Hope-the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best (as defined by dictionary.com). So I have chosen to relate this word to the Sacramento Kings. Why do I still have hope? After nights like tonight, I often wonder the same thing. Am I a complete moron for expecting this team to all of the sudden make the playoffs and build a new arena? Maybe so. I guess the more logical reason would be that I'm a diehard fan. I choose to overlook all of the negatives and improbabilities and focus on the possibilities of what could be. I'm a glass half-full person, one might say. Regardless, I still support this team they call the Sacramento Kings that play at an outdated arena formally by the name of Arco. The "Arco Thunder" was evident against the Oklahoma City on Thursday night. "If that game didn't give anyone hope for the future, you don't like Kings basketball! OOOOOOOOHHHH BOY!". After a win like that, it is easy to say that life is good in Sacramento and the Kings are an up and coming team. That isn't the reality of it at all, as we saw tonight.The most frustrating part of watching this team play is that they are young. It's like watching an uber-talented 7th grader grow into his ability, you see the potential but you also see the bone-headed mistakes. We've mentioned this before but your best players have to be your best players every night. For Tyreke Evans to have 4 points on 1-9 shooting against an average Suns team is a WTF type of performance. I realize Tyreke is just 22 but man I want him to grow up fast and take over games on a nightly basis. I just don't see that right now. DeMarcus Cousins on the other hand is starting to become the man child that we all thought he could be when he was drafted. I think Keith Smart is finally the right coach for Big Cuz, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Imagine if we had traded Cousins after he was sent home by Westphal. Things can always get worse, and that would've been about as bad as it gets.
I do like the play of our rookies so far this season. Isaiah Thomas was an absolute steal with the last pick in last year's draft. He brings energy off the bench and has the ability to change the momentum of the game with his quickness, driving ability, passing and shooting. Jimmer Fredette, however, I haven't been as confident in. Nights like tonight make me wonder why he was the worthy of the 10th pick in the draft. He is quite one-dimensional with his jump shot at times. I have seen his passing ability at times, which is encouraging. But on the whole, when Jimmer isn't shooting well he tends to not be able to contribute. We have to remember that he is a rookie and there is a huge learning curve for even the best college players adjusting to the NBA. I think Jimmer will continue to work hard and try to become close to what he was in college. I'm not sure I see him as a starting NBA player, but I do think he will be a solid rotational player for his career. Whether he was worthy of being the 10th pick is very hard to tell at this point.
Honestly I've been highly disappointed in the three players we added this offseason via trade (J.J. Hickson, John Salmons) and via free agency (Chuck Hayes). Probably the biggest disappointment has been Hickson. I really thought we got the better end of that deal with Cleveland for Omri Casspi and a pick. Whether his struggles have been due to his lack of minutes, lack of effort, adjustment to a new system, etc. I don't know. What I do know is that he is averaging 5 pts. and 5 rebs. this year after averaging 13 and 8 the year before. Obviously he was one of the main guys in Cleveland by default but I was still expecting better production from him this year. John Salmons has been another player that hasn't really been great but hasn't really been awful. Unfortunately, this team can't afford to settle for that. This team needs an above average SF, and Salmons is below average most nights. He was supposed to be a "defensive stopper." I think we can all agree that he has been anything but that on most nights. Not to mention that he can't really score consistently and insists on settling for jumpers instead of driving or passing. Pardon my frustration, but the proof is in the pudding here. We wonder why the burden always falls on Tyreke, Marcus or DMC, it's because the PF and SF are essentially non-existent from an offensive standpoint on most nights. Yeah we do get an occasional 20 point effort from Thompson or Salmons every once in awhile but those are few and far between. Maybe we should just tank it for Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist? I'm still optimistic that we can make a playoff push but damn do we need to choose a direction for this season. Either go all in or fold, don't go halfway and then lose out. I feel like that's what the Kings decided to do this season. They re-signed Thornton late in the offseason and brought in players that the fans would recognize like Fredette, Hickson and Salmons. I realize that big time players don't want to come to Sacramento but with our cap space, you have to do better than that.
Then comes the arena issue. Am I optimistic that a deal can be done by the deadline? I guess. I live in Cincinnati, I don't really know about the day-to-day happenings of the arena deal. I heard about the 5-4 vote which was closer than what people expected. I know that Sandy Sheedy is a clown from watching her on that city council video a few months ago. I know there are some hard liners who have no idea what the Kings are all about and will do anything to stop an arena deal, even though it will clearly be a long-term asset to the financial success of Sacramento. I also know that these arena deals are a long process even if everyone is on board from the start. Really all we can do as fans is take advantage of our Democratic rights. I love how people have taken it upon themselves to keep the Kings in Sacramento. That inspires me. That gives me hope. I don't care if we are set up to fail. At least we are set up! Sometimes you have to fail to achieve success. This arena deal has failed before and clearly some people have learned from the past in formulating this new proposal. Whether this time will do the trick is anyone's guess. This thing has been pretty close to a miracle so far though. The Kings had the bus packed for Anaheim after the conclusion of last season but Kevin Johnson stepped up and asked for one more season. He got it and here we are again. We'll all continue to fight and we're in this thing together. There is strength in numbers. We have to will this thing to victory. If you believe, you can achieve anything. I'm at the hoping stage right now. It is hard to believe that this arena deal will get done or that the Kings will ever be good again. Time will tell as it always does. I'll continue to watch from afar and hope for the best.