Another season winds down and so does the third season of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. We'll be taking a look at the Good and Bad of the year, and then introducing the Greenies, the third annual StR awards for you guys, the commenters. Because this site just wouldn't be the same without you.
1. The Season That Wasn't Supposed to Happen
One year ago, we weren't sure that there would even be a 2011-12 Sacramento Kings season. Whether it was because of relocation or a lockout, it didn't look good. But we did have a season, and it was in Sacramento, and that's more than most of us could have asked for. The future is once again in doubt, but at least not for next year. I will continue to hold out hope as long as this team is still here, and I will continue to be skeptical of the chances of a new arena until I'm sitting in one.
See Player of the Year
3. Isaiah "Mr. Relevant" Thomas
While DeMarcus Cousins has been the clear best player on the Kings this season, the best story has to be Isaiah Thomas, taken with the 60th pick of the NBA draft. Most 60th picks don't even make the team that drafts them. Isaiah did that and much, much more. First he earned a rotation spot, and then midway through the season he was promoted to be the Starting Point Guard. He won Western Conference Rookie of the Month twice in a row for February and March, and had an even better month in April when Kenneth Faried won. Isaiah improved in each month he played, and he helped make the Kings offense one of the most potent in the league after the All-Star break. Looking at Isaiah's game, it's so incredibly well-rounded already. He's an amazingly hard worker, and his biggest weakness, his height, also serves as his greatest strength, since it fuels his work ethic and desire to prove himself. To get just a hint of how good Isaiah was this season, I think most of us would still think he was a huge steal if he had been selected with our 2011 lottery pick.
4. Kings Get Smart
Paul Westphal was fired early in the year after a bad start and a feud with the team's best player. Mario Elie had left in the summer to go to New Jersey, and the Kings had hired former Golden State Head Coach Keith Smart to take his place. When Westphal was fired, Smart was hired as interim coach and later as permanent coach for the rest of the season and for the one after. A lot was asked of Smart, particularly in a season where he had no preparation time at all and very little practice time to implement his changes. But he did start to add some much needed changes for the team. He got the team to get out and run. He ended the Tyreke as Point Guard experiment and improved both the PG, SF, and bench by moving Evans to SF, Isaiah to PG, and Salmons to the bench. He brought in established developmental coaches Alex English and Clifford Ray, and Ray in particular had a big effect on the play of Cousins and Jason Thompson. He wasn't afraid to take chances when the Kings needed it, like inserting Terrence Williams into a lineup for crunch time defense in his first game after being signed.
Not all Smart did was great, and his rotations at (a lot of) times were weird. But he was asking and getting more out of his players than Westphal ever did. He now has one year left on his contract, and he'll have to do even better to earn more than that. He seems like he has an offseason plan that he really wants to integrate, and the full training camp and normal schedule will help. The biggest help of all would of course be upgrading the talent level, but that's not up to Smart.
5. Jason Thompson
Jason came into the year not knowing where he really stood with the team, and since it was the last year of his rookie deal, that had to be nerve-wracking. The Kings had brought in two more big men in J.J. Hickson and Chuck Hayes, and Hickson got the early chance to start over Thompson despite Thompson being the incumbent. Thompson continued to work harder than ever though, and he earned his starting spot back. He refined his post-game, particularly his left hand, as well as other parts of his game like off the ball movement. He definitely earned a new contract, but we'll see what it takes to retain him. Every team could use a guy like Jason Thompson.
6. Terrence Williams Makes an Impact
Shortly after the Kings waived J.J. Hickson, they picked up the recently waived Terrence Williams as well. In his first game with the team, he sat for the first 3 and a half quarter before Keith Smart decided to put him in to guard the red-hot Klay Thompson. Williams answered the call by helping to stymie Thompson and do a little bit of everything. A little bit of everything became Williams calling card for the rest of the season as he proved that first stint wasn't a fluke. In his 18 games with the Kings, he averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 0.9 steals in 20.5 minutes off the bench. Williams will be an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer, and probably should be retained by the Kings. I don't foresee there being much of a competition for his services based on his past, but he seemed to be a good fit for this team, and gives the team another look off the bench.
7. Everyone Who Worked So Hard to Get a New Arena in Sacramento
Thank you to Mayor Johnson and his staff, the city council, AEG, David Taylor, and even David Stern and the NBA for trying your damnedest to get a deal done that would give the city a new entertainment and sports venue. Everyone here poured their heart and soul into this project, as did all of you who went out of their way to come support the efforts. It's heartbreaking to see this all torn down by a bunch of (editor's note: The remainder of this sentence was deleted for extreme profanity. A technical foul has been assessed to DeMarcus Cousins).
1. The Lockout
The months long lockout really made this a different season, and not in a good way. The season lost 16 of its 82 games and began in December instead of late October/early November. Preseason games were cut from 7 to 2 and teams had about a week of Free Agency instead of the normal month or two. Training camp was condensed, and the rookies didn't have any Summer League or contact with the organization until after the lockout. The season itself was compressed and games happened with little time left in between for practice or recuperation.
2. Geoff Petrie's Offseason
Aside from the selection of Isaiah Thomas, Geoff Petrie may have had his worst offseason as the President of Basketball Operations. His marquee free agent signing of the summer was Chuck Hayes. Hayes was supposed to be the veteran glue guy who helped preach team defense and be a great passer out of the high post. Hayes ended up coming into camp way out of shape, played injured most of the season, and generally wasn't much of a positive when he was on the floor. The two trades Petrie made in the offseason also turned out terribly. The first, which sent the 7th pick and Beno Udrih out, only go the Kings the 10th pick and John Salmons in return. The Kings dropped 3 spots in the draft, sent out the better player, and received the worst contract. It was a terrible, terrible deal. The other trade, which sent Omri Casspi and a future first round pick to Cleveland for J.J. Hickson, also bombed, and Hickson was waived midway through the season because of how terribly he was playing. Finally, the Kings picked up Travis Outlaw off of the amnesty wire and were treated to an even worse performance from Outlaw than the one that got him amnestied in the first place. So yeah, good pick up on that Isaiah Thomas guy, but even Isaiah doesn't erase all those other mistakes.
3. Jimmer Fredette's Struggles
One of the pros of picking Jimmer Fredette in the NBA draft was supposed to be that he was as NBA ready as they come. His shot was awesome, and he could score on anybody. Jimmer ended up being a prime example of the fact that being awesome in college doesn't mean you'll be awesome in the NBA. Jimmer had a much tougher time handling the ball against NBA pressure, he had a much tougher time scoring without the green light to shoot every time, and his defense was as bad as advertised. Now I'm not saying Jimmer didn't make strides throughout the season, because he most definitely did. He learned to better adapt to the pressure, to take better shots, and he was even moving much better defensively at the end of the season. He's shown that he's a hard worker and I legitimately feel he can be a most improved player candidate sometime in the next couple years. Still, it was a much poorer than expected rookie campaign.
4. The Small Forward Position Sucks for the Fourth Year in a Row
Small Forward has seemingly been the Kings biggest weakness forever now, and every supposed fix never works. John Salmons was supposed to be that fix this year, and he ended up having probably the worst season of his career. Travis Outlaw was a similar situation, Francisco Garcia has never been a good option here and Donté Greene failed to take advantage again. The best option the Kings had at Small Forward all season was when the undersized Tyreke Evans played the position.
5. Marcus Thornton's Thigh
Curse you Dwight Howard. Marcus Thornton was the same awesome scorer we fell in love with last year whenever he did manage to play, but he missed 15 games this year due to a thigh injury he received after running into a screen set by Dwight Howard early on in the season. It never fully healed, and he re-injured it towards the end of the season. The Kings were just 3-12 without Thornton in the lineup, and two of those wins came against the Bobcats and the Laker's third stringers. A healthy Thornton makes a huge difference to how this team plays.
6. J.J. Hickson
None of us probably expected Hickson to set the world on fire but we expected sooo much more than what little he gave us. In Sacramento, Hickson gave little effort aside from shooting every jumper he saw, and it ended up with him getting waived. He played much better in Portland, and to me, that's an attitude and effort thing more than anything else. It was clear he didn't want to be here, and he played his way off the team. I have no sympathy for that, and good on the Kings for cutting him.
7. Tyreke Evans Falls Down the Totem Pole
I wrote about 2,000 words with my thoughts on Tyreke Evans this week. I don't have anything to add to it without repeating myself, so if you missed it, here's the link.
8. Maloofery of the Highest Order
Last summer, the NBA said they would give the city of Sacramento a year to come up with a viable arena plan to keep the Kings in Sacramento or there would be no barrier for a relocation attempt. The city spent that entire year working tirelessly to get this done, and in February had finally come up with a framework of a deal that everyone, the city, the NBA, AEG, and the Maloofs, seemed to like. It was widely heralded as a big success, even moreso when the City Council approved this framework by a 7-2 margin. The Maloofs themselves called it a fair deal.
But the Maloofs pulled out of the deal in April, claiming that it did not make any sense for them to take it, asking for more concessions that would be insane for the city to give. The Maloofs went ahead and torpedoed the deal, even having the gall to suggest that they were doing the city of Sacramento a service by rejecting the deal. The city was willing to put up $255 million, AEG almost $60 million and the NBA would have fronted all $76 million for the Maloofs. The Maloofs still said no.
Now they say they are committed to Sacramento. These are just words, words we have heard many times before, including in the months prior to when we found out they wanted to leave for Anaheim. All along, the Maloofs have claimed that they need a new arena to keep the team here, and now that they are finally presented with one, they balk the moment it comes time to sign a check.
Right now the Maloofs are stuck in Sacramento. It is abundantly clear that the City is finished dealing with them, that David Stern and the NBA are pissed at them (although to what extent, who knows), and that the Maloofs have burned a lot of bridges with the community they claim to love.
To me, there is no doubt in my mind that after a year or two, the Maloofs will find some new excuse to try to leave Sacramento. They claim that is not the case, but if that is so, why can we get no more than simple words. Give us something in writing. PROVE IT. George Maloof says they already have proven it. How? I really want to know.
Player of the Year:
18.1 PPG, .448 FG%, .702 FT%, 11.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.5 STL, 1.2 BLK, 30.5 MPG in 64 Games Played
Many people were expecting and hoping for improvement from DeMarcus this year. Many people also had questions as to just how he would handle himself during a lockout. So how did DeMarcus Cousins end up doing?
He blew everyone's best expectations out of the water. Cousins asserted himself this season as the franchise's cornerstone, despite a rocky start. Paul Westphal was fired after a feud with Cousins, and ever since that point, DeMarcus blossomed. His efficiency was still too low for a big man, his foul problems persisted, but he improved so much in his sophomore season that it's kind of ridiculous. He improved his scoring, his rebounding, his defense and cut down on his mistakes. He became the first King to average a double-double since Brad Miller, and the first to average 11 rebounds since Chris Webber. He led the league in Charges Drawn and Offensive Rebounds and was 16th in Total Field Goals Made, 14th in Free Throws Made, 9th in Free Throw Attempts, 13th in Defensive Rebounds, 5th in Total Rebounds, tied for 18th with Josh Smith in Steals(!), 17th in Total Points, and 18th in PER. At just 21 years old, those are some ridiculous numbers.
He still has a lot of room to grow and a lot of weaknesses to work on. For one, he also was in the leaderboards of several categories you don't want to be on, including 1st in Fouls, 15th in Turnovers, and tied for 1st in Technical fouls. His FG% of .448 is still terrible for a man with his size and skills. His conditioning, while much improved from his rookie season, still needs a lot of work, particularly in Keith Smart's rebound-and-run system.
But the future is exceedingly bright for DeMarcus Cousins. His emergence this past season is one of the reasons I am not particularly concerned
if when the Kings miss out on Anthony Davis. So many teams want the #1 pick so that they can get a guy like Cousins, and we're fortunate to have him. The only one that can get in the way of DeMarcus Cousins becoming one of the best big men in the NBA is DeMarcus Cousins himself. He's so close already.
Comment of the Week:
My dream scenario from this quote
Call me Mr. Stern. Are you drunk?
Oh, sorry, I mean Mr. Stern. Definitely not not drunk. I have a ComputerPoint my Mom made for you!
So here's what you said last year before Sac totally torpedoed my awesome arena deal.
And here's what the recolation comute said. Sorry, I'm not good with big words.
So, Mayor Evil Face killed our deal. Can we move to Disneyland now? You promised.
Ohhhh. Sorry. Fredo. That's what we call... a non-binding agreement.
Oh. But without a move, we won't have enough money to keep owning a team.
GIF of the Week:
Highlight of the Year:
Last Week's Winner: AngryTree
DeMarcus Cousins celebrates with a kick. Hundreds of miles away, Blake Griffin pauses, looks at a referee, then falls on the floor clutching his chest. Cousins is immediately assessed with a technical foul.
Last Week's Runner-Up: anthonysam
Best Captioner of the Year:
I calculated this by going back through the captions and awarding each caption contest winner 2 points and the runner-up 1. And the winner, being the only person with two winning captions and 4 total points was:
Four people finished with 3 points, and they are andy sims, AnotherStupidSN, kyleramos, and Bill2.
Lottery Projection and Draft Prediction:
Final Lottery Position: 5th
Chance at #1 Pick: 7.6%
Draft Prediction #1: The Kings will not jump into the Top 3.
Draft Prediction #2: The Kings will finish with the 6th pick in the draft.
Draft Prediction #3: The Kings will do something incredibly rash and trade Tyreke Evans for another lottery pick or some other draft day trade.
And Nostradumbass's Predictions:
36-29 for the year, Nostradumbass' best prediction percentage yet, and also the third straight year where he would have had a great percentage simply by predicting a loss each time.
And now the moment you guys have been waiting for, the 3rd Annual StR Greenies.
1. The StR Fanpost (Drama) of the Year:
The Maloofs are Still F*cking Idiots by rbiegler - Biegs eviscerates the Maloofs in this post inspired by Drew Magary. If you haven't rec'd it, go ahead and so, it's only 6 away from the previously unheard of 100 rec's.
2. The StR Fanpost (Analytical) of the Year:
Killing the Hydra by Grantnapeareatskittens - A good post from this past summer on how the Kings can help unclog the SF spot of some its least useful pieces.
It's the "offense", not the talent. Now in Pictures by SPTSJUNKIE - Junkie uses pictures and analysis to detail just how terrible the Kings early season offense was.
3. The StR Fanpost (Game Recap) of the Year:
Tyreke Evans in Manila - 1st game by icemanjl - A good review of Tyreke Evans playing in the Philippines when we were starved for basketball.
Tyreke in Manila - Game 2by icemanjl - The second part of icemanjl's foreign adventures.
4. The StR Fanpost (Comedy) of the Year:
Kings 2012-2013: A Year in Preview by IamPurple - Hilarious stuff and a much needed laugh.
A Kings Fan's Guide to Yiddish by betweentheeyes - Mazel Tov to this Mensch.
5. The Xinyue75777 Troll of the Year
This award goes to the commenter who only has one purpose and fulfills that purpose like no other.
And the Greeny goes to:
Some highlights of CousinsEvansDUO:
who the hell could stop him? 6'11 270 pound PG, freaking unstoppable. He's a great dribbler, great court vision, great playmaker, I wouldn't mind trying it out at least for a little.
I'm loving the classic defense hes providing us and such a warm sight of relief after the garbage we witnessed in the 1st half.
6. The Comment of the Year
This award goes to the most profound, or funniest comment of the year.
And the Greeny goes to:
Being a fan of the Sacramento Kings has never been about cheering for a winner. It's about enjoying and showing gratitude for the entire experience, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It's about defiant, irrational pride. We don't want want Kobe's kind of respect or even Durant's kind of respect, because Sacramento never has and never will be gifted anything, the team nor the city. The respect we want and the respect we have had is the only kind of respect we can get- that of a team, a city, and fans that celebrate our victories with true appreciation and persevere through difficulties with whatever hope we can cling to.
We filled our crappy arena in last year's finale to cheer our crappy team for what seemed would be the very last time. We waved signs, we chanted, we screamed ourselves hoarse, we emptied 26 years of blood from our hearts as our team fought hard, fell behind, heroically charged back, and ultimately fell short. Then we kept right on cheering, the game already lost. We've been given another chance to fill our crappy arena and cheer our crappy team, to wring our hearts of any blood left in there. I hope the guys in black give the fans in the arena good reason to cheer, but the real game being played and the real reason to cheer will have nothing to do with the scoreboard on that night.
7. The StR Photoshop of the Year
This award goes to the best display of fake imagery of the year.
And the Greeny goes to:
BurningFeathers technical mastery with photoshop is amazing. Here's to hoping for a lot more.
8. The Everybody Dance Post-Game Thread Gif of the Year
This award goes to the Post-Game Thread Gif that received the most recs all year.
So since you mentioned I.T....
9. The Best Natting Meme of the Year
This award goes to the meme that lasted the longest and was most used and recognized by StR users throughout the year.
And the Greeny goes to:
Foul/Technical Foul on DeMarcus Cousins. I don't know who started this, but it has truly become a staple meme on StR. Whenever anything bad happens, it's a foul on DeMarcus Cousins, regardless if it's his fault or not.
Forever. This meme was started by Gavin Maloof actually, when he said he wanted Keith Smart to be the Kings coach forever. Now StR commenters have turned this into a meme of wanting something forever.
10. The Dejan Bodiroga Foreign StR Commenter of the Year
This award goes to the best poster on StR from another blog, and can at times be considered one of us.
And the Greeny goes to:
Skeptic Con Urquell
Skeptic is a Warriors fan by trade, but has spent a lot of time with us this year watching and commenting on the team and the arena situation. It's nice to have these kind of outside perspectives in a regular commenter.
JulyFish proves their is something inherently good in all people, even Lakers fans like himself. He's been very supportive of the Kings staying in Sacramento and has been following the story.
11. The StR Nickname of the Year
This award goes to the nickname given to a player by StR
And the Greeny goes to:
Hustlin' Husky! This nickname was given to Isaiah Thomas in our annual Jerry-isms thread by glazier_25 and Jerry has used it all throughout the year.
12. The StR Rookie Commenter of the Year
This award goes to a commenter who joined after the end of the previous season and managed to become a solid contributor and member of the StR community.
And the Greeny goes to:
Allbenji - joined 11/28/11. Allbenji joined StR before the start of this season and has become a regular in threads, racking up 1000+ comments
BurningFeathers - joined 12/9/11. He doesn't comment much, but he is easily the best user of photoshop on the site already, knocking it out of the park each time.
13. The StR Commenters of the Year:
This award goes to the non-editors who I feel have gone above and beyond as StR commenters and Sacramento Kings fans.
And the Greenies goes to:
1. Wallywagon11 - Wally has been a trooper in his analysis and thoughts on the arena process. A lot of us have to come to rely on him for a more balanced opinion.
2. SPTSJUNKIE - He really came into his own this season, good analysis, some funny comedy, just a very good overall poster.
3. jjham15 - Just another awesome run over at Cowbell Kingdom, essentially acting as the fan's beat reporter. Great work by the entire team over there, along with the awesome work on the Small Market, Big Heart documentary.
4a and 4b. Edm7 and Kfipp - My Here We Stay Spirit Bros, who showed up at so many council meetings this past year and other events. These guys are as passionate as it gets.
5a, 5b, and 5c. - otis29, ElRonToro, and andy sims - The StR big three of the commenting sections. Humor, analysis, and great discourse is guaranteed with these guys.
6a and 6b - Betweentheeyes and BlueJohn - These two seem to be the most frequent commenters on my GBU posts, and I appreciate all the feedback and responses you guys give to what I write.
On a personal note, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have read my writing, rec'd my work, and simply been awesome Kings fans. I'm truly blessed and honored, and this website simply wouldn't be the same without you.
Another thank you to Tom Ziller, the best robot boss in the business, who gives me this incredible opportunity to write for this amazing website. Thank you to my co-editors for good times and fun e-mail threads.
Until next year, this has been the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.