This is the official Sactown Royalty preview of the 2015-16 Sacramento Kings season, part of the SB Nation NBA preview series. We take a look at what the Kings did this summer, and what we hope we can look forward to as the season goes on.
Team Name: Sacramento Kings
Last Year's Record: 29-53
Key Losses: Pete D'Alessandro, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, Ray McCallum, Reggie Evans, Andre Miller, Ryan Hollins, Derrick Williams
Key Additions: Rajon Rondo, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, James Anderson, Quincy Acy, Caron Butler, Seth Curry, Duje Dukan
1. What Significant Moves were made in the offseason?
Where do we begin? This was one of the more transformative summers for the Kings in a long time and it started right in the front office with new Kings President of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac consolidating his power. GM Pete D'Alessandro left soon after to Denver after it became clear that his voice was no longer being heard, and Vlade began the tough task of reshaping this roster.
The first choice Divac had in front of him was the Draft, in which the Kings held the 6th overall pick. The three names most attached to the Kings at that slot were Mario Hezonja (taken 5th by Orlando), Emmanuel Mudiay (taken 7th by Denver) and the man who the Kings ended up picking, Willie Cauley-Stein. In Cauley-Stein the Kings hope they have found a long-term fit next to DeMarcus Cousins in the frontcourt, someone that can complement Cousins skillset on both ends of the floor.
The next big move the Kings made was deciding to clear up a bunch of cap space by trading Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas and future draft considerations to Philadelphia for a couple of second rounders. That was a bold, risky move but it gave the Kings a lot of space to work with. Vlade used that space to sign some big needs for the Kings; He brought in a consistent shooter in Marco Belinelli, a good defensive big man in Kosta Koufos, and a playmaking point guard in Rajon Rondo. He kept busy throughout the rest of the summer as well, adding vets like Caron Butler while still looking out for the future with signings of young guys like Seth Curry and Duje Dukan.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
While it's a little hard to identify this team's strengths due to how many new guys are actually on this team, I think there are a few clear ones.
For one, the Kings have DeMarcus Cousins, possibly the best interior presence in the NBA right now. The Kings should have a very good inside presence, and this should also cause them to be one of the league leaders in Free Throw Attempts. Last year they were first in both makes and attempts, and that was in large part due to Cousins getting so many teams in foul trouble.
I also think this team has good size and rebounders at all positions and should be good on the glass. Rajon Rondo has always been one of the better rebounding Point Guards and Kosta Koufos adds another solid big man for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins should be among the league leaders in this category once again.
Depth should be a strength for the Kings as well thanks to this year's free agent signings. Instead of having a bunch of unproven players coming off the bench, the Kings now have veterans at every position and can go three deep on some positions. George Karl has mentioned that there's almost too many options right now and some guys who probably deserve to play will probably get squeezed out because there won't be enough minutes to go around.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
I think shooting is still a major weakness for this team although they did a good job of adding guys like Belinelli, Anderson, Curry and Dukan who can help the team, but of those guys only Belinelli and Anderson seem like they have a shot at playing major minutes. Last year the Kings were 28th in attempts and makes. I think that number will go up, but I still think the Kings will have some shooting issues, especially in the starting lineup with Rajon Rondo.
But perhaps an even bigger weakness for this team is simply chemistry. There are so many new guys on this team that it might take a little while for them to gel. Fortunately this is a weakness that can became a strength given time and stability.
4. What are the goal's for this team?
This is a team that is trying to make the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. That may seem like a lofty goal for a team that hasn't hit 30 wins in 7 seasons, but it seems doable given the talent increase this summer. I wouldn't say that this season would be a failure if the Kings don't make the playoffs, but it probably is if they aren't even in contention down the stretch of the season. This is a team that has a mandate to win now, so there's a lot of pressure to do well this year.
5. Will it all blow up?
That's the question on seemingly everyone's mind after last year's debacle. Nobody believes in the Kings right now and to be fair, the Kings haven't given them any reason to. This summer saw George Karl feuding with DeMarcus Cousins (a situation that seems to have been resolved according to the two of them), the addition of a Point Guard who publicly feuded with his head coach, and a big gamble by Divac that everything is going to work out for the best. There's a lot of optimism around this team from within, but it will take actual on-court results before the national narrative begins to change.
For more on the Kings, check out our 30Q series, where we answered 30 questions about the Kings over the month of September.