Disclaimer: this article represents the author's views, not necessarily those of Sactown Royalty. This is my take on the King's players, and what role they may play in the inevitable future success of the Sacramento Kings.
The Hustlin' Husky looks great inserted into the new lineup. Offensively, he is just as valuable as a starter compared to when he was the 6th man. He has done well passing the ball as well. In his 7 starts, he averages just over 20 ppg and just over 7 apg, while shooting 46% from the field and 41% from downtown. He also clearly has been looking to move the ball more than when he was coming off the bench, and, on top of all that he knows how to throw an alley-oop. His straight-line speed is already scary, but combined with his quickness, he is one of the most explosive players in the NBA. We see this at times on defense with great hustle plays that nobody else on the team attempts; it seems like he always knows when he can get a hand on the ball. He defense needs improvement, but as of now that can be said for every player on the roster.
I see Thomas as a quality starting point guard in the NBA and the future point for our Kings.
2. Ben McLemore
Oh Ben. I think it was clear that a starting role was not helping McLemore until we got Rudy Gay. I'm not sure it's still the best spot for him now, but he's a big upgrade over everyone else we could start. I'm really liking these past two games where he has shot 13-19 for 30 points. He's probably the best cutter we have on the team already, and I think he's gonna start scoring even more off of Cousins' passes when he gets doubled. I love how McLemore doesn't hesitate from taking three point shots, even when he has been missing. I would rather see him take one or two bad 3 pointers a game than pass on one or two open ones, and I'm sure Coach has told him something similar. However, when he puts the ball on the floor, it gets scary. He gets to full speed in one step and doesn't slow down. I think a lot of this is nerves though, because he seems more controlled driving in garbage time against backups. I love the effort and hustle he gives, and while he is still learning defense, I love his overall potential (those missed dunks!) and his potential fit on this team. Looks like he has both star potential and a great work ethic.
I see Flight 16 as a good to great starter for the Sacramento Kings for years to come.
While I hate the thought that "the Kings ruined Jimmer", I'm starting to see it. I give Malone credit for putting him in the rotation, because he clearly has a role in the NBA. However, after the dark ages where Jimmer's minutes were yanked around like a yo-yo, Malone decides to entrust Jimmer with the backup point guard role! THIS KID IS NOT A POINT GUARD. He is doing a slightly better job of bringing the ball up the court this year, but he takes so long compared to IT, that it seems we have about 5-6 less seconds on the shot clock when the offense gets started. He initiates very little offense outside of his floaters, and just can't handle the ball well enough against NBA-caliber point guards. I will be a little sad when he is gone, mainly because the old management ruined any chance he had of finding a role on this squad. He is a combo/shooting guard, and is not versatile enough to be a point as well. With all that being said, he has often been able to score effectively, and has the second highest fg% of all Kings guards (at 39% yeesh).
I think Jimmer gets traded this season. It would be interesting to see if the Pelicans would bite and play him with Tyreke off the bench.
While many people think Jimmer never had a chance, Thornton is just the opposite. He had a starter's spot to lose, and lost it quickly. He had the backups spot to lose, and has mostly lost that to a combination of Rudy Gay and Travis Outlaw. If I'm a former 20 ppg scorer and get benched for Outlaw (someone who barely saw the floor last year on a team with the worst SF's in recent history), I'm pissed. I work my way back into the rotation if it's the last thing I do. I'm probably more disappointed that Thornton hasn't been able to do this than I am in his horrific start. He's a one-dimensional player who has lost his only dimension. I'm fine with him getting DNP's, make him earn it Coach.
Sadly, I don't see anyone other than maybe the Knicks being dumb enough to give up any assets.
5. Ray McCallum
Obviously, he looks like a rookie. However, I would still like to see him get more minutes. I'd like to see him get 5-10 minutes a game with Jimmer as his 2 guard. I'm not sure if he is ready, but it can't be much worse than Outlaw playing guard, and it is easy to switch back at any time. Getting Ray consistent playing time game in and game out will help him calm his jitters over the long run, and the long run is what this team should be concerned about.
I wouldn't mind signing a veteran point guard to back up Isaiah if McCallum doesn't look like he'll be ready this year. I never like the idea of altering a starter's rotation minutes (in this case Gay) to hide a weakness in the bench. I'd rather find a minimum contract veteran who can play a decent pg role.
Can he play PG? No idea. let's get him some real minutes and find out.
1. Rudy Gay
It's so strange watching him play. He does something incredible and my first thought is wait, are small forwards allowed to do that? I thought they're only allowed to miss 3's and get blown by on defense. It is so nice to have and athletic, long, talented small forward. The Kings weren't getting anyone better in FA next year anyways, and since I don't sign his check I don't mind having him here at all. We have started to see some tendency for him to put up shots he maybe should not take. A lot of these are falling right now, but last night there were at least 2 times he drove into 3 or 4 guys and had someone open on the perimeter, and didn't pass. I attribute it to being forced to be "the guy" in Toronto, while here he is the 2nd or 3rd option. There's no way he ends up shooting 38% like he did in Toronto, but I really hope he never even approaches that range.
Hope he re-signs. Can be our starter at the 3 for at least 1 more contract's time.
I really don't know what to think of Williams. He shows potential and a solid jump shot, but that's about it. He just disappears for stretches at a time. While all the Kings suck at defense, he seems to be playing fairly well, or maybe I just don't notice him when the opposition scores an easy layup. Being forced to cover Lebron last night was ridiculous, although he's probably the only one who can do anything there other than Rudy Gay. However, Williams doesn't seem capable of much else. He isn't a good passer, and doesn't have a good BBIQ. His 3 pointers have looked pretty good though; in fact I'm not sure any of his made 3's have hit any rim. Of course, we'll see how it plays out over the course of the season.
2nd man off the bench. Can play 2 positions and has shown an ability to score, two great qualities for good bench players.
3. Travis Outlaw
As soon as Outlaw's athleticism starts to fade, so will he. He looks like a very athletic player who never learned a basketball skill in his life. It's pretty frustrating to see so much wasted potential. He doesn't seem to have the necessary quickness to guard starting 3's in the league, and sometimes dominates the ball for stretches of play when brought off the bench. It's sad that his best role seems like a stretch 4, but that role is derived from process of elimination more than anything else.
10-12 guy with limited minutes. Doubt he is here any longer than his contract requires him to be.
What is there to say? He has been a monster. I need to make sure to see the Kings-Pacers games to see how he fares against Hibbert. He looked upset at the end of the Heat game, which was nice to see. I always find it troublesome when players are joking and laughing while getting blown out. We will never ever see that with Cousins, which is great. What's not so great is his defense. The whole team has been atrocious on that end, but Cousins just seems late and lackadaisical too often. The Heat last night had several open lanes to the hoop which needed to be filled by somebody. He is the leader of the team, and needs to show He seems to play within his emotions much better this season, even with his league leading 7 technicals.
Cousins is staying in Sactown. #1 option on offense for years to come, and hope his emotion and love for the game helps inspires others.
I've always liked Jason Thompson. But I get discouraged sometimes when his stats show up on tv, and I remember that he is truly a bench big. Not a great bench big, but a decent one. His true value lies in his ability to play 2 positions, but I don't think those qualifications get him far on this squad considering his contract. It seems like time to let him go if possible, especially with the emergence of Acy.
May end up being a backup big for this team, but I see him gone by the start of next season.
3. Quincy Acy
I love The Beard. He has all the real hustle that Thompson fakes. It's pretty incredible that he can hold his own at backup center. If he can develop a jumper, then he can be a good weapon off the bench for this team. Already like him more than Brockness.
Awesome bench player. He and D-Thrill could be a great and versatile forward combination coming off the bench.
4. Aaron Gray
When Cuz dominates, I don't think we will see much of Gray. Plus he is apparently competing with Acy now. But from everything I have seen and read, he is a consummate professional and great teammate. And those picks. He is probably worth keeping just so the Kings can practice against the PnR.
Maybe a backup center. Probably not.
5. Hamady N'Diaye
I really liked this signing. Low-risk, low-reward, adds depth with more potential than Cole Aldrich. I will be satisfied if he becomes a 10-12 rotational shot-blocker, although I really don't see it happening. Cool guy though, and fun to watch.
Maybe a backup center. Probably not.
I didn't go to much into defense because as of now, everyone is terrible. It has only been 5 games (I'll repeat: it's only been 5 games. I'll repeat: it's only been 5 games. I'll repeat: it's only been 5 games) that this team has had to play together. The defense will clean up, and while I still expect it to be bad, it should not be excruciatingly painfully bad like we have seen the past 2 weeks. SO let's give Coach Malone a break. I haven't seen a decent coach who cares about winning since Adelman. Defense aside (and I think it's fair to allow some time for that), I have been very impressed with him, both on the court and in interviews.
The Kings need to learn how to run a PnR, and they need to learn how to defend the PnR. It looked like the Heat ran it 90% of the time, and it usually worked, although the Kings looked maybe a tiny bit sharper than the last game. Teams will do this all day everyday, until the Kings can stop it. Against the Heat JT set one of the weakest screens I have ever seen. If Gray can teach the team how to set picks, he could play a huge role for someone who doesn't get on the court.
What do the Kings need? Easy: a shot-blocking big. A shooting guard that can play D would be great also, but everything starts in the middle. Teams should have to think twice about entering the paint, not excited that there's a 50% chance nobody guards the hoop. Lastly a backup point guard. If the defense improves and these needs are met to a certain degree, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Kings fighting for a playoff spot next year, even in the crazy Western Conference.
Constructive criticism is welcome, just no trolls please!