the jump.
So, the collective “we” got our man in this year’s draft. And then we got our other man.
How freaking awesome is that!?!
Personally, I am stoked. However, forgive me if I purposefully temper my expectations. While I do believe that we got two potentially great players, I also recognize that it would be extremely unlikely that they have the kind of instant impact that Tyreke Evans had last year.
It is easy to fall into a fervor over our new rookies. Whether it’s because we actually got the players we wanted this year, or because there are some premature utterances of back-to-back ROY’s, I get the feeling that many of us are expecting some significant immediate dividends from our draft investments.
DeMarcus Cousins could make a significant impact earlier than later. All of this of course depends on how he adapts to the NBA game, his conditioning and his ability to control fouls, which for most new NBA big men proves to be quite a challenge. From the sounds of it, DMC is motivated to prove doubters wrong and is serious about getting his conditioning in peak shape. This is good news.
Bad news could come in the form of limited playing time, foul trouble, or losses. Cousins is used to winning and being a dominant force in the post. In the NBA, he will be less dominant than he has ever been simply because of the steep level of competition. He may still be dominant in time, but not to the extent he is accustomed to. Where he was once a man amongst boys, he is now a rookie amongst men who are all “the man.” My concern over DMC's reaction to limited playing time is somewhat alleviated due to the fact that he didn’t log a ton of minutes in college. So, I think until DMC is able to slip into the main big man role, he will be okay with around 20 minutes per game, if that is what Westphal’s game plan allocates.
But, what if the game plan is ten minutes per game? What if we are still losing games at an alarming rate? How will that affect DMC’s attitude and motivation to remain serious about working on his game, and more importantly, working on his conditioning? How would all of the above affect the fan base and our ability to support him?
Given the addition of Dalembert, as well as the improvement that JT, Greene and last year’s rookies should show, I already like our chances to win more games than last year. I am confident that at some point before the all-star game, Cousins can make significant contributions to our team. However, as I stated, I am not expecting the same kind of immediate contributions that Reke made to our team. I’m not expecting another ROY.
And you shouldn’t either.
I admit it’s easier than it has been in a long time to be optimistic about the future of this team. Sometimes, that optimism gives birth to unrealistic expectations, though. Especially in this scenario, when it comes on the heels of the accomplishments of last year’s newbies. Add to the mix the fact that our first rounder this year was the fan favorite, and a recipe for disappointment begins cooking. Last year most of us wanted Rubio. Tyreke wasn’t the fan favorite. We didn’t know what to expect. We watched him flourish as the year unfolded and were rewarded with a 20-5-5 campaign and the Rookie of the Year hardware.
Casspi and Brockman pleasantly surprised us by making contributions, showing heart and playing with hustle. Simply put, last year was one of the best drafts any fan could ask for. This year, we seem to be off to a great start and there is definitely reason for excitement.
The point is we should all hope that our new rookies can be as effective as last year’s rookies, but we should not expect it to turn out that way. In no way am I trying to rain on the parade or preach doom-and-gloom. I am optimistic about the team that this can become and the role that Cousins and Whiteside will play in our ascendancy out of mediocrity.
But I am also willing to be patient. I will not freak out it the Kings do not garner repeat ROY trophies. I will not slander Cousins if he doesn’t produce 20 points and 10 boards a game this year. Basically, I WILL NOT BE UPSET IF THESE ROOKIES DO NOT HA VE THE SAME IMPACT that last year’s new guys did.
We got two potentially really good players in the draft this year. One of them should have some kind of impact sooner that the other. One of them, it seems, has the chance to become a dominant frontcourt player. Additionally, there does exist the opportunity to have a Center-Point Guard combo that is as effective as any other in the league.
Thus, my excitement is piqued and has grown to a level that is higher than it has been in quite some time. But as far as my expectations for this year’s rookies?
Well, I just expect that they work hard, give 100% effort, work on their game and come to practice and games everyday with the right attitude and a professional approach.
If they do that, then our other expectations COULD be realized, as well. But, for now, rather than heaving my most jubilant, hopeful and unrealistic expectations upon them, I'll just say this:
Welcome to Sacramento, gentlemen. Give us your all, and we'll give you ours.