Here is my analysis of our 2011-12 Sacramento Kings. From predictions, player assessments, free agents, and even questions you guys might have as we approach the much anticipated start of the season. Just a little about myself: born and raised in Sacramento but currently a freshman at CSU – Northridge. I am tired of the off-season and want the season to begin so I can stop talking to all of these [REDACTED] fans in LA….
PF: Chuck Hayes | JJ Hickson
What they hope to add
· Veteran presence in the shape of a PG, SF, or C
· JIMMER (!!!!)
· Variety of scorers
· Rebounding - Size
· Shot blocking presence
· Too many ball-dominated scorers
· Winning veteran presence outside of Hayes
· Turnover prone
Tyreke Evans – 17.8 ppg | 4.8 reb | 5.6 ast | 29% 3PG
Tyreke has all of the makings of a superstar. He has unbelievable size and can get to the basket at will. Kings fans already know what he is capable of (20-5-5), and after an injury ridden sophomore year, Reke is going to be hungry to improve. I believe that he will have a breakout season this year that is reminiscent to Russell Westbrook/Derrick Rose. Will he be MVP this year? No. Count on him to make strides to be a better overall player. I look for him to continue developing his three point shot & becoming a better passer. If he improves he will be a tough matchup for opposing teams PG.
Marcus Thornton – 21.3 ppg | 4.7 reb | 3.4 ast | 36% 3PG
Marcus Thornton will be a vital part in our success after signing a four year, 31 million dollar contract with the team this past off-season. Thornton provides a spark on offense, superior shooting ability as well as an uncanny ability to hit clutch shots. He meshes with Tyreke well in the backcourt and proved to be a fan favorite in such little time. I believe his numbers will decline slightly (due to Tyreke’s breakout year), but his shooting numbers will increase a bit. Thornton will start or provide spark shooting off the bench, but whatever his role may be – it will be big. Defensively is where Thornton will need to improve for this team to be successful because we all know he is a scoring machine, but if he puts it all together he and Tyreke will be the perfect duo.
DeMarcus Cousins – 14.1 ppg | 8.6 reb | 2.5 ast |43% FG
DeMarcus Cousins has done everything possible to stay out of the media during the lockout, while improving his game. After a rookie year that provided clutch scoring (taking over against the Suns), face palms, horrendous fouls, and various red flags, I see Cousins improving his game during the next season. What impressed me the most throughout the lockout was how well he sealed his man off and took over in games (although little/no defense was played). If he continues to be a good passer from the low/high post, and spends more time in the paint (as opposed to shooting threes), I look for him to have a better year. The biggest factors in his success are: improving his field goal percentage, and stopping his foul rate. Cousins shot only 43% from the field last season, most coming from midrange jump shots. His numbers should be closer to 50% or higher, in my opinion. Also, Cousins was one of the league leaders in fouls last season. If the Kings want to possibly contend for a playoff spot, Cousins needs to stay on the court.
Francisco Garcia – 9.7 ppg | 2.3 reb | 1.2 ast |36% 3PG
Francisco Garcia has been a consummate professional during his tenure as a King, relied on to play smart defense and hit big shots. While most of us may be fans of Garcia and what he brings, I believe that if we sign another guard/forward, we need to amnesty Garcia. With this current Kings roster I don’t see Garcia being an integral part in the success we may have this season, mainly because we don’t have the minutes to give him. Depth is our best asset and we can count on him for a defensive stop or just having him out there as a potential shooter if the game is on the line. If he stays on the roster I don’t see him being a 6th/7th man, but rather a key role player that our team just might need (if our current roster stays the same).
Jason Thompson – 8.8 ppg | 6.1 reb | 1.2 ast | 51% FG
Jason Thompson has been an enigma of sorts since he entered the league – at least in my opinion. He has been a valuable reserve, capable of starting because of his solid play. Like Cousins, Jason Thompson is extremely foul prone and misses easy buckets, which is a reason I believe he is better served as a backup. He has a terrific motor and a decent midrange jump shot for his size. I believe that Thompson can be a heavy relied on backup as long as he continues to improve his inside game, both offensively and defensively.
Donte Greene – 5.8 ppg | 2.1 reb | 0.7 ast | 29% 3PG
Greene has been a frustrating player to watch in some respects, mainly because I think that all of us want him to finally find his niche in the league. Donte is a hard worker who doesn’t complain about his lack of minutes and is always looking to improve. There is no denying that he does not lack heart or passion for the game either. Coming into the league, he was trigger happy from behind the arc but had all of the tools of a good defender. I think this season he will gain minutes (unless we get AK-47) and finally make the strides, just as we hoped. I still believe he can be our starting SF of the future, as long as he continues to improve offensively and defensively.
Hassan Whiteside – 0.0 ppg | 0.0 reb | 2.0 fouls
Bulking up over the summer has a lot of Kings fans salivating over the possibility of watching Hassan Whiteside play. Playing only two minutes last season and battling a series of injuries, Hassan has regained health and continued to improve and could potentially become a Samuel Dalembert type of player. He is an outstanding rebounder and shot blocker, and could be what the Kings need in a backup center. I don’t believe that he is NBA ready yet, but Westphal could give him quite a bit of burn during the shortened season, unless they sign another big man. Overall, while he might make an impact for our team in the future, I don’t see it happening this season.
Chuck Hayes – 7.9 ppg | 8.1 reb | 2.7 ast | 53% FG
With the departure of Samuel Dalembert seeming more and more likely, I am happy that the Kings brought Hayes into the organization. In some respects I am happy that we received Hayes over resigning Dalembert because of his ability to play successful man to man defense. I believe that adding Hayes will have a plus/minus affect for our team next season. While Hayes will be able to guard opponents PF/C, our guards will have to play better defense because Hayes will not be able to bail them out with his shot blocking ability as Dalembert did. While he is only 6’6, he is a great defender and rebounder despite his size, using his strength to push guys out of position. Offensively, he is a great passer from the post and does not require touches to be successful. He also can finish in the paint and has become a decent free-throw shooter. He knows his role and rarely strays from it. We won’t be seeing him force up 18 footers next season.
JJ Hickson – 13.8 ppg | 8.7 reb | 1.1 ast | 46% FG
Trading Omri for JJ Hickson before the lockout was something that had me grinning from ear to ear. Just two years ago, Hickson was a player highly coveted by the Cavs. I recall the Cavs refused a trade for Amare because they did not want to rid themselves of Hickson. While he ended up not being what the Cavs wanted, I believed we have a valuable asset for our team. I had him pegged as our starter, but due to acquiring Chuck Hayes he will start the season off the bench. While playing for a depleted Cavs roster Hickson put up decent numbers while being the focal point of the team. I believe his talents are better utilized on this Kings roster, because he won’t be relied on as a first, second, or even third option. Defenses will focus more on Tyreke, Marcus and Cousins, allowing Hickson to possibly put up a quiet (but very successful) year.
John Salmons – 14 ppg | 3.6 reb | 3.5 ast | 38% 3PG
During the draft the Kings had quite a bit of criticism for trading down and acquiring Salmons. Maybe our draft pick wasn’t Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker, but I believe the Kings addressed our deficiencies by reacquiring Salmons. He is a black hole of sorts on offense, but I believe that will change. Back when he was on our roster we needed him to score. Maybe he
took forced a few too many shots, but this season will be different. He hopefully knows his role on this team and if he does it correctly, the Kings could be in for an intriguing season. He is a terrific defender and a nice three point shooter, who is capable of creating his own shot. (images of him shooting a contested fadeaway jump shot in the corner….YIKES) I think he will prove doubters wrong as prove to be a decent/respectable pick up.
I have to admit I was on the Jimmer bandwagon from day one, and I was overjoyed when the Kings selected him with the 10th pick of the draft. Analysts are unsure how well his game will transfer to the NBA, but if Westphal’s reports are right it will be an easy one. Jimmer has unlimited range and shooting is one skill transferable to the NBA game, however his main weakness (defense) may transfer as well. He may not be a great (or even good) defender for a while, but I believe Jimmer will be determined to prove all of his critics wrong. He has a deceptively quick crossover and can score in a variety of ways. I think he will put up decent numbers and might lead our team in 3P%. I see him coming off the bench this season, maybe starting if the three guard lineup proves to be decent enough.
I hardly heard of Isaiah Thomas coming into the draft but after reviewing highlight tapes I have to admit I was surprised he dropped to 60th in the draft. Pegged as “Mr. Irrelevant”, Isaiah has quite a bit of proving himself to do and I believe he will do it. He is our closest resemblance to a true point guard, and could serve as a Pooh Jeter role. He will provide a spark on offense as well as a new pace to the game, similar to that of JJ Barea. He is quick and can shoot from almost anywhere, but size is a huge concern. I see him serving some time in the rotation, as well as a few stints in the D-League.
Honeycutt could be an integral part of our team in a few years if he puts the effort in, but as of now I don’t see him cracking the rotation. I see extreme amounts of potential on both ends of the floor, but I don’t believe he is ready for the NBA game just yet. I hope to see him in the D-League this season, only so he can continue to improve and make strides in his game.
Potential Free Agent Pick-Ups
Jamal Crawford – 14.2 ppg | 1.7 reb | 3.2 ast | 34.1% 3PG
Most people on STR would prefer if the Kings declined on picking up Crawford, but I don’t quite see why we shouldn’t. I agree that he doesn’t seem to fit the current roster, and he will take minutes away from some of our guys, but he could prove to be a valuable pickup. While I don’t want him signed because I want Jimmer to play as many minutes as he possibly can get, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. Jamal is a veteran presence that we need and if he comes to Sacramento I am sure he will know his role. If he wants to compete for a championship or at least playoffs then he could have went to the Pacers, Knicks or even the Blazers. If he joins the Kings he (hopefully) will know that he will need to do what is asked and that his minutes
may willbe reduced.
Andrei Kirilenko – 11.7 ppg | 5.1 reb | 3.0 ast | 36.7% 3PG
I am one of the many on the bandwagon from AK-47 to sign in Sacramento because of the idea of how good our defense could possibly be with him, Hayes, Reke, and Salmons all in the starting lineup. Although he is 30 years old, I still consider him a valuable asset and I could see us nabbing him in the 8-9 mil a year range. He will provide smash mouth defense, perimeter shooting and even more size. He could be a winning veteran presence that we need to succeed last season. My bet is that if he manages to sign with us, we can realistically think about the playoffs. I think what he brings to the Kings is just what we need and I am all for signing him.
Part 2 : NBA season preview, Predictions, More free agent possibilities, etc. (coming up)