Last season I took a crack at ranking each player on the Kings roster. It was a fun exercise, but we quickly scrapped the post when the relocation saga ramped up in January. But now the Kings have stayed. Once more, the Kings have stayed. So it seems like as good a time as any to resurrect the rankings. RanKings? Too punny?
A quick reminder: these are arbitrary rankings based on my impressions of the roster. I'll update the rankings each week. Be sure to chime in with your comments on how wrong I am.
1. DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus came out of the gate playing like a franchise players. He took a step back in the Warriors game, and a step even further back against the Hawks, but nobody said progress was linear. There will be setbacks. I'm hopeful that DeMarcus will continue the new level of professionalism and effort that he showed in the first two games, but I'm staying cautiously optimistic for now.
2. Isaiah Thomas
Coming off the bench has done nothing to discourage IT. He's a huge spark plug for this team, and has carried the offense for multiple stretches. While I advocated for Isaiah to remain the starter, he does seem to pair well with a McRookie to be named shortly. I don't really care at this point if Isaiah is starting or coming off the bench. He's getting consistent, significant minutes. He's not being jerked around. And he's performing well on the court. That's what matters. Cousins and Isaiah are one and two right now, and it's not even close.
3. Ben McLemore
Ben McLemore is still raw, and has shown definite flashes of being a rookie. But he has just been so much fun to watch. I actually had McLemore ranked fourth before the Hawks game. I just continue to be so impressed by him. It's great that Michael Malone is bringing McLemore along slowly. I don't think he should be forced into the starting line-up just yet. He's struggled early from behind the arc, but his shot is so smooth that I'm not worried. I've been thrilled with what I've seen. He's exciting, and I'm really looking forward to watching this kid bloom this season.
4. Greivis Vasquez
Greivis has been a disappointment to some, but I've been very pleased with the General's progress. He's coming into a new system, with new teammates, and is doing so while still getting fully recovered from his ankle injury. Vasquez has been a big part of the Kings increased ball movement, and I've been pretty happy so far. I want to see Vasquez continue to improve, but I love seeing Isaiah and Vasquez consistently getting big minutes. I'll also admit that Vasquez pairs better with IT than I ever expected.
5. Jason Thompson
JT has struggled a bit since moving to the bench, but has still be a positive contributor. Bonus points for his huge put-back dunk against the Nuggets. But JT could start to slide down these rankings if he doesn't return to his previous consistency.
6. Marcus Thornton
Marcus has struggled this year, and I don't know why. He's averaging about 10 points per game, on about 9 shots per game. He's struggled from deep, shooting 35% from three (it was 30.8% before the Hawks game). He's not struggling as much as McLemore has in a few games, which is why I think the talk of McLemore starting is premature, but I also hold Thornton to a higher standard, which is why he's lowing in these rankings. We're still dealing with very small sample sizes, but I want to see Thornton snap out of this funk. Last year the excuse was that he was upset at coming off the bench after leading the team in scoring the previous season. So what's the excuse this year?
7. Chuck Hayes
I know I don't have a lot of company in the Chuck Hayes fan club, but I like how Chuck has contributed in his limited minutes. He comes in, plays hard, takes smart shots, and doesn't hurt the team. Sadly, that's enough to land 7th right now.
8. Patrick Patterson
I'm probably lower on Patterson than most, but I'm quickly growing frustrated with Patterson as an alleged stretch four. Yes, he can hit the occasional shot from further out, but he's been taking a lot this season. He's shooting 16.7% from three, but is taking 3 attempts per game from beyond the arc. Whatever advantage he's created with floor spacing is being negated by poor shot selection.
9. Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer would likely be higher, but he's become the odd man out in the rotation. A lot of folks saw the Kings opt not to pick up Jimmer's option and assumed the Kings would be trading him any day now. While that's certainly possible, I'm curious to see what happens. Like a lot of folks, I felt Jimmer outplayed McLemore and Thornton in the preseason. Obviously McLemore is locked in long term, but I wonder if Thornton might be moved before Jimmer. Either way, tough to put Jimmer much higher until he gets some burn.
10. Travis Outlaw
Outlaw has been the team's best small forward this season. Sadly that still lands him 10th in these rankings. Seriously, this team desperately needs a solution at small forward.
11. John Salmons
John, not Johnny. You gotta earn being called Johnny. Salmons has been awful, even by the very low standards we generally hold him to. He had an alleged bounce back game against the Hawks, but still scored just 13 points on 11 shots. He's still shooting 30% from the floor this season. And yet he's fourth on the team in minutes played this year. Let's move on.
12. Luc Mbah a Moute
I'd really like the Fresh Prince to get healthy so we can see what we might have in him. Hopefully we don't have a perpetually-injured player. If he sees playing time, he immediately leaps over Outlaw and Salmons.
13. Hamady N'Diaye
By all accounts he a great guy. He's a great story. He's grabbed 12 rebounds in three minutes of play. Hmmm, maybe he should be above our small forwards.
14. Ray McCallum
Hasn't dressed yet. I won't be surprised if it's a long time before we see McCallum in a Kings uniform, there's just no room in the rotation. It's no knock on him or his abilities. I imagine we'll see him spend a fair amount of time in Reno this year getting some development time with the Bighorns.
15. Carl Landry
Miss you Top Hat, get well soon.