Preseason is over and there's still a couple of weeks to go before basketball is finally back in session, so let's take a look at what we learned over those six preseason games featuring a new look Sacramento Kings squad.
1. DeMarcus Cousins will be hanging out on the perimeter more often
While DeMarcus Cousins is one of the better post weapons in the NBA, George Karl wants to spread the floor and utilize more dribble-drive opportunities. That means less time on the low block for Big Cuz and much more time shooting from outside. This didn't work out so great in the preseason, as Cousins made just one three in 12 attempts and shot just 39.1% from the field overall.
2. Rajon Rondo is not done being a valuable player
Rajon Rondo didn't exactly set the world on fire this preseason but he did showcase why the Kings wanted to bring him in. He's an excellent floor general and a vocal leader on both ends of the court. He seems to have locked down the starting Point Guard slot and should have plenty of opportunities to prove his worth to the NBA.
3. Willie Cauley-Stein is more ready to play than we thought
The rookie from Kentucky was projected to be a bit of a project, but that's mostly due to his unrefined offensive game. Defensively he's as polished as any prospect the NBA has seen in a long time. George Karl is notorious for not liking to play young players and even he came away impressed, saying that Cauley-Stein might end up in the starting lineup. This is a good sign for Willie's future and it's a great sign for the Kings that he can contribute now.
4. This team has some serious depth
For the first time in what feels like years, the Kings have actual options to go to on the bench. Darren Collison, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Omri Casspi and even James Anderson all had moments in the preseason that showed they can be valuable rotation players. A guy like Caron Butler is an 11th man on this team. This newfound depth should prove invaluable to the Kings this season, who saw so many leads disappear or deficits grow when their bench came in last year.
5. Collison and Belinelli provide a serious scoring punch off the bench
Speaking of the bench, two of Sacramento's leading scorers this preseason primarily played off the bench. Darren Collison looked better than ever after coming back from injury that cost him half of last season, averaging 15.3 points on 53.7% from the field and 43.8% from three to go with 5.5 assists a game. Collison was good as a starter last year and he might prove to be great off the bench. Numbers like that during the regular season would put him in serious contention for 6th Man of the Year if the Kings are doing well. Belinelli also proved his worth during preseason, averaging 15.7 points a game on 45.2% from the field and 31.6% from three. Between the two of them, the Kings have some go-to options for when they need an offensive spark.
6. Welcome to Block City
The Sacramento Kings have been one of the worst teams defending the rim for a long time now. DeMarcus Cousins made some nice strides on defense last year but he didn't have much help. This year the Kings have added some heavy hitters in Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein. Between the three of those guys, the Kings have some serious length and defensive smarts around the basket, and that's not even including the potential addition of Eric Moreland, who showcased his own defensive prowess against the Lakers.
7. Ben McLemore needs to be more aggressive
Ben didn't have a great preseason although he looked better as it wore on. As usual, Ben looks his best when he plays aggressively and confidently. It's when he becomes passive or hesitant that he gets into trouble. We need to see more from Ben early on in the season or he's going to start losing minutes now that the Kings have actual options to go to off the bench if Ben is struggling.
8. Eric Moreland should make the team
Tony detailed this better than I could, but simply put, Eric Moreland showed enough in his short amount of playing time that he deserves to make the roster.
9. Seth Curry probably won't play much
Curry didn't play all that much this preseason but he had a couple of fun moments, particularly in the home game against the Portland Trail Blazers. However, Karl seemed hesitant to use him for any long stretches, and we probably won't see him used much barring injury as Karl likes to keep a shorter rotation. That could change if he has a breakout game or two.
10. This should be a fun season
This is a much better Kings team than we're used to seeing. The playoffs may or may not be out of reach, but it's already fun to think that it's not so unrealistic anymore. I can't wait for October 28th to come and for this team to show the rest of the NBA what they can do.