Hey gang! Happy Monday! After another tough loss, we could use a little pick me up around these parts. So let's engage in a fun little exercise of some power rankings! We'll rank every player on the current roster. This can't possibly go wrong!
The team's best player! Hooray! Cousins currently leads the team in scoring, with 17.8 points per game. Cousins also leads the team in rebounding %. He's been a beacon of hope around these parts. You know, except for that whole 2-game suspension for foolishly leaving the locker room to confront a hack of an announcer. And the whole "offensive black hole" thing. And the terrible field goal percentage. Other than those things, rainbows and lollipops up in here!
2. Tyreke Evans
The team's second best player! Hooray! Although he hasn't been perfect, Tyreke has been playing pretty well this season. He's averaging 12/5/3 this season, which is a far cry from the fabled 20/5/5, but is still well rounded contributions. He's also stepped up defensively, which is huge. We've known for a long time that Tyreke had the ability to be a good defender, but now he's finally doing it. Of course, he still hasn't fixed his jumper. And the team still doesn't seem to know where the hell to play him or who to play him with. But, um, you know, at least he's playing some defense! I mean, sure, he's still giving up 1.1 points per possession on defense, which ranks him in the bottom half of the league, but he looks like he trying! Huzzah!
3. Chuck Hayes
Chuck has been everything we thought we were getting last year. He's been good on defense, a willing passer, a veteran presence on the team. Although it was apparently John Salmons who called the players-only meeting this past week, Hayes and Francisco Garcia were the ones who led the meeting. And Hayes is the perfect voice for that message of accountability. And joy of joys, our undersized center who does this little intangible things is one of the brightest spots in a season in which we were supposed to have more depth than at any point in the past 5 years.
4. Marcus Thornton...I guess
Maybe this was a bad idea. Thornton hasn't been playing great this season, but he's still scoring, right? Averaging 14 points per game! And he played the good soldier when he got moved to the bench! He's still scoring, which is what we really need him to do. Wait, he's shooting 39% from the floor and 26% from three. Oh my. That's...not ideal.
The Jimmer! Finally getting his chance to shine! I mean, as much as someone can shine in 10 minutes per game. But he's shooting 51% from the field, and 37% from 3! That's the type of efficiency the team needs. And his confidence is back. And he doesn't look completely lost anymore. That's awesome! Well, on offense anyway. The defense is still pretty terrible. He doesn't stop anyone, and sometimes wanders away from his man. And he absolutely cannot stop pick and rolls. Let's just move on.
I'm gonna jump on a little soapbox here for a moment. I do not understand why Isaiah was benched, and his ranking in this list is in protest. Isaiah has seen his minutes jerked around as bad as anybody on this team, and yet he's still been one of the better Kings this season. I cannot fathom what he did to lose Smart's confidence, but this is getting ridiculous. He's shooting 37% from three, 42% from the field. While not spectaular numbers in terms of the NBA as a whole, those are fantastic numbers within the context of this roster. Yet here we are seeing the offense not being run through him, not utilizing his pick and roll ability. And now he's been taken out of the starting line-up and being given all of 14 minutes against Brooklyn? Whee!
JT might be a little low on this list. I could easily swap him with Jimmer or Isaiah. He's not flashy, but he gets the job done. He's averaging 12 and 8 right now, which is about what you rely on JT to give you. I think he'd be more valuable coming off the bench at this point, mostly because I think he's a workhorse who would be a good influence on the second unit in ways that Hayes can't be. It's fitting that JT is now a reliable element of this team, since this is the most unwatchable team since the horrendous 17-win campaign in 2008-09, JT's rookie year.
8. John Salmons
Oh god what have I done? These rankings were a terrible idea. Sorry, where was I? John Salmons. Salmons missed the start of the season due to his wife giving birth, and most of us were quick to offer Salmons an extended period of time to be with his family. And yet, how terrible is this team that his return was a net positive. I don't think many of us would argue at this point that moving him into the starting line-up is an improvement. And major kudos to Salmons for being the one to call the players-only meeting, even if he chose to allow others to lead the team. Salmons never demonstrates much emotion, so it's nice to hear stories the remind us he still cares. And that's where this team is. Maybe last season truly was an aberration and Salmons will come back and help this team? Oh my, did I just type that? This team is poisoning my brain.
9. Aaron Brooks
I mean, Aaron Brooks has been better than I thought he'd be, but that's mostly because I had such low expectations. He's had moments that have made me like having him around ("we don't need no stinkin' teeth!"), but mostly he just replicates all the problems this roster already had. I hope Petrie can finally get this out of his system. Congrats, Geoff, you finally put Aaron Brooks on your roster. And he's fixed exactly nothing. But his defense has been better than expected, I'll give him that. However I still do not understand why he's the starter.
10. Thomas Robinson
It's way too early to judge Robinson. Way too early. Any evaluation at this point in his career is absurdly early and should be dismissed. Nonetheless, it's been disappointing, hasn't it? He isn't adjusting to the NBA as quickly as this team needs him to. And that's not his fault. It's not on him that he's been thrust into this godawful organization. But it's still disappointing. Especially when guys like Damian Lillard come in and look amazing. But I try to remember that James Harden was an afterthought as Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans battled for ROY.
11. Francisco Garcia
I'm putting Garcia here because I'm angry. I'm angry at the players below Garcia on this list. And I'm angry that a medicine ball robbed Garcia of what he brought to the floor off the bench. And I wonder what his career might have been if he'd landed with a better team somewhere along the way. And I'm angry that we still have to rely on Garcia to step up and be the veteran voice on the team.
12. James Johnson
And here we find yet another alleged answer to the problem at small forward. The knock on Johnson coming from Toronto was that he was very talented, but didn't play within his limits. I'd like to award that scouting assessment the understatement of the offseason. Johnson is talented. That's more than can be said for other members of this roster. But he has a complete lack of self awareness. If Johnson focused on playing tough D and scoring when the opportunity presented itself, he could be the answer at small forward. Unfortunately, he seems to think himself an offensive wunderkind, the type of player who should be creating his own shot on a regular basis. He's easily the most aggravating King at this point in the season.
13. Travis Outlaw
The biggest question I have is how in the world Outlaw has played more minutes than Francisco Garcia this season. I understand we were without Cousins and Robinson at one point, but let's just glue Outlaw to the bench. Deal?
14. Tyler Honeycutt
When compiling this list I had to pause for a moment. I know the Kings had 14 players on the roster, but couldn't for the life of me remember who the last guy was. I held a lot of hope for Honeycutt. But he has been a massive disappointment, and right now I'll be shocked if he sticks with the team long term. With a team desperate for a spark at small forward, he can't even demonstrate enough to stay in Sacramento right now, and is managing a measly 12 minutes per game in Reno.
Oh god these rankings were a terrible, terrible, terrible idea.