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Ranking the Sacramento Kings offseason needs

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings need a lot of help.  This likely isn't a revelation to you or anyone who realizes that a 29 win season, the team's best in five years, is hardly something to celebrate.

This offseason in particular is set up to be a very important one for the Kings.  They have a decent amount of cap space, although not enough to sign the biggest names (which would have been unlikely even if the Kings did have that type of space).  The Kings will be playing their last season at the old arena before moving into their new downtown arena in the fall of 2016, and management wants this team to be good and competitive by then.  So do the fans.  To get there, the Kings will need to figure out how to fix the following problems:

1. Shooting

The Kings have been a poor shooting team for a couple of years now, ranking 28th in three pointers made and attempted this past season.  Given that the team has a dominant inside presence in DeMarcus Cousins, it makes sense to add as much spacing as possible.  Cousins is a good and willing passer, and surrounding him with guys who can consistently knock down three pointers will benefit both Cousins and his teammates.  The Kings are aware of this and it's largely why they spent a lottery pick on Nik Stauskas last year, a player that theoretically should fit perfectly next to Cousins.  Stauskas had a rough start to his rookie season but he did end up playing much better under George Karl, knocking down over 40% of his three pointers during that 30 game stretch.  Ben McLemore also saw an improvement to his shooting, although his inconsistency meant the Kings couldn't exactly rely on him.  The Kings can use more shooting (particularly consistent shooting) at every position.

2. Meaningful Depth

For the first half of last season, Sacramento boasted one of the best starting lineups in the entire NBA in terms of net rating (Points Per 100 Possessions - Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions).  It was when they went to their bench that they dropped off drastically.  A team can't play its starting lineup 48 minutes a night (as much as Tom Thibodeau might wish it), and you need good bench players that can come in and give you solid, productive minutes.  The only player that really excelled off of Sacramento's bench last season was Omri Casspi, and he ended up doing his best work as a starter under George Karl.

3. Defense

Sacramento was actually shaping up to be a, if not good, at least above average defensive team at the start of last season.  Yet as the season wore on, Sacramento's defensive intensity lessened and the focus switched to the offense.  In fact, Michael Malone's focus on defense at the expense of a smooth, crisp offense is what got him canned. I know, the gall of that guy!  The Kings ended the season even worse on defense than they were last season, ranking among the bottom four teams in the league.  There were some promising signs that this team could be good defensively.  Cousins in particular showed a lot of growth on that end.  Darren Collison and Jason Thompson both provided veteran experience and good effort on that end of the court, and Ben McLemore also showed great improvement on that end.  There's still a lot that needs to be done however.  The Kings could use more defense on the perimeter, even more so than they need a rim protector (especially given Cousins' improvement on both blocking shots and defending in the post).  I also would like to have George Karl hire someone as an assistant to be a defensive specialist, much the way he hired Vance Walberg to help with the offense.  Karl's system of constantly switching did not seem to work very well with this group of Kings players, and might not be the best strategy with a defense centered around DeMarcus Cousins anyway.   It should be noted that he had little time to practice and no training camp and his teams in Denver were very good defensively, although having Andre Iguodala helps a lot on that front.

4. Basketball IQ

The Kings, like most bad teams, often have had to rely on using talented players that don't exactly know how to fully harness their talent.  Derrick Williams is a supreme example, the former number two overall pick that has yet to carve a niche for himself in the league.  The Kings were a very sloppy team last season, ranking 27th in turnovers.  So many of those turnovers were unforced mistakes or bad passes from players trying to do too much or not being aware of the situation.  The addition of Andre Miller was a good salve for some of Sacramento's problems in this area, but the Kings need more players that understand their role and how to excel in it.

***

I could probably go on for another ten thousand words on all of Sacramento's problems, but these appear to be the biggest ones to me.  It's unlikely they can solve all of them in one offseason, but at least they can make some headway so that this team isn't stuck in this quagmire of despair for much longer.