We round out our 30Q series today with a group roundtable on what we most want to see from the upcoming season. We asked each of our writers to provider their own perspective and would love to hear yours in the comments below. If you missed any one of our 30Q series, you can check them all out here.
Akis: There's a lot of things I want to see this year. I want to see DeMarcus Cousins dominate opposing big men. I want to see the Kings actually hitting some long range shots. I want to see this team confound expectations and win some games. But most of all I just want to see this team compete so I can finally have some fun. This team has been so bad for so long now that I've almost forgotten what it's like to have fun.
Last year's 5-1 start was the most excited I've been about this team in a long time, and it was a blast. I write a lot about the Kings, but there's no doubt that some of these seasons can be a slog, especially when it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. I felt rejuvenated as a fan during that early part of last season. I remember going to watch Interstellar at theaters and being that guy sneaking peeks at my phone to see the score of the Kings-Suns game. The first StR night last year was against the Spurs at home and we won and it just felt like this team had turned a corner. That night was also Fippin's birthday, and I remember talking with him and others that it was so nice being able to actually focus on the team in front of us instead of constantly looking back and reminiscing on past success.
That's why last year's dismantling and implosion hurt so much. We had tasted success for the first time in almost a decade and it was ripped away from us. I want that feeling back, and I want it to last longer than a month. I want to see this team in the news in March and April because they have a chance to be playing in May and June. I want to see people who haven't thought about the Kings in 10+ years start paying attention again. Let's have some fun this year, ok?
section214: I want to see meaningful basketball played all season, at least into early April.
Let's face it: this team was put together to compete this year. Maybe not win a championship or even make the playoffs, but compete. The Kings did not spend/risk future 1st round picks and jettison last year's lottery pick in an effort to improve their record by a half dozen games. They did it in an effort to be relevant in the playoff conversation well into the season.
I want to see a team that plays as a team. I want to see the best player on the team be happy when the team wins on a night where he is less than at his best. I want to see Rudy Gay thrilled on a night where he gets fewer than ten shots. I want to see Rondo and Collison co-habitate. Less ego an more "we go!" I want to see George Karl express his confidence by not being a douchebag. I want to see bolts popping out of the rafters of Sleep Train due to the noise of excited fans. I want to see one of the Kings give James Ham an insider "wedgie" after a buzzer-beater win (and maybe one for Kayte Christensen, too).
And I want an official Red Ryder carbine action two hundred shot range model air rifle.
And a hamburger.
No, a cheeseburger.
Tony: I'll go ahead and echo Akis' statement. If I'm asked to single out one particular thing I'd like to see this season, the answer is fun. I want the fans to have fun, I want the players to have fun, I want to coaches to have fun, and the list goes on and on.
I don't know if I've ever been more depressed as a Kings fan than I was last season post-Michael Malone firing, and that didn't really end until the Kings drafted Willie Cauley-Stein on June 25th, and more specifically when Vlade Divac laid everything out in regards to DeMarcus Cousins, George Karl, and the future of this team in his post-draft press conference. I know a lot of folks will raise their hand and say the Maloof era and subsequent relocation saga was worse, and I'd counter by arguing that the relocation stuff was something entirely different. Relocation made me anxious, and it was a depressing situation, certainly, but I don't think Kings fans ever felt hopeless, or that they didn't have someone fighting for them. It felt like we still had a voice, we had fearless leaders putting in hours upon hours of work on our behalf. When the Kings were at their worst last season, I felt hopeless. It didn't feel like anyone was working with the organizations best interest in mind. It appeared as though the owners didn't know what they were doing, no one was on the same page, and now the single greatest player in Sacramento Kings history (a stretch, maybe, but it's close) was disgruntled and wanted out. The ship wasn't sinking because it had already sunk. The more I think about how bad it was, the more I cannot fathom how Vlade Divac put this thing back together.
The talent for a reasonably successful season is here. If they're having fun, if they can get along, if chemistry is built, this team will win games. It's not a talent issue anymore.
Kevin: What do I want to see this year? Beside's a dedicated Sour Patch Kids concession stand and the triumphant return of spicy mustard to the Sleep Train condiment areas?
I want to see the Suicide Squad in all it's glory! I want to see a team full of characters who enjoy playing with each other in the City of Trees, BECAUSE nobody else believed it would work. I want to see DeMarcus Cousins starting in the All-Star game and lauded not only for his dominance around the rim and on the boards, but also for his ability to hit the open man out of the double team and make everyone around him better. I want to see the resurgence of Rajon Rondo. I want to see the return of the Bench Mob. I want to see Ben McLemore take the next step in his development and begin to realize his full potential. I want to see Steamboat Willie block the hell out of some shots and get up and down the court every night. I want to see Darren Collison thrive in George Karl's system. I want to see Sleep Train (ARCO) get the sendoff it deserves. But most of all... I want to see the Sacramento Kings finally get beaten by someone other than themselves.
There are many elephants... in many rooms... but if the Kings can rally around the "Sacramento vs Everybody" mantra there's a solid chance we'll all have a lot of fun this season. I want to see that.
Blake: Part of being a bad team is not being able to compete for a whole game. Over the last 10 years of bad basketball in Sacramento we saw a lot of squads play about 20 minutes of basketball together per game. The rest of the time was spent on arguing with referees, being disgruntled about playing time or having disagreements with each other and the coaches. That is a recipe for 20-30 wins every season. If this Kings team wants to get better, they must compete for a whole game so they consistently have a fighting chance in the fourth quarter. And if they lose, they should be collectively mad about losing.
Another part of being a bad team is too much dribbling. We've got to see ball movement, the kind that makes the game fun and gets the crowd fired up; the kind of ball movement that results in higher percentage shots.
Aside from the play on the floor, I want to see the excitement for a competitive team back in this community.
Bradley: I want to just see a good basketball season. This doesn't mean playoffs, though obviously I would love to see it, and think it is the best shot in a decade that we could see it (sigh). I just want basketball to dominate the headlines. Not tweets, viral meningitis, random coach firings, etc. I want a year of positivity. A year where even if we do not make that playoff push, people can see that we are on the rise.
We are a deeper team than last year. We have more winners than last year. We have young guys with another year and off season under their belt. Assuming there is better health, and less insanity, I think 10 more wins is the floor for my expectations of this season. I think a total in the 40's is not a pipe dream, but a reasonable goal assuming these guys get on the same page.
I just want basketball again.
Not a circus. Not a soap opera. Not a greek tragedy.
Greg: This may seem simplistic, but I want respectability. I want the Kings to earn respect. That doesn't mean teams fear the Kings, per se. And it doesn't mean the pundits declare the Kings to be the team of the future. I just want the Kings to act in a way that stops them from being a punchline. Play well, be competitive, don't do dumb things.
Anything beyond that is gravy.
Bryant: I want to see actual team chemistry.
This one is harder to determine than a win/loss count, but my favorite thing about the early 2000s Kings was the chemistry. The team had the visual leaders (Vlade, Doug, Bibby) plenty of bench guys who knew their roles (Pollard, Hedo, anyone with the last name Jackson), and guys who worked hard to fit in however they needed to to make the team work - remember when Brad Miller took a bench seat during his crazy good 2004 season so that a hobbled Webber could maintain his superstar image? That team had its characters, but Rick Adleman and the on-court leaders brought the unit into a cohesive puzzle that surpassed the sums of its parts.
Chemistry will never develop the same way twice, but can the new Kings get some of that magic back? Can DeMarcus Cousins become the full leader-of-men he wants to be? Can Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison coexist, with one likely accepting less-than-optimal-minutes on a night-to-night basis? Can the team develop enough depth that the second unit can cohesively mesh and retain leads, or even extend them? Can this group of players work together and exceed the total sum of their parts? Can we get some more of this?!
Chemistry brings respectability, fun basketball, and (hopefully) wins. If this team is working together late into March with no drama, this season should be considered a success. Lets see some more headband love-taps.
Omer: Personally, I want to see stability. Enough with the coaching/front office carousel. And please, no more D'Alessandro-esque trading binges where half of the roster is shipped out in the span of a month. We have our players, we have our coach, we have our front office. I want the focus to be on the team's on-court performance, not picking apart trade rumors for someone or another, or whether this coach will get along better with that player, or which front office exec is getting a title makeover to make room for someone else.
We all got a short glimpse of that last November. It was one of the most exciting times to be a Kings fan, to finally see light at the end of this God-forsaken tunnel we've been stuck in for years. It made it all the more crushing when stupid pettiness meant that yet another season was another one to be forgotten. Those scars still hurt.
Its been a decade of drama. Lets play ball.
Robby: I'd just like to see everyone happy. Not content. But happy. A form of happy. That means Cousins and Karl, Vlade and Vivek, Koufus and Cauley-Stein and Carmichael Dave. Happiness has been elusive of late. Oh there has been joy and exuberance, but that has generally come at the cost of fear, fear of relocation, fear of chronic instability, fear of former, and at times current, ownership. Sports are about more than sports, that reality has been documented quite well in Sac. And for that reason sports can't always be a positive, life affirming exercise. But for that same reason they also shouldn't be a chronic exercise in futility. Particularly when the powers that be on occasion appear to be going out of their way to engage the futile. I thought this summer was a turning point in the negativity. I thought God said no and we, specifically Vlade, titty-twisted Him until he finally said "Oh, alright, fine." We all get irrationally excited when the season starts. Basketball is back. That excitement, that happiness, hasn't really managed to sustain itself much past November. I think it could and should this year. I'd like to see how everyone felt at media day not be that dissimilar to how everyone feels around All Star weekend.
That's what we want to see. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.