So I wrote this article for this site that me and a couple of other friends started called Pardon My Bias. I know most if not all of you guys already know this information and I'm not saying anything new about the players and the team but just wanted to get your feedback on it to see whether you think this is an accurate assessment of the Kings and where they were and where they are going. You can see this article at http://pardonmybias.com/the-long-road-back-to-relevance-sacramento-kings/ . I can't wait for next season!!!. After the jump, check out the article in full.
Can Tyreke and the Kings makes some noise in the West in 2 years?
It has been a long time since the Sacramento Kings have been a contending team in the NBA. A team that went from perennial doormats to title contenders in the early part of this past decade is now starting to get closer and closer to becoming relevant again.
There's no question that the Kings were in a period of flux between the years of 2005-2010 when they could not figure out whether to blow up their team or not. (See C-Webb trade, Doug Christie trade for Cuttino Mobley, Bobby Jackson for Bonzi Wells trade, Peja for Ron-Ron trade, Kevin Martin $55 million extension in summer of 2007, Bibby trade, Artest trade, and finally the Kevin Martin trade).
When the team finally hit rock bottom in 2008-2009, (worst record in the NBA at 17-65 and worst in franchise history), they had the opportunity to select a player that changed the entire outlook of the organization which quite frankly, was bleak with Kevin Martin as the man that was sort of forced into the role of being the default franchise player...enough said... things were bad in the 916 (not to even mention long term non-personnel related issues for the franchise as well which I don't even want to think about).
The 2009 NBA draft however changed the entire outlook on the Kings franchise. They drafted the Rookie of The Year in Tyreke Evans who became the man from the moment he stepped onto the practice court in training camp by earning the respect of vets and holdovers from that horrible 08-09 debacle. While the Kings have not been in the playoffs now for 4 straight years, they have acquired an immeasurable amount of young talent. Besides Tyreke Evans, they have Donte Greene, Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, DeMarcus Cousins (rookie) and Hassan Whiteside (rookie). Now I watch the Kings very closely and pretty much read everything (blog, beat writer/local paper, ESPN article, etc.) known to man on them and have been watching all of their games since I was like 9 years old ... so I would like to think I know what I'm talking about. If you have never heard of these players or want to see my assessment of them you can click here.
Bottom line, the team is building via the draft as well as through development of young talent. When you're a small market team, this is the best and perhaps the only method to go with. Free agents generally only want to come to small market teams if they are winners. However, the only way to win (if you are Sac, Memphis, OKC, Portland) is to develop your talent and get better with experience and the Kings seem to be on the right track (don't get me wrong you still have to have 1-2 extremely talented franchise type guys). They are obviously swinging for the fences with DeMarcus Cousins by taking a high risk/high reward pick who during the summer league through the first 3 games looked like one of the top 5 NBA big men in 3-4 years but proceeded to either regress or lose interest in the last 3 games of the Vegas summer event. While I love the pick from both a talent and personality fit with the Kings, I'm still scared to death of DMC' dark side that was clearly seen in the last 3 games in Vegas. He became somewhat disinterested and looked like he was easily frustrated out there. The key for DMC will be to channel that frustration into positive energy and take it out on the opponent as he clearly did against Minnesota in game 3 when he commanded the ball and took over the last two minutes of the game ultimately hitting a game winning hook with two seconds left. One thing for sure, DMC will be one of the most watched rookies for all the supposed "baggage" that he brings with him from Kentucky.
The Kings are also being smart as they have not gone out and given ridiculous money to players just because they have extra money in their pocket. They are not going to be taking out long or bad contracts to pay players who are commanding higher salaries that will not be the same after the lockout in 2011. It was huge for them to get rid of Kevin Martin's contract as well as Andres Nocioni's as they will be hugely considered overpaid after the lockout (Nocioni, even more than he already is). Geoff Petrie has made solid decisions and his record speaks for itself as based on the position he has picked at, he has made excellent choices and he knows how to put a team together, develop it and add pieces at the correct times.
As for next season, I expect the Kings to be a much better rebounding and defensive team than last year. They now have 7 players on their roster that are 6'9 or taller and are clearly following the formula of having length and size will equal winning in the NBA. With the addition of Samuel Dalembert (basically a one year rental with an expiring contract) as well as DeMarcus Cousins, they will not be getting pushed around in the paint anymore. The Kings still obviously need a point guard for depth (as Beno Udrih is the only "true" pg on the roster) along with quality outside shooting to protect Tyreke and DeMarcus. I look to see which player at the 3 position (Omri Casspi or Donte Greene) takes the biggest step this year and I believe it will be Donte Greene (who still has a lot of potential people don't know about) who at 6'11 can play 3 positions and has shown a commitment to playing defense on the perimeter and will only improve even more. Landry will be interesting this year as more teams will be focused upon him due to his career season last year and will be playing a full season as starter's minutes unless DMC overtakes him in the rotation. As this team starts to develop, you can see the roles for each player developing as Jason Thompson has clearly been the best rebounder on the team for the last two years and that might be his MO as part of the core. Paul Westphal has clearly gotten the attention of his team with his honest assessment of his players and his positive attitude and patience that was seen throughout the season. His belief is that last year, the Kings learned how to compete and now they have to learn how to win this year.
Oh yeah and if Tyreke learns how to shoot a jump shot...things will just be unfair. I see the Kings winning between 35-40 games this year and definitely ready to compete for a playoff spot in 2011-2012 (if there is a season).