Another Sacramento Kings season is behind us, and we can begin the annual joys of the offseason. We've got a lot to look forward to. How far will the Kings fall in the draft lottery? Who might they draft? Which free agents might be signed? Which players might be traded? So much to look forward to, even if we know that each of those steps may bring new frustrations. But before we begin looking forward, let's take one last look back.
I've lamented many aspects of the past season at great length, and it is not my intention to do so again. Instead, I want to look at the positives we saw this season, because there were some great moments even amongst the chaos and confusion. These moments are in no particular order.
DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star
Boogie finally received the broader recognition that his play earned. Sure, Cousins was named to the squad as an injury replacement, but history has shown us that it won't matter when we look back. All-Star DeMarcus Cousins is a thing now, and seems likely to continue for years to come.
Rudy Gay re-signs with Sacramento
The Kings could be entering this offseason with Gay's future uncertain. Instead, Gay signed a three year extension early in the season, ensuring one of the few bright spots on the roster will be around for some time. The Rudy Gay trade was one of the biggest moments of the new regime, and looks even better now that he's staying in Sacramento.
Ben McLemore puts his rookie season behind him
Entering this season, many Kings fans expected Nik Stauskas to overtake McLemore as the starting shooting guard. Not only did McLemore hold onto the starting spot, he showed drastic improvement. His presence as a wing defender was fantastic, and although he's far from a perfect defender, he showed tremendous improvement from the lost player of last year. He also seemed to improve his dribble, allowing Ben to utilize his athleticism in transition opportunities.
Nik Stauskas had his own rookie struggles, but he came along slowly as the year progressed. And he landed one of the best nicknames in the NBA thanks to closed captioning. Stauskas seems to be embracing his moniker, which is good, because he will forever more be known as Sauce Castillo.
The return of Omri Casspi
Casspi was a disappointment in his first tenure as a King, but that was largely due to being miscast. Omri was supposed to fill the hole at Small Forward and be a starter, perhaps even a star. Since leaving Sacramento, Casspi found his niche as an energy guy off the bench. Omri returned to Sacramento embracing his role, and Kings fans are now able to accept and appreciate Omri for the player he is instead of the player we wanted him to be.
The Collison signing worked out
Although the debate will always rage regarding the player Collison replaced, it's safe to say that Collison's play exceed all expectations. Darren was a true bright spot before getting injured, and we can only hope he returns full strength for next year.
Hiring George Karl
No matter what the process was the led to Karl, and no matter how discombobulated the final 30 games were, the hiring of Karl was a bright moment for the Kings. Karl brings a Hall of Fame resume to Sacramento. He's a proven winner with many teams in many different situations. His coaching style matches what the organization seems to want from the product on the floor. Having a coach on the same page as the front office is a huge step towards team success. We can't really blame Karl for the situation he was thrown into (player attitudes, lost season, injuries), so it's difficult to judge Karl as coach of the Kings, but we have a key piece for the future.
These are the moments that stood out to me. And despite the frustrations of the past year, I'm always grateful to share Kings basketball with this community. So now I turn it over to you. What were your highlights? What will you remember as the best parts of the 2014-15 Kings season?