The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2011-12 Season Premiere

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It's Jimmer Time.

The Good:

1. Here We Stayed

On May 2nd, the Maloofs announced that they would not file for relocation and we were officially back in Sacramento for this season. We do still have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure this process isn't repeated anytime soon, but it was still a huge victory for the fans, the city, and our heroic Mayor.

2. Draft

The Kings did well in the draft this year, grabbing three prospective rotation players with three picks. Jimmer of course is the big prize, taken 10th overall and he is definitely going to bring back excitement to Sacramento. Honeycutt at 35 was a value pick as well, as he's very versatile and can guard three positions. Isaiah Thomas at 60 may just be the greatest 60th pick ever. We'll see how they pan out, but I think we did a great job here.

3. Chuck Hayes

I've had this post in the drafts for the past few weeks, and Hayes has been in all three categories before finally ending up here. As of the time of this writing, it looks like Hayes is indeed coming back to Sacramento, after his original contract was voided due to concerns with his heart. Luckily he got a second opinion from the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic and has been cleared to play. I know it was weird how this all went down, but it doesn't look like the Kings could have played it any other way. Personally, I'm just glad Chuck is ok, and am really looking forward to see what he can do in a Kings uniform. Tom Martin, editor of The Dream Shake shared his thoughts on Hayes with me recently:

Chuck Hayes is unlike most players who do the "little things," because in Chuck's case, what you see is exactly what you get.

Hayes is first and foremost a defender. He can guard any position from small forward to center; in fact, to close out a game in Boston a year or two ago, Rick Adelman stuck him on Paul Pierce, whom he proceeded to shut down for the game's final two possessions to seal the victory.

On the block, Hayes is a gigantic, yet very quick wad of mass. He's like Michael Turner to basketball; his low, stocky center of gravity gives him such an advantage when it comes to cutting off quick counter-moves in the post and maintaining position. Chuck doesn't block many shots, but that's because many of his "blocks" aren't counted in the same category. Chuck is a swiper: he'll often knock the ball loose mid-shot before his opponent can bring the ball to his shoulders.

On offense, Hayes has improved vastly. Is that a direct result of Rick Adelman's system? Perhaps. Adelman used Hayes as the center of the offense, literally. Each possession ran through Hayes in the high post. He'd hand the ball off, swing the ball to the opposite side of the floor or perhaps look backdoor for a cut and layup. Regardless of how Hayes is used in the future, in his time with Adelman, he became a very good passer and found a fluidity to his offensive game that never before existed (I mean, he recorded a triple-double last season. Like... what?). He's excellent in the pick-and-roll game and at some point borrowed a few layup tricks from Luis Scola. It used to be that Hayes couldn't finish, but that concern has since dissolved.

People say Hayes can't shoot. In game situations, they would be correct -- you'll never see him take a jump shot. Funny thing is, if you show up early to warmups, you'll see the Chuckwagon raining threes from the wing with his eyes closed. The dude has better ball skills than one would think -- thing is, he's often the last person an offense wants to see shoot the ball.

As for his weaknesses, they are simple and relate to his height. He has actually become an above-average rebounder -- especially on the offensive glass -- but he's best used as a power forward. Otherwise, he doesn't do much in the rim-protection department, leaving room for opposing wings to have a field day in the lane. He's a facilitator on offense, but not an answer to a lost possession by any means. If you're looking for a solid fifth option on the floor, Chuck's your man. If you're looking for more, you're in trouble.

Hayes seems to be a perfect fit for Sacramento. He's a great veteran presence, he grew up in the area and I think he'll bring a refreshing, passionate approach to the game that should bode well for the youngsters. He'll certainly be a nice influence on DeMarcus Cousins, but on the floor, he's someone who can stretch a defense and move the ball to options like Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans and the many others.

I wish Hayes all the best in Sactown. He certainly did his best while he was down South, and I don't expect any less of him now that he's at home.

4. Kings shore up the Wing

Without a doubt, the Kings weakest position last year was the Small Forward spot. Donté Greene and Omri Casspi failed to be consistent, and Francisco Garcia is more of a guard than a wing. In trading for John Salmons and acquiring Travis Outlaw off of waivers and drafting Tyler Honeycutt, the Kings finally have some depth at this position. It remains to be seen whether it is good depth, but it's at least stronger than last year.

5. Back in Black

The new jerseys look awesome, and I think the blackout against the Lakers in the home opener is a fun idea. This whole Back in Black thing sounds really familiar to me though...

Backinblack_medium

I'll take my royalties in the Brock Ness Monster account.

6. Goon Squad Classic

It was really great of Donté Greene to throw a charity game in the Sacramento area for basketball starved Kings fans. Sure, the basketball wasn't really competitive or anything, but it was fun and exciting to see our guys on the court again, and doing it all for the fans.

7. Kings re-sign Marcus Thornton

This should have been Priority #1 for the Kings as soon as the lockout lifted, and I was very glad to see how quickly the team locked him up, on a pretty fair contract too. Marcus is a big part of our team going forward.

8. Trading Omri Casspi for J.J. Hickson

Casspi clearly was frustrated here. He also simply wasn't good enough to be just given starter's minutes or anything. The Kings did very well in grabbing a legit big man in the NBA in J.J. Hickson. Hickson and Jason Thompson are both quality bigs in the NBA, and this year will determine which one (or both) gets to stay in Sacramento long term.

9. No Shawn Kemps on this Team

By that I mean that everyone seems to have come into camp in pretty good shape given the 8 months off. Obviously we're still away from guys getting into game shape, especially with a shortened training camp and pre-season, but it doesn't look as if anyone on the team slacked off during the break, even though DeMarcus Cousins jokes otherwise.

10. Flexibility

I know a lot of us wanted the Kings to go after some of the big names this summer, especially considering how much cap space we had, but as I mention further down, its not as if the Kings haven't been trying to add guys to the team, they just keep getting spurned. Right now I think we made some good additions, and we also retain a lot of our cap flexibility going forward, which is especially useful for trades.

The Bad:

1. Sandy Sheedy

Councilwomen Sandy Sheedy has decided to stake her re-election bid on being firmly anti-arena. I can understand being anti-arena if you have legitimate criticisms and make an effort to know what you are talking about (see Darrell Fong), but Sheedy isn't even making an effort to get to know anything about the project.

2. Goodbye Beno

With Beno, we didn't just lose a good basketball player, we lost a good person. We relied on Beno's consistency on the court a lot the last couple years, and I wish him the best in Milwaukee.

3. Trading Future Pick Flexibility

The one bad part about the Casspi for Hickson trade was that it included a future 1st round pick. The protections on this pick essentially make it so that we can't trade another pick till 2018 (unless we end up getting another 1st rounder to give to Cleveland in the near future). This kind of sucks for trading flexibility.

4. Spurned at the Altar

The Kings have been trying to spend this offseason but keep getting spurned despite offering more money. Jamal Crawford left for Portland and less money (I still consider that a good thing for us). Samuel Dalembert turned down more money to go to Houston. Andrei Kirilenko has had an offer from the Kings for weeks and he's still in Russia. Ailene Voisin also reports in this interview with the Maloofs that the Kings tried to get involved in the Chris Paul sweepstakes but couldn't since he had a preferred list of destinations. The Kings only way to really attract Free Agents to Sacramento is to overpay them, and when they aren't coming even when you do that, what are you supposed to do?

The Ugly:

1. The Lockout

The Lockout really, really, sucked. This cannot be understated. The deal that both sides agreed to could probably have been agreed to months earlier if people had chosen to act rationally. But it ended up taking the threat of a lawsuit and a potential missed season before a deal was reached. Now we are left with a 66 game compressed season, a mere two weeks of training camp and Free Agency, and the quality of basketball this year will suffer as a result.

2. Samuel Dalembert

With the loss of Hayes, the Kings seemed set to bring back Sam to shore up the middle, but then very peculiarly, they publicly withdrew their offer to Dalembert, even going as far as to issue a press release. Minutes later (literally, like two minutes later) it was reported that Dalembert was going to Houston on a two year, $13.7 million deal with a team option for the 2nd year. This does not seem like an overly expensive deal, especially for a quality center, so to me it looks like Dalembert was using the Kings as leverage and they got mad. Adrian Wojnarowski seems to back my theory up tweeting "Kings made Dalembert his two best offers of guaranteed money over past 2 weeks... but he clearly wasn't inclined to return there."

3. The Schedule

Directly caused by the lockout, this 66 game schedule is incredibly tough, especially early on. The Kings play 21 of their 33 road games BEFORE the All-Star break. They also get their only back-to-back-to-back early on as well.

4. Power Balance Goes Bankrupt

We really shouldn't have been surprised. I'm more worried about the fact that the guys who are buying Power Balance's assets might keep the name on the arena.

Player of the Offseason:

Jimmer Fredette

Without a doubt it has to be Jimmer. I'll admit that for much of last year leading up to the draft I was not a Jimmer fan. I wanted us to draft Brandon Knight. But now, I'm all in. I don't think he'll ever be quite as good as some of his biggest fans think he'll be, but he'll be a very solid player in the NBA. His vision is good, his shooting is just on another level, and he has a very high Basketball IQ. It's going to take a while for him to adjust to the NBA game, particularly in a new role where he doesn't have a blank check to just fire every time down the court. I think he'll figure it out though. Just judging from his two pre-season games, he already looks like a veteran out on the court.

Image / GIF of the Offseason:

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by SavageBeast

Runner-Up:

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by chenp22

Comment of the Offseason:

This goes out to Mayor Kevin Johnson, and whatever he said at the Board of Governors in New York.

FanPost of the Offseason:

"Thank You" by edm7.

Runner-Up #1:

2011 NBA Draft - Dalt99 System Player Rankings by dalt99

Runner-Up #2:

The Legend of the Patience Preacher by betweentheeyes

Runner-Up #3:

Fake Facts About Jimmer by Rickyflip

Highlight of the Preseason:

Caption Contest:

This Week's Picture:

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A reminder of the rules for the Caption Contest. Leave your caption in the comments below, and the most rec'd (to recommend a comment, hit action, then rec) caption wins.

This week's caption contest winner gets amnestied.

Question of the Week:

What will the Kings record at the end of the year be? My guess is 30-36. That'd be equivalent to about a 37-45 record in a normal season. I hope this team surprises me and does much better though.

And Nostradumbass Prediction for Next Week:

v. Los Angeles Lakers 12/26 W (Rematch of last year's crushing loss, and this time it's the season opener. The crowd and team will be pumped, and the Lakers will be without Bynum and Odom.)

@ Portland 12/27 L (Jamal Crawford will drop 79 points on us and we will all bow down to Ninja King)

v. Chicago 12/29 L (The Bulls were last year's best team and have kept their roster very similar, even improving their weakest position by adding Rip Hamilton. They have a leg up on everyone else since their chemistry is already there)

v. New York 12/31 W (Carmelo and Amar'e will be too busy thinking about how much they're going to party for New Year's Eve to play basketball)

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