End of Season Roundtable Discussion

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Sactown Royalty crew takes a look at the season that was.

With the season over, I decided to ask my fellow contributors for their favorite plays, moments, and games from this season. From an outsider's perspective, this season doesn't seem like it was anything to be proud of, but it was different for us, free from relocation drama and reveling in the joy of being able to simply enjoy basketball again.

***

Best moment of the season (on-court edition)

  • The first game of the season, having Vivek come onto the court and give his "This is your team and I'm here to tell you, they're here to stay" line. There were definitely some ninjas chopping onions nearby my seats when that happened. - Akis
  • I was unable to attend or watch the first game due to finishing up my time at Culinary school that first week of the season, so I have to say literally the day I moved back to Sacramento just getting to go to the game vs. Portland. There was no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I was going to a Kings game to watch some basketball. No drama outside of it. Just, basketball. - Bradley
  • Well this is a toss up. Akis took the season opener (which was incredible!) so I'm going to so with the Nov. 15th game against Detroit. It was the first StR night of the season, my birthday, and Here We Roar Night! ONE THOUSAND StR readers flooded into the arena (and onto the court for two MASSIVE post game photos), and a sellout crowd broke the Guinness World Record for indoor crowd noise... TWICE. It was an incredibly fun night, and the best part was I predicted the whole thing two months before it happened. *MJ Shrug* - Kevin
  • Akis took the season opener, but he is a Greek overlord so he can do such things. I am not going to single out one individual moment because I think the whole season was its own moment; a moment in time Kings fans and Sacramentans alike will never forget, for obvious reasons. Mayor Kevin Johnson and Vivek Ranadive laid the hammer down and we kept the purple and black. There is such renewed hope from the fan base - it is something that is a testament to this great city. - Blake
  • Vivek on opening night was #1 for me, but I also got chills at "Here We Roar." I closed my eyes during one of the sound record attempts and was transported back to 1996 and our first playoff game in ten years...against Seattle, no less. My sleeper pick would be the overtime win against the Heat. In the grander scope of things it meant little, but for one night the best team in the NBA wore black and purple. - section214
  • There were so many fun games this year, even a lot of the losses. Since opening night and Here We Roar are covered, I'll choose March 18th. Overtime win over the Wizards, and Isaiah Thomas' first career triple-double. A fun game, with a fun win over a playoff team. It was also the game Drew Gooden lit us up, which appeals to the part of me that enjoys random, weird crap in NBA games. - Greg
  • It's been mentioned, but Here We Roar was the most memorable for me. As someone who never got to attend a Playoff game in the golden years, feeling the arena shake with 120+ decibels of pure Kings fandom was unlike anything I'd experienced, even at our loud old barn. - Bryant
  • All of the above nominees are well worth the honor. Beating the Heat at home was incredible, too. Think about how many casual NBA/sports fans might have been in that building as season ticket holders sold the most valuable ticket in town. And think about them watching DeMarcus Cousins destroy the champs in overtime. - Ziller
  • So many great moments mentioned already. I don't remember feeling a greater sense of pride as a fan than I did on opening night, however the most rewarding night of the year had to have been at the season finale. The fans were into the game the entire night, but as the Kings fumbled it away at the end the fans began to file out as if it were just another game, no longer mindful of that familiar relocation paranoia. It was liberating to have a season end without tears (unless you were REALLY invested in the Kings beating the Suns that night), without exiting the concourse wondering if it was going to be the last time you left a Kings game. Just another game. - Adam

Best moment of the season (off-court edition)

  • STOP stopped. When the Judge officially ruled that STOP's petitions were invalid, I let out a huge sigh of relief. With that out of the way, the way to a new arena and a long-term future for the Kings in Sacramento became much more certain. - Akis
  • Shaq. Talk about making a splash. As someone who was a huge Shaq fan In Orlando, Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston, it was great to see us get a big name like Shaq in with the ownership group. Sure, we have our bad history, (Don't worry, as much as I liked all other versions of Shaq, I despised Lakers Shaq. My AIM name back in the day was shaqisfat88. I was too clever for my own good). It is great to have a voice for our franchise that can be heard, and while he didn't run it down peoples' throats, Shaq was never afraid to shout out our team or our players. Not to mention the positive impact on DeMarcus Cousins. - Bradley
  • Has to be the "Long Live the Kings Rally" at Cesar Chavez Park on May 23rd right?! What an amazing night. It was the first time I'd heard Vivek use the phrase "Here We Stay," and it might seem silly, but I was overcome with a sudden sense of pride/happiness/relief. We weren't a bad word anymore. Kings FANS weren't the enemy any longer. Finally we had an owner who "got it." I'll never forget that night. (I'm gonna toss a runner up vote to the BOG meeting in Dallas. 1. Because the Kings were STAYING and 2. Because I snapped a picture of George Maloof getting chased into a bellhop closet.) - Kevin
  • Aside from the stellar moments already mentioned, I would have to say the love that Kings fans and the organization showed for Sign Lady (Barbara Rust) after it was announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I think most Kings fans, and especially Barbara, consider each other to be family and it was proven. Sign Lady and her husband Niko are great people and I know they really appreciated the support they have received. Oh, and then she was inducted into the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame on top of that! Cheers, Barbara. #LoveForSignLady - Blake
  • I'm going to riff a little off of Blake's comments regarding Sign Lady. The fact that the Kings fan base could rally in such a way to get her deservedly honored in the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame speaks volumes about the crazies that continue to support this team, year after year after year. After everything that the fan base had accomplished over the past several years, it should have come as no surprise. But it was still refreshing to see. Admittedly, I have a little bias here, as Barbara (Sign Lady) and Niko (Mr. Sign Lady) are two of the most genuine people that you would ever want to meet. Not an ounce of self-promotion in either one of them, which makes the story even more amazing. - section214
  • Again, so many fun moments to choose from. For me, personally, it was getting to talk to Vivek on the podcast. Not just because it was a personal thrill, but because it was so indicative of the change we've seen with this franchise. This organization cares about us fans as much as we care about the team. It's a delight. - Greg
  • I was stuck at work during the "Long Live the Kings Rally", but watching it live online was STILL the most powerful moment for me. Seeing the fans all together again, fully confident for the first time in forever, with Vivek being properly introduced to the fandom, it was the moment where it all clicked for me, that this was really happening, and that they were, in fact, "Here to Stay". - Bryant
  • David Stern shook my hand and cracked a total inside joke that I still can't believe he made. Even better: I got to have lunch with Barbara and Niko Rust. Helluva day. - Ziller
  • Definitely the love and support that the fan base and the organization showed for Sign Lady, Barbara Rust, after her cancer diagnosis. At the end of the day the Kings fan base is a community of people, and that outpouring was more indicative of us than any of basketball's trivialities. - Adam

Biggest Surprise

  • Shaqramento. I never thought I'd see the day where Shaq was not only openly welcomed by Kings fans, but actually an official part of the organization as a minority owner. I don't think I'll ever get over how weird it is to see him in Kings gear. - Akis
  • Ray McCallum. I thought he could be a good rookie, but the level of play he displayed during this last month of the season has exceeded any and all expectations I had for this kid. Not only is he fun to watch, but he has a crazy good Assist/Turnover ratio on most nights, and seems to be a very good decision maker who just needs a little bit of experience to work out his kinks. - Bradley
  • MOVES MOVES MOVES!! Pete D'Alessandro gets my vote for biggest surprise. I had a feeling we'd try to make a splash but our first year GM came out SWINGING! He started with a three team sign and trade for Greivis Vasquez. Snagged Carl Landry and Luc Mbah a Moute. Signed DeMarcus Cousins to a multi year extension. Flipped Luc for Derrick Williams. Traded Greivis, John Salmons, and Patrick Patterson for Quincy Acy, Aaron Gray, and Rudy Gay. Turned Marcus Thornton's contract into Reggie Evans and Jason Terry. And that was all before he even unpacked his suitcase! I'm unbelievably excited to see what he does this offseason. - Kevin
  • The Tom Ziller trade. - Blake
  • DeMarcus Cousins. I thought that Cousins would be incrementally better, but nothing like this. Cousins was (deservedly) not considered as a top forty player at the beginning of the season, and slotting him near Greg Monroe on the talent chart would have been more than appropriate. I think that Cousins has easily moved himself into the top twenty five, and perhaps a bit higher. The Cousins or Monroe conversation is now a Cousins or Anthony Davis conversation. He still has a long ways to go to become the player that the organization is pinning their future on, but he greatly elevated his game this year, well beyond my expectations. - section214
  • Rudy Gay's play in Sacramento. I liked the trade when it happened, but even the most optimistic of us didn't expect anything like the performance Rudy has delivered. It's been a joy having him here. - Greg
  • I'm copying Greg's, I also think it was Rudy Gay. I'd never much of a Rudy Gay fan, and when the news first broke (before the pieces were leaked), I actually dreaded the deal. Once it became clear that the Kings weren't giving up Isaiah/McLemore/picks for Gay, I grew more comfortable with the trade, but it wasn't until Gay actually played that I came to like the deal. His efficiency was easily the most surprising development of the season for me, and in the span of five months I went a full skeptic to a huge fan. We can only hope he sticks around, but if he doesn't, we should thank him for reminding us that good small forwards exist. - Bryant
  • DeMarcus Cousins' massive defensive improvement. I'm a believer now. 100 percent. - Ziller
  • How broad the Kings outreach has been on an organizational level. I don't know whether to call this a surprise or something that we all as recently liberated Maloof-Petrie prisoners are wholly unfamiliar with, but it's been impressive the extent that management will go to from both a business and basketball standpoint to make their mark. - Adam

Biggest Disappointment

  • Carl Landry was supposed to be Sacramento's stud sixth man, but instead he was wracked by injuries and was never able to return to form in the few games he did play. Even more disappointing is the fact that the Kings signed him to a relatively long-term deal, one that could impact re-signing guys like Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay. - Akis
  • I am going to go a little outside the box on this one and say not being able to see Ben McLemore shine in a real Dunk Contest. I'm never one to call a player a disappointment in their rookie year, and we know he had his ups and downs, but I was legitimately excited to see him play in the Dunk Contest, I maintain he could have been champ in a traditional format, or at least played in the finals. While many people loathed the gimmick of the one real dunk he was able to show, it really was a good dunk when you strip away the cheese. I would have loved to see him try the 720, and a couple more athletic feats. - Bradley
  • Two words: Roger Mason... - Kevin
  • Just kidding, the biggest disappointment has to be DeMarcus Cousins not making the All Star team this year. I don't need to tell you guys why this is B.S. There were other deserving snubs... but I don't care about any of those nerds. Stop screwing with me NBA!! - Kevin
  • I am going to go with Greivis Vasquez. That may not be entirely fair because we didn't get to see him at full health I believe, but his approach to the game and his attitude about coming to Sacramento was refreshing. The "pass-first point guard" concept that came with him just never propelled the offense and the 1-2 punch of Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas wasn't as potent as I had thought it would be. Now, he wasn't a complete disappointment - the Kings did get Rudy Gay when they dealt him to the Toronto Raptors, and it also allowed Isaiah Thomas to continue his rise (and Ray McCallum for that matter). - Blake
  • The amount of time that it took for us to see even a glimpse of defensive effort and focus. I understand why - with the massive roster turnover throughout the season, it was challenging for the Kings to ever gel defensively. But when Michael Malone was hired, he spoke about establishing a defensive presence. I was hoping for the improvement that was seen in Golden State. At the very least, I would have liked to have seen some of the positive steps taken by Charlotte this year. The Kings began playing better defensively down the stretch, and hopefully they can build off of that next year. - section214
  • Injuries. We've discussed at length how good the Kings are when the big three all play at least 30 minutes in a game, but we saw far too little of it. Isaiah missed extended time with his quad injury, DeMarcus missed time with his ankle, Rudy has missed time with various aches. It would have been fun to have had a few more games where all three were full strength. - Greg
  • Derrick Williams. After the trade, Derrick's first game was against the Clippers where he threw down those back-to-back alley-oops and we thought we'd be seeing those dunks nightly. I had high hopes that he'd become a capable starter, but that optimism has faded fast. I think some of the blame goes to the Coaching staff, and I think they need to really work this season on figuring out his role, but Derrick has a ton of developing to do. - Bryant
  • Like 214, I'm pretty flummoxed by the lack of defensive growth on the roster, especially given Boogie's better efforts. Other teams with rookie head coaches were able to improve a ton on that end, but not the Kings. Which tells me it's a personnel issue. - Ziller
  • At the beginning of the season it was probably the play of Marcus Thornton. I really thought that after the Tyreke Evans trade and the establishment of his only competition being rookie Ben McLemore we were going to be treated to season closer to his 2011-2012 campaign. But he never got into a rhythm shooting the ball and he quickly became expendable. But ultimately Cousins' not making the All-Star team is probably as contributory to him not being broadly mentioned as one of the games' best centers as his stigma is. - Adam

Best game of the season

  • There were some great games this season, including the fabulous win against the Heat, but for me the best game of the season was the 117-111 win over the Wizards that saw the Kings come down from a fourth quarter deficit to send it to overtime and the late explosions from DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay that saved the day. - Akis
  • I gotta go with that Mavericks game when we were undermanned due to the Rudy Gay trade. It was just a very exciting game versus a great team, and we all showed up. DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Williams were hot all night, and never let up. Plus, it had that awesome intro to the three new Kings. It was truly an exciting game. - Bradley
  • Going with Akis here. I like to think of the March 18th game against the Wiz as the night the "Big 3" was born. Kings came from behind to force OT and won 117-111. DeMarcus (24pts/14rebs) and Rudy (24pts/6rebs/3stls) dominated and The Pizza Guy delivered his first career triple double (24pts/11rebs/10asts). If this is a glimpse of what we can expect to see going forward, I want to see more. - Kevin
  • The Pacers game at home on Jan. 24. The Kings were without the services of DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay and still took the Pacers (who were a much better team than they are today, and at full strength) to overtime. (That "foul" on Paul George that led to the four-point play is still troubling.) The Kings may have lost 116-111, but the fight the team displayed had that crowd rocking man. It also was nice to see Marcus Thornton have a breakout game, finally (remember he scored 42 points???). Isaiah Thomas was a beast also, scoring 38 points. - Blake
  • As noted above, I'm going with the 12/27 Heat game. The big three of the Kings scored 75 points, grabbed 27 rebounds and dished out 17 assists. It was a harbinger of things to come when Cousins, Gay and Thomas all logged at least 30 minutes each. - section214
  • It's the opener for me. While the Here We Roar night was the most powerful, it ended in a loss. The opener was a game COULD NOT end in a loss. There was just no way the basketball gods could allow the Kings to lose. DeMarcus Cousins dunking on JJ Hickson (my vote for underappreciated play of the year) was the cherry on the top. - Bryant
  • I may have misunderstood the earlier question where I cited the Wizards game. Anyway, since I covered that one already, I'll add a recent game. Game 81, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was disappointing that DeMarcus picked up his 16th tech, but the team played as a team. Isaiah returned from injury. DeMarcus didn't let a tech take him out of his rhythm, and the Kings won a close game against a better team. - Greg
  • The opener. What a bizarre, enthralling experience. - Ziller
  • The season opener was probably the funnest game to be at but I'm hard pressed to find a game I enjoyed more than the January 24th game against the Indiana Pacers. Taking the Pacers, who were still playing kick-ass back then, the distance was almost as impressive as Marcus Thornton's breakout game and the Paul George 4-point play which also doubled as probably the coolest way to lose. - Adam

Favorite in-game play of the season

  • Derrick Williams posterizing Blake Griffin, getting it waved off due to a foul before the dunk, then the Kings running the exact same play over again and him dunking it again. One of the best in-game moments I've seen in person. - Akis
  • As a shameless Jimmer fan from his time here, his game at the Garden when he was on fire, and decided to pull up for that 30 footer and hit it with ease. I knew that was his coming out party, and he was going to take no prisoners from here on out. He was bought out a week later. - Bradley
  • The Kings haven't been world-beaters but they HAVE been a lot more fun to watch. There really have been A LOT of awesome highlights this year. That being said, I'm going to have to go with Derrick Williams' NASTY 2 handed windmill against the Magic. Dunk you very much Derrick. - Kevin
  • The DeMarcus Cousins dunk over Dirk Nowitzki…oh, the blood. - Blake
  • I can't recall the game (or even the opponent), but Cousins blocked a shot and then Jason Thompson blocked the putback attempt, with Rudy Gay (I think) winding up with the ball and triggering a fast break that resulted in a Kings bucket. Team interior defense, huzzah!!! - section214
  • Cousins going beastmode against the Nuggets. I was at the game and had a great view of this one. I loved it. - Greg
  • Akis mentioned it; the back-to-back posterizations of Blake Griffin by Derrick Williams. On the flip side, it raised our hopes that we'd be seeing more of such play, but it was amazing while it lasted. A close second was Ben McLemore's game-tying, overtime-forcing three pointer in Utah that eventually led to a win. - Bryant
  • Isaiah's no-look pass Jason Thompson in transition in the second game of the season against the Los Angeles Clippers after a evasive spin in traffic. I never jumped out of my seat quicker. - Adam

Player of the Year

  • It has to be DeMarcus Cousins. He more than earned his big extension with his play this year, and while he was snubbed off the All-Star team, he put together an All-Star performance this season. - Akis
  • This is obvious. It has to go to the guy who has gone the whole year leading this team, though he did not always get to stay on as long as he liked. A guy who has been seen as a top talent from the time he first stepped on the court for us. A guy who real fans know is the top player at his position. A man who's very name is known to rattle the earth and shake the heavens. Travis Outlaw. DeMarcus Cousins was also alright. - Bradley
  • Cousins is the easy answer here, but I'll mix it up and say Rudy Gay. The rest of the NBA had all but written Rudy off when Pete picked him up, but he's been "reborn" playing next to DMC. If he doesn't opt out of his contract the Kings will be on the hook for $19,000,000 next season. And while I know that seems pretty daunting, after 7 or 8 seasons of basketball without a small forward I can't really be convinced that $19,000,000 isn't what one of those guys costs. I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed this but basketball is WAY more fun when you have a small forward. Who knew? #RudyStay - Kevin
  • DeMarcus Cousins is the player of the year, and rightfully so - his numbers were the highest of his career in each of the following stat categories: points (22.7), rebounds (11.7), assists (2.9), blocks (1.3) and field goal percentage (49 percent). But for the sake of argument, I am going to say Isaiah Thomas is just as deserving because his improvements this season have been impressive. He had career numbers in points (20.6), assists (6.3), rebounds (3.0), steals (1.3) and field goal percentage (45 percent). The Pizza Guy had to deal with another position threat this season also, like he has every season, with Greivis Vasquez. He overcame it and proved he is a force to be reckoned with. -Blake
  • DeMarcus Cousins, edging out Rudy Gay for time served. Except for Cousins' pout-fest after being spurned for the All Star game, he played at a very high level throughout the season. As I noted earlier, there is still a long way to go for Big Cuz. But he had a great season. (And 1 - One could certainly argue Gay for player of the year. He is a pro's pro, and that influence cannot be overstated. A team needs professional basketball players to be successful, and Rudy Gay is, more than anyone else currently wearing a Kings uniform, a professional basketball player. His value to this team goes beyond the box score.) - section214
  • It's a tough call between Rudy and DeMarcus, but I'm giving it to Rudy. He's simply been amazing since he arrived in Sacramento. His arrival marked a major turning point in the season. - Greg
  • DeMarcus. His development in every area on the floor has exceeded my most optimistic expectations. The fact that he is only 23 is the scariest part. - Bryant
  • DeMarcus Cousins has been one of the best players in the NBA. Isaiah was clearly awesome, too, but man. Boogie. - Ziller
  • It has to be DeMarcus Cousins if only that he delivered on not only the monetary investment of the management but also the emotional investment of the fans. Through those highly inefficient, highly promising years under Westphal and Smart there was always that fleeting hope that if he could just play under an organized system with complimentary offensive sets he would thrive. Well, when the infrastructure finally became complimentary to his skills, he delivered in a big way. - Adam
***

How about you guys, what were some of your favorite moments from this season? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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