It's time once again for our annual series "30Q" in which we answer 30 questions over the course of September as we get ready for the upcoming season.
I had a friend recently tell me, “Man, you’re really down about the Kings this year aren’t you?”. It’s definitely true. I’m having a hard time finding that same passion and excitement before a season as I have in years past. It probably has to do with getting burned so many times. There’s only so much optimism I can muster when the team fails to meet any of the expectations they set out for themselves and when off-court drama overwhelms on-court performance.
But I’m still a fan, and no matter how bleak things get, I’ll always root for this team. I’ve written about this team almost daily for the last five years and look to be doing so for the foreseeable future. So what am I looking forward to?
The rookies in action
I love rooting for rookies, and this year the Kings have three of them! Now, I’m not expecting any of them to get major playing time (or even minor playing time to be honest), but I love seeing young guys get a chance and seeing how they improve over the course of a season. When they play well, it gets me excited about the future. Skal Labissiere especially looked like he could be a really fun player during Summer League, and Dave Joerger has been raving about him all summer. I can’t wait to see what he can do in the big leagues, and I’m also happy that for once it seems like we don’t have to rely on our rookies to play big minutes immediately.
The evolution of Willie Cauley-Stein
Speaking of rookies, Willie was one of my favorite players to watch last year. Despite issues he had with the coach, he remained professional and performed his role as a rim-runner and defender admirably. Despite injuries that took him out for the middle of the season, he worked hard during the break and by the end of the season looked like a much more well-rounded player. He’ll have a bigger role this season, and I’m looking forward to see how he adapts to that.
The Golden 1 Center
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the new arena. I’ve never been to an NBA basketball game in any arena outside of ARCO/Sleep Train. I really don’t know what to expect. I’ve been offered to go on tours of the Golden 1 Center as it was being built, but I’ve declined because I want to save my first time for when it’s complete and I can’t believe that’s happening for real this month after all the years of turmoil surrounding arena development in Sacramento.
Every new coach that’s come in here has always gotten a blank slate with me. Unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of blank slates fill up rather quickly in the last 7 years. Joerger has been saying all the right things this summer though, and I can’t wait to see what he can do if he can get this team to buy in. Not many of us liked the system the Kings ran last year, and so this should hopefully be better. I do expect some growing pains in the first year though.
Omri and Acy were my favorite players on the team last year, and with Acy gone, that leaves Omri as my sole favorite player. I love seeing him play, and his evolution from a young, cocky guy who thought he had to be a star to a veteran roleplayer with a deadly shot in his second stint with the Kings has made me a big fan. I do think Omri was one of the few players who benefited a lot from George Karl’s system, so I’ll be interested to see how Dave Joerger uses him.
It could always be this year
And then there’s this. That irrational hope that maybe, just maybe, this could finally be the year that everything turns around. Of course, that hope is incredibly small and growing smaller with each successive year, but like a cockroach it refuses to die. The Kings can’t suck forever, right?
Anyway, those are just some of things that I’m looking forward to for this season. How about you guys? Let us know in the comments below.