I sat down this morning to write my traditional bi-weekly Sacramento Kings power rankings and I found myself at a loss. In the past two weeks we've seen DeMarcus Cousins be suspended by the organization, left at home for the trip to Portland, and then put up his first career triple double. How do you rank that? I'm sure I could, but it would be throwing dart at my George Maloof dart board.
So instead, we'll treat this as a year in review power ranking. We'll rank everything, or at least everything major that I can remember. In another slight twist, we're going to go in reverse order. Because this list is so long and filled with so many bad things, we're going to get the worst things over with first. The list will become happier as we move along. This is part of Sactown Royalty's ongoing effort prevent widespread depression amongst Kings fans.
753 to 23. The Maloofs
This is why we had to start with the worst elements of 2012. The Maloofs sum up the vast majority of the issue this franchise has faced in the last calendar year. It feels like so long ago, but it was the beginning of this year when the Maloof family reneged on a deal for a new arena. A deal in which the city would pay the majority of the costs, the NBA would cover the majority of the Maloofs' costs, and the Maloofs themselves would need to pay a pittance. We all know how it played out, and I don't feel like dwelling on it all over again. But this was the year of backing out of deals, crappy PowerPoints, and shady economists.
The Maloofs were named the worst owners in all of professional sports by ESPN, and most Kings fans feel they were ranked too high. Congratulations Maloof family. If you had stuck to the deal, you'd be damn near the top of this list. Instead, you're at the bottom.
22. The Looming Threat of Seattle
Seattle is currently the greatest threat to keeping the Kings in Sacramento. Chris Hansen has deep pockets. Who knows if he'd be willing to part with the reported $500 million it would take for the Kings to consider selling the team. This threat seems all the more viable since David Stern has publicly stated his goal to return a team to Seattle before his impending retirement. Hopefully it comes in the form of an expansion team. In the meantime, we've dealt with unintentional irony of Seattle fans desperately praying to steal a team from another city.
21. Virginia Beach
Although widely viewed as a ploy to gain leverage from other suitors, the Maloofs dalliance with Virginia Beach reminded us all that the threat of relocation remains very real. Although the deal fell apart almost as quickly as it popped up, the city of Virginia Beach is very serious about acquiring an NBA franchise. Although the deal is dead for now, I'm not ready to completely write them off as a possibility. As the Maloofs taught us, nothing is final until they cut the ribbon on a new arena in Sacramento.
20. The J.J. Hickson Debacle
Omri Casspi has hardly lit the world on fire in Cleveland. Taking a chance on a young player in a contract year and on a small salary is hardly a big risk. But for the Kings front office to include a first round draft pick, even a heavily-protected one, was a terrible mistake. That Hickson became such a terrible element on the team that he necessitated a buyout before the season was even over only served to compound the mistake. It was a horrible decision by the front office.
19. The 2012 Offseason
In an offseason that saw Ryan Anderson change teams, Eric Gordon and Nicolas Batum heavily pursued in free agency, and Kyle Lowry traded, the Kings big splash was Aaron Brooks. Although many fans expected little in the offseason, the Kings were especially quiet. It was disappointing, even if the team did do a nice job of retaining Jason Thompson (more to come on him).
18. Geoff Petrie Asleep at the Wheel
The cause of the previous two entries. Geoff Petrie, long given the benefit of the doubt due to leftover goodwill from the early 2000s, hasn't pulled off an impact acquisition in quite a long time. And if your rebuttal to that is Marcus Thornton, I hope you realize that your rebuttal is that Petrie found a gunner sixth man.
17. All Things DeMarcus Cousins
Placing DeMarcus Cousins is incredibly difficult. He broke out last season and looked amazing. He's struggled at time to start this season. He's still raw, he's still a headache. We were outraged that he was left off the Olympic squad, but looking at those Colangelo comments in the wake of recent events they seem less outrageous, no? Some fans are now ready for him to be traded. He's been suspended three times this season. It's a mess. You could argue this is too high or two low and either way might be correct. Moving on.
16. Farewell Donté Greene
Someone said this in the comments the other day, and I apologize that I don't recall who said it. But I don't find myself missing Donté Greene the basketball player. I miss the hell out of Donté Greene the person. We continue to wish him nothing but the best as he recovers from offseason injury, and I hope to see him back in the league soon.
Acquired for a second-round pick, it's hard to be disappointed with JJ overall. He's regularly ranked near the bottom of my power rankings, and has been incredibly frustrated to watch on offense. But lately he's been better. If I did the actual power rankings today, he'd be the highest he's been all season. Hopefully he can continue the current trend. Extra props for the incredible game-winner over the Knicks.
14. The Keith Smart Era
Keith Smart's tenure as Kings coach began with optimism. He seemed to click with Cousins. And then he got his extension. At the time I said it felt all too familiar. The start of the Smart era seemed very similar to the early-Westphal era. But Keith Smart would be our coach for "forever". Now, it's rocky. The line-ups remain shaky and inconsistent. The connection with Cousins has disappeared. It's too soon to completely write off the Smart era, but it certainly isn't a success.
13. Kings hire Clifford Ray
Although Ray hasn't been able to connect with Cousins the way we might have hoped, he is unquestionably one of the most respected big man coaches in the NBA. That he's a member of the Kings coaching staff is a positive.
12. Geoff Petrie doesn't receive contract extension
It's easy to forget now, but in March there were rumors that Petrie was about to receive another extension. Luckily, those rumors fizzled out, and it now appears Petrie will leave the organization at the end of the current season, if not sooner.
11. Thomas Robinson falls to the 5th pick
The Kings did not move up in the lottery, but for the first time in a long time the Kings did not fall. When Thomas Robinson slid to the fifth pick, it was a no-brainer. T-Rob hasn't looked spectacular to start the season, but I still consider his draft-day fall and selection by the Kings to be a good thing. We've seen a Kings rookie look completely lost in his rookie season, and put it together later. I still believe.
Speaking of putting it together later...
10. The growth of Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer looked completely lost last season. His growth this season has been nothing short of spectacular. It's a major highlight to see Jimmer looking like a competent NBA player.
9. Kevin Johnson
KJ earned a lot of fans around these parts for his efforts towards a new arena. Even though things fell apart, he remains a champion for keeping the team in town. If not for the Maloofs bungling the arena deal, KJ would likely be at the top of this list. He's a little farther down through no fault of his own.
8. Kevin Fippin, StR Social Media Director
No explanation needed. Fippin was a huge part of the social media scene for the Here We Stay movement, and it's great having him on board with the StR crew.
What a huge surprise he was at the start of 2012. From being the 60th overall pick in the draft, Mr. Irrelevant quickly grabbed the reigns. He continues to be a fan favorite, despite inconsistent playing time early this season. Fittingly, he seems to have recently recaptured the starting point guard role.
6. Sleep Train Arena
The naming rights agreement with Sleep Train is a good thing. Despite the jokes made in the national landscape, it's nice to a have a prominent, local company supporting the team. The train whistle after each made 3 is pretty great. And it's a hell of a lot better than Power Balance Pavilion.
5. Kings media coverage
Although there are bright spots and not-so-bright spots, we've seen some great media coverage this year. Sacramento received some very positive coverage during the arena debacle. Locally, props to Ailene Voisin (who really stepped it up this year) and Marcos Breton. Aaron Bruski has also done a very nice job chronicling the situation in Sacramento.
4. Chris Lehane, political consultant and executive director of "Think Big Sacramento", compared Maloof Sports and Entertainment to North Korea
That was awesome.
3. Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson and the Kings reached a contract extension, and JT has lived up to his end of the deal. He's become incredibly efficient, and is the most reliable Kings player on a game by game basis.
2. Another Year in Sacramento
Despite the arena deal falling through, we mark another year spent in Sacramento. Every year we keep the team is deserving of celebration and recognition. We'll keep taking it one year at a time.
1. The Sactown Royalty community
You guys. You guys are the best part of 2012. This team is miserable to follow and cover on a daily basis, but this community is our group therapy session. The highs are that much better because we all went through the lows together. The community gains new members, loses old members, but always remains great. Without you guys, Sactown Royalty wouldn't be what it is. I know I speak for all of the editors here when I say thank you for making 2012 an incredibly fun year. Thank you for your passion, your discussion, your humor, your insights, and your enthusiasm. It's a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this community.
Have a happy and safe New Year's celebration.
What did I mess up? Let me know in the comments.