I know pretty much everyone that has clicked on this post is coming in here to say what an idiot I am (and while that may be true) hear me out.
It's been a rough start. Almost a terrible start. But something has happened the last two games, the coaches are sitting some of the players that should have been sitting from the start! So amazingly when Thorton is out of the line up the team's play improves. When Salmons is out of the line up (at least as a starter for now) the team's play improves. It is quite a concept. The only thing I am curious about is why couldn't the coaching staff see what was so evident to most of the fans of the team in the pre-season? Why waste 9 games of the season? Oh well.
The good thing is they have rid themselves of 3/4 of their problem. If they finally realize that Vasquez is the final part killing the start to these games perhaps we might really get on a roll. I know there are quite a few Vasquez fans. And yes I realize the guy can pass. But look what Dragic did to him last game. He scored the first 11 points. What is Chris Paul going to do to him? You can't start a point guard that cannot stay in front of his man, it breaks down the entire defense! There is a reason New Orleans was so excited to replace the third leading assist man in the game. A few extra assist cannot make up for his major deficiency on defense. I know a lot on here say IT is perfect off the bench. But his numbers would be the same starting and he is infinitely a better defender and we need him to start the game.
But as this year goes on this team will get better and already has. You know moves will be made that will improve the outlook (hopefully) for our future too. I would be very excited to move Salmons for a 2nd round pick. And although we have zero use for Salmons a playoff bound team in need of a veteran 2 guard (not SF) could find use for him. If Salmons was a back up 2 guard for a team like OKC he would be a great fit, almost like Garcia is now for Houston. If we pull off a miracle (and I don't think we can until next year when his deal is expiring) and get rid of Thorton without taking on a terrible contract I will be amazed.
But back on track.....I think with a starting line up of IT, McLemore, Mbah A Moute, JT and DMC will compete and do well in this league with Malone preaching defense. I am also in the belief that a small rotational bench of Hayes, Jimmer, and Outlaw can provide enough spark to help too. I kind of hope we are able to package Vasquez to help move Thorton and get Ray back on the team and playing backup minutes while this team developed. I know Ray will put the effort to defend, and has the ability to defend (Vasquez has the heart and desire, just not the ability to guard NBA PG's). If Malone gets this team to buy in to defense and he plays the players capable of defending then this team will be in a lot of games with a good chance to win their fair share. So how do the Kings get close to that 8 spot. Let's look.
A lock for the playoffs are....
Extremely likely to make the playoffs
Surprise teams that I do not know are for real yet but we will assume they are...
Teams in battle for the last two spots.....
7) Golden State - are already dealing with injuries. Every time since I have followed Golden State and they showed any kind of promise they imploded the next season. Curry is already battling injury and if Bogut goes down so does their season. I think this is a team built on some shaky players (health wise) and I think they are one slip away from falling out.
8) Timberwolves - They flash promise but never seem to pull it off whether it is because of injuries (like last year) or just bad luck. Whatever it is, I won't believe until they actually do it.
9) Memphis - A puzzling team. They have some aging players that played well for Hollins but don't look the same so far this season. The fact they have a negative net difference in scoring right now is a bad indicator for me.
10) New Orleans - A young exciting team. But their main piece, Anthony Davis has been hurt quite a bit so far. If he stays healthy they will compete and play well.
11) Sacramento - Defense will win you more games than you should. I think by mid-season our defense will look good, just wait and see!
Teams that are out of it...
Utah - do I need to say why?
The Suns - They play hard and have a bright future, but they are a team that will fall off as the season moves on. They have no front court and rely exclusively on fast break points. I don't see them lasting.
Denver - Karl is a hell of a coach and that will be seen as this team falls off as the season goes on.
Lakers - Kobe will not be Kobe. Nash will not be Nash, and Gasol will be the Gasol of last year. The collection of D-league and NBA rejects on this team will not get them to the playoffs. The Lakers are looking to next off-season anyway when they have almost no returning players on their roster and hope Lebron decides to come to town (but I predict they end up with Carmello, good luck with that Laker fans).
So out of a group of Golden State, T-Wolves, Memphis, New Orleans and Sac with two playoff spots for grabs I would say we have a shot if....
Golden State gets the injury bug
Memphis plays old
New Orleans hits beat up and plays to their youth
T-Wolves remain cursed.
Sacramento plays Defense.
My actual prediction is we finish 9th just outside looking in. I think Golden State and T-Wolves get the last two spots. I think Sac and New Orleans turn up the heat on the warriors and wolves though and the league knows that next year that Sac and New Orleans will make some noise. Although the first 10 games had me pulling my hair out, I think this coaching staff is getting its act together and I like that DMC is buying in. I like IT. I like what Outlaw has been doing. I like seeing Mbah playing some D, I like the flashes Ben has showed (excluding the horrible air ball shots of the other night). There is a lot to like going forward. I think we finish the season strong. So laugh at me and tell me I'm wrong. I may complain sometimes, but I am an optimist too. We finally have a defensive coach, and that will pay dividends this season.
What do you all think?