Another season, another 28 wins, another 7th overall pick. However, for the first time since Tyreke Evans' magical rookie year, the future looks bright. Here are my reviews for all Kings players this season.
DeMarcus Cousins, C:
Wow. What a season from Boogie. His defense, though still a work in progress, was a welcome improvement from previous years. His numbers went through the roof, and he recorded one of the five best PERs in the NBA, setting career bests in virtually all of his stats from points and rebounds to blocks and field goal percentage. He broke Chris Webber's record of 51 double-doubles in a season and to top it all off, he moved into top-10 in Kings history for scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. He missed 12 games, and the Kings were futile (0-12) in those games despite two other 20-PPG scorers in Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay, which further proved his tremendous value to the team. Most importantly of all, though, we saw a huge improvement in his attitude and hustle. He's got some work to do still, but it isn't a stretch to call him the best Center in the game. He is a truly special player in the making.
Isaiah Thomas, PG:
Isaiah Thomas had himself a breakout season and is a top candidate for Most Improved Player. After averaging 13.9 points and 4.0 assists in 2013, his per-game averages skyrocket to 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game, both far and away the best of his career. When Cousins was out or resting, Thomas often carried the team. He proved that he could be a pass-first guard as well, orchestrating the offense and finding open teammates regularly. If the Kings choose to re-sign him, they'll be set at Point Guard for years to come with Ray McCallum off the bench providing a terrific one-two punch in the backcourt.
(Acquired from Raptors) Rudy Gay, SF:
When the Kings traded for Rudy Gay, he was in the middle of the worst season of his career. But after 55 games with the Kings, he can safely call it the best of his career, averaging 20 points per game and setting a career high in PER. This move was a buying low, gambler's move by Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro, and it paid off.
Ben McLemore, SG:
This grade may be slightly skewed after last night's performance, but overall I feel that the 7th overall pick did a decent job. The Kings knew what they were getting with McLemore-a developmental prospect with huge upside. He was inconsistent in his rookie year, and his lack of experience was painfully apparent. But he also showed flashes of the athleticism and pure shooting stroke that made him a lottery pick. If he puts in some good work in the offseason, he may catch everyone by surprise in 2015.
Jason Thompson, PF:
Partly due to an inconsistent role, JT had a down year. His FT percentage sank all the way into the 50's, and he averaged 3.2 fouls per game in just 24 minutes per game. He was in and out of the starting lineup, and eventually lost his job to journeyman Reggie Evans.
Ray McCallum, PG:
Ray McCallum didn't even suit up for the Kings until mid-January, and was in and out of the D-League for much of the season. But when Isaiah Thomas was injured, Ray answered the call. Playing a huge number of minutes, he averaged 13.8 points, 7.3 assists, and less than two turnovers per game, keeping his pace for over a month until Thomas returned. Whether he's coming off the bench behind Thomas, or starting should the Kings let him walk, McCallum's ceiling is high.
(Acquired from Nets) Reggie Evans, PF:
Acquired in a salary dump to the Nets, Reggie Evans gave the Kings some pretty good minutes, both as a starter and off the bench. He was a rebound machine when he played, and he gelled well with the Kings' young core. He also showed us how a real role player does it: scrapping for loose balls, getting active on defense, and setting some pretty mean screens. He's a guy I'd like the Kings to keep around as a backup, as his veteran presence is much-needed.
Acquired by trading away the only defensive player on the team, Derrick Williams was wildly inconsistent with the Kings. Some games he looked like a superstar, hitting crazy shots and throwing down thunderous slams. More often than not, however, he looked timid and passive. Despite his outstanding ability to attack the basket, he often settled for jumpers or didn't shoot at all, deferring to players like Thomas and Cousins. He has a frustratingly huge ceiling if he were only more aggressive...
Travis Outlaw, SF:
Travis Outlaw was....well, Travis Outlaw. Not much to be said.:
Grade: Travis Outlaw
(Acquired from Raptors) Quincy Acy, PF:
Quincy Acy was a prospect who was highly thought of by many Raptors fans. Acquired as a throw-in from the Rudy Gay trade, he looked like a more athletic Reggie Evans: scrapping, battling, and being a badass, but also throwing down some monster facial dunks. He's another bench player who I'd like to see the Kings keep around.
Carl Landry, PF:
I'm one of the few people who think that the Carl Landry deal was a good one. However, he was injured for the great majority of the season and didn't play enough to be properly graded.
Hamady N'Daiye, C:
I didn't add any of the rest of the 10-day guys, but "Comedy Ninja" was so good I had to put him on here.
(Traded) Marcus Thornton, SG:
MT had his moments. Specifically, that 42 point game against the Pacers which I was in attendance for. But he never really got going and his inconsistency was the reason we had to throw McLemore into the fire so early. He's played pretty well for the Nets, so we probably haven't seen the last of Jerry Reynolds calling him "the Bayou Bomber".
(Traded) Patrick Patterson, PF:
Like MT, PPat never got going with his shot. Unlike MT, PPat didn't have a single redeeming game. He was frequently overpowered by other bigs and our "stretch 4" shot 29% from three while he was here. The only good moment he had all season was at media day when he held a hoop up so Ben could dunk on Travis. A class act off the court, but useless on it. Good riddance, I say.
(Traded) Greivis Vasquez, PG:
Vasquez was hampered all season by the lingering effects of an ankle injury sustained in the offseason. Though he often showed flashes, he wasn't the same player that he was back in 2013 with New Orleans. Still, he brought the Kings some good moments and some crazy highlights. I wish him the best in Toronto.
(Traded) John Salmons, SF:
John Salmons looked much the same as he did in 2013-lazy, inefficient, essentially useless. But for his services, I present him the "Tizzy Rules" award for lazy underachievement! Yay!
(Traded) Chuck Hayes, PF:
A M****f signing, Chuck Hayes was clearly overpaid. While his intangibles and leadership were welcome, he didn't make any real contribution on the court in his years here.
(Waived) Jimmer Fredette, SG:
Ah, the Jimmer. What could have been. You had your moments, though, buddy. That game against the Knicks? Classic! And you will be forever immortalized in this gif:
Grade: J for Jimmer