Haven't done a FanPost here in a while, so I think it's about time I did one. Basically, it's a breakdown of each player on the roster that I wrote for Jimmy Spencer's new site Sac Midtown and Sacramento Press. Pics by me as well. Enjoy the read, starting now.
What a difference one off-season makes. In a span of three months, the Sacramento Kings lost six players from last season’s roster and gained seven new players.
It’s a welcome change for a team that’s trying to climb back into the NBA playoffs after being absent the last four years.
Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie and the rest of the staff were busy this summer. Here's what the team’s transactions looks like:
- Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Samuel Dalembert.
- Drafted DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside.
- Signed undrafted guard Donald Sloan.
- Signed-and-traded Jon Brockman to the Milwaukee Bucks for Darnell Jackson and a 2011 second-round pick.
- Signed Antoine Wright and Pooh Jeter.
- Did not re-sign Dominic McGuire, Sean May and Ime Udoka.
Overall, the Kings drafted two players, traded for two players and signed three players.
Head coach Paul Westphal has a new team to work with. Here’s an early look at the team’s roster:
Positions: PG = Point guard. SG = Shooting guard. G = Both guard positions. SF = Small forward. PF = Power forward. F = Both forward positions. C = Center.
Statistical Categories: PPG = Points per game. RPG = Rebounds per game. APG = Assists. SPG = Steals. BPG = Blocks. MPG = Minutes. (SL) = 2010 Summer League.
Tyreke Evans, G, 6 feet 6 inches, 220 pounds, second year, 20.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.5 SPG.
Evans had a phenomenal rookie season. Not only did he win the Rookie of the Year award, he became the fourth player to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in his first season.
Only 20 years old, he was able to take more shots at the rim per game than any player in the NBA, averaging 8.3 attempts. He averaged five made shots per game at the rim, tying LeBron James at first place.
What’s missing from his offensive repertoire is a jump shot, which is one of his focuses during the summer. If he develops a consistent jumper in his NBA career, he will be unguardable one on one.
An ankle injury knocked him out of contention for the Team USA roster for the FIBA World Championships in Turkey, but he will be ready to go when training camp begins.
Carl Landry, F, 6 feet 9 inches, 248 pounds, fourth year, 16.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG.
Traded to the Kings last season from the Houston Rockets, Landry, 26, is training this off-season to be able to defend the small forward position. At his height he may be an undersized power forward, but he’s proven to be an effective one.
He’s an efficient scorer who can finish at the rim with a dunk, a skill the Kings haven’t had in a while. Landry’s size and quickness enables him to get past defenders and to the basket.
He also has a good mid-range jump shot inside the arc. He doesn’t rebound the ball well, but the additions of Cousins and Dalembert well fill that void.
Landry is in the last year of his contract, so he should pick up his play like any player looking to land a big payday next summer. Living in a house instead of a hotel room should help too.
Beno Udrih, G, 6 feet 3 inches, 205 pounds, seventh year, 12.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.1 SPG.
Udrih ,28, made an unbelievable 180-degree turn in his performance. He went from his worst season in 2008-09 to his best season in the next.
In the 2008-09 season, his scoring decreased and his turnovers increased, but he enjoyed a career year the season after. He also proved the he could stay healthy, missing only three games last season.
He was also No. 4 in two-point field goal percentage among guards at 53 percent.
His shooting gives him the ability to play both guard positions while Evans is on the floor, and as he enters his third season, it would be a welcome sight for him to improve on his success.
Jason Thompson, PF/C, 6 feet 11 inches, 250 pounds, third year, 13.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1 BPG.
A surprise lottery pick in 2008 by the Kings, Thompson, 24, had a great first two months last season, averaging 15.3 PPG and 9.2 RPG. His play, however, became sporadic, averaging 10.6 PPG and 8 RPG the rest of the season.
Injuring his back and losing the starting power forward job to Landry didn’t help either, but he’s a potential double-double machine in the future.
Thompson has shown that he can score the ball and rebound and stay healthy throughout the season. He’s only missed five games due to injury in his career. He played in all 82 games in his rookie season.
He rebounds the ball well and has a good mid-range jumper, but he needs to work on it from certain areas of the floor.
Through only two seasons, Thompson has shown that he can be an effective player in the NBA.
Omri Casspi, F, 6 feet 9 inches, 224 pounds, second season, 10.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG.
Casspi, 22, came in as a surprise in the NBA. He became the first Israeli to play in the league, the team’s best small forward and a superstar back home.
Casspi has shown that he shoot from the wings beyond the arc and on the inside, although his shooting on the left of the basket needs help.
He had a hot start, but fatigue set in as the season progressed. Casspi will have to improve his conditioning to stay on the floor longer.
He’ll also have to improve his free throw shooting, which is odd considering he shoots well from everywhere else on the floor.
Casspi said he feels stronger, having gained 15 pounds, and now weighs 224 pounds, though he’s listed at 225 pounds on the roster. His strength gain gives him confidence that he can even guard power forwards.
Recently, Casspi had a sensational game playing for the Israeli national team against Great Britain. He posted 27 points, five rebounds, four steals and five blocks in his team’s 86-82 win.
Israel is trying to qualify for EuroBasket 2011.
Donté Greene, F, 6 feet 11 inches, 226 pounds, third season, 8.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.7 BPG.
Traded to the Kings in the summer of 2008 from the Houston Rockets, Greene, 22, has shown progress from his rookie season with the Kings. With the exception of free throw percentage, his stats went up across the board.
He also opted to shoot more shots inside the arc instead of catching and shooting for a three-pointer. He spent time at the shooting guard and power forward positions last season, but he’s best suited to play at small forward.
His length and mobility allows him to guard those three positions. He’s noticeably taller than the he was the season before as well.
Despite his height and athleticism, he rebounds the ball poorly, but the additions of Cousins and Dalembert will make his rebounding a non-priority.
He and Casspi will battle for the starting small forward job in training camp, but it’s a battle that will be good for them and the team.
Francisco García, SG/SF, 6 feet 7 inches, 195 pounds, sixth season, 8.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG.
Drafted in 2005 by the Kings, García, 29, is the last player remaining from the 2006 playoff team, which shows how much the team has changed since he was a rookie.
In the 2009 preseason, he broke his right wrist in a freak weightlifting accident that limited him to 25 games last season. He’s missed 74 games in the past two seasons.
Only time will tell if García can play like he did in the season before and be a valuable shooter off the bench.
He made a few key three-point shots in late-game situations in his breakout 2007-08 season and filled in well during the absence of Kevin Martin and Ron Artest.
Even during his own absence on the court last season, García was Casspi’s mentor off the court and is known as a vocal leader on the team.
He’ll be hoping to take his vocal skills next season not only in the locker room but on the court as well.
THE NEW GUYS
DeMarcus Cousins, C/PF, 6 feet 11 inches, 270 pounds, rookie, 14.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 BPG (SL).
There’s no other way to put it. Cousins was a beast in the Las Vegas Summer League.
He showed a variety of skills: scoring in the post, in multiple ways, and from mid-range, rebounding, defending, passing and running the floor. It’s no wonder he likes how Pau Gasol plays.
He even hit a game-winning hook shot with 2.9 seconds left in his fourth game. His conditioning came into question after he was noticeably tired, and his performance faltered after playing six games in seven nights.
His on-court maturity has been brought up even before he was drafted, but most forget that he’s only 19 years old, turning 20 this month.
His play earned him Rookie of the Month honors for the month of July and turned a lot of heads, including Nike. If he plays like he did in summer league, there no doubt that he will be in the running in the Rookie of the Year race.
Cousins made it clear that he wanted next year’s ROY award, and he wants to help the Kings win. Luckily, he has Evans to learn from about the ROY race.
With Evans’ ability to get to the basket and Cousins’ size and skills around the rim, the duo could be a force in the NBA for a very long time.
Samuel Dalembert, C, 6 feet 11 inches, 250 pounds, ninth season, 8.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG.
Dalembert, 29, is a big man who’s a defensive specialist. He is one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the NBA, something the Kings needed the most.
His offensive game is limited to alley-oops and cleanup shots, but he said he was never called to do anything more. It’s understandable while he was playing with scorers like Allen Iverson and Andre Iguodala and shooters like Kyle Korver his whole career.
For at least one season, he will have players like Evans and Landry to pick up the scoring load while he does what he does best – playing defense – because that’s what he was brought in for.
It’s what he’s known for around the league.
Like Landry, Dalembert is in a contract year. His play should be at its peak this season to ensure himself that he gets one more big contract.
Antoine Wright, SF/SG, 6 feet 7 inches, 215 pounds, sixth season, 6.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG.
Wright, 26, was one of the last serviceable swingmen in free agency, signing a one-year deal. He can defend shooting guards and small forwards and can shoot the long-range two-pointer.
Basically, he’s Ime Udoka’s replacement, only six years younger.
Playing for a bad Toronto Raptors team, he shot 43 percent within 16-23 feet of the basket. While playing for the playoff-bound Dallas Mavericks the season before, he shot 48 percent from the same distance.
Wright is good insurance if a shooting guard or small forward goes down to injury. It’s always good to fill out the positions on the roster. It’s better to have an emergency kit you never use than to need one and not have it.
Hassan Whiteside, PF/C, 7 feet, 235 pounds, rookie, 6.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.3 BPG (SL).
Whiteside dropped to the Kings in the second round, where they took him at No. 33. A long, lean, athletic shot blocker, he’s a project player who’s only 21 years old.
He’s shown athleticism and some offensive prowess on his post moves, which he has worked on with Hakeem Olajuwon, but he’ll need to gain some muscle to be an even more effective player.
However, gaining weight means that he may lose some athleticism.
He’s in trusted hands with coaches Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Truck Robinson and now Cousins’ high school coach and the Kings’ new assistant coach, Otis Hughley, to help guide him in his first NBA year.
If he adds muscle and polishes his offensive moves, he’ll be a valuable asset for the Kings moving forward
Pooh Jeter, PG, 5 feet 11 inches, 175 pounds, rookie, 14. PPG, 5.4 APG, 1 SPG (SL).
Jeter, 26, played well in Vegas with the Cleveland Cavaliers and previously played in Ukraine, Spain and Israel.
He hit the game-winning three-pointer with 6.9 seconds left against the Chicago Bulls, finishing with 20 points and 7 assists for the game.
While playing in Israel Jeter has shown to be a good on-ball defender, a good shooter and a good floor general. He needs to improve his close outs on shooters and his small size puts him and a disadvantage, but he’s only a back-up point guard.
Jeter had played on the Kings’ preseason roster in 2006 and on their summer league team in 2007, but his play this year earned him a one-year deal with the Kings.
Donald Sloan, PG, 6 feet 3 inches, 205 pounds, rookie, 3 PPG, 1 APG (SL).
Although the Kings had interest in him before the draft and signed the 22-year-old to a one-year deal afterward, Sloan did little in summer league to convince the Kings he deserved it.
Sloan was unimpressive in Vegas but he could be on the training camp roster. Reportedly, only $10,000 of Sloan’s contract is guaranteed. Maybe that’s why the team brought in Jeter.
The Kings have had mixed results bringing in undrafted point guards at the beginning of the season.
Although they brought in Ronnie Price, who has an established role with the Utah Jazz, Mustafa Shakur has had trouble staying and playing on rosters since they brought him in 2007, and Bobby Brown, who signed in 2008, has seen four teams in two seasons.
Sloan looks to be heading the way of Shakur.
Darnell Jackson, PF, 6 feet 9 inches, 253 pounds, third season, 0.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 4.4 MPG.
Jackson was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks for Jon Brockman. At 6 feet 9 inches, Jackson is an undersized power forward whose contract is completely non-guaranteed.
He could be waived by the team at any time for any reason, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he stuck around for training camp. After all, he did pick out No. 41 as his uniform number.
After being drafted by the Miami Heat and traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers the same day, Jackson has seen little floor time in his career. He only played one game for the Bucks after he signed with them.
Looking at all of the new players the Kings have acquired, it’s a dramatic change from last season’s team, especially from the team the Kings started with at the beginning of the season.
Kings Roster Early November 2009:
C – Spencer Hawes, Kenny Thomas
PF – Jason Thompson, Jon Brockman, Sean May
SF – Desmond Mason, Andres Nocioni, Omri Casspi, Donté Greene
SG – Kevin Martin, Francisco García
PG – Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih, Sergio Rodriguez
Kings’ Roster May 2010:
C – Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson
PF – Carl Landry, Jon Brockman, Sean May
SF – Andres Nocioni, Omri Casspi, Donté Greene, Dominic McGuire
SG – Tyreke Evans, Ime Udoka, Francisco García
PG – Beno Udrih
Kings Roster August 2010:
C – Samuel Dalembert, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside
PF – Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Darnell Jackson
SF – Omri Casspi, Donté Greene
SG – Tyreke Evans, Francisco García, Antoine Wright
PG – Beno Udrih, Pooh Jeter, Donald Sloan
With this roster, the Kings most likely won’t make the 2011 playoffs in the highly competitive Western Conference, but the team is taking a step in the right direction.
Ryan Thompson, Jason’s younger brother, could be part of the roster too. He was invited to the Kings’ training camp this fall, but he’s still considering other options.
With a lot of cap space available and an impending lockout next summer, the Kings could be in position to makes some significant moves next summer.
The last time the Kings became competitive in the West was during the NBA Lockout of 1998, when they drafted Jason Williams, traded for Chris Webber and signed Vlade Divac.
After that, the Kings were pretty good and only got better.
Until they do become playoff contenders, the Kings have to build their team, but they’ve got some good pieces to start with.