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Midterm Report Card

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Grading your Sacramento Kings!

Kimani Okearah

Well Kings fans, we’re officially halfway through another, erm, interesting NBA season and it’s time to assess how things have been going. Right now, Dave Joerger’s squad has managed to win only 16 of their first 41 games; comparatively, amidst the chaos of last year, Sacramento actually had the better record of 18-23.

Let’s get to some arbitrary grades!

The Leadership

Vivek Ranadivé

Tim’s Grade: D-

Vivek Ranadivé has clearly taken a step back from the public eye. I haven’t seen him sitting with any celebrities and he hasn’t unwittingly thrown rap stars into a broken locker room and that’s why he gets a D-minus instead of an F. In October, yes that was only three months ago, he blame shifted his way into a controversy with Geoff Petrie and came out on the losing end. He only continued to hurt his public image with that mess of an interview and hopefully that was his last foray into the limelight for a long time. Our owner has also continued to sacrifice the future stability of this franchise for a long-shot hope at making the playoffs for one year. In Greg’s revealing interview with Carmichael Dave, it was revealed that the front office was given the directive to make the postseason by the time the Kings entered the Golden One Center, no matter what. I dream of the day in which Vivek acts as a hands off owner, brings in a qualified front office, and enjoys the rewards of being the owner of a successful basketball operation.

section214’s Grade: D

First point of clarification: I see this as “Ownership,” and I give Ownership an “A” for the arena and an “F” for the product on the floor. I guess that would come out to a “C” average, so let’s make it two “F’s” for the product on the floor. Yeah, that works.

Akis’ Grade: C-

I think Vivek has learned to stay away from the limelight in recent years, and the work on the long term health of the franchise from a business perspective, technological perspective, the arena, etc. has been amazing. That would be an A+ from me. The basketball part though... yeah that stinks. And eventually, the new arena is going to lose its luster if the team itself isn’t a draw.

W. Griffith’s Grade: D+

Vivek is so close to getting out of his own way, and the unfortunately fortunate side effect of Rudy Gay’s injury might be that the Kings front office might be able to finally sit Vivek down and say “Listen. This playoff deadline just isn’t going to happen. Let us do what’s best for the long term success of the team.” As far as I know, he allowed Chris Granger to do his job without much interference and look how high Sacramento is on the arena and business side of the organization. Business Operations and the Arena get an A++ from me. Vivek and his rumored insistence for a playoffs or bust mentality is what drags this grade way, way down for me. Being handled by Geoff Petrie and Co. earlier this season doesn’t boost his grade either.

Vlade Divac

Tim’s Grade: C-

As per usual, there hasn’t been much movement on the trade front in the NBA prior to the deadline. The Kings have had several veteran players on the block for months, but I don’t imagine that any realistic offers have come through. I don’t blame Vlade for the Gay injury as there was no way to predict something like that was going to happen and only contenders were going to be interested in Rudy, and that interest was only going to show itself at the deadline. There are major past mistakes to be accounted for, such as the now crippling Philly trade, but this season, Vlade hasn’t had much to do, so he gets an average grade.

section214’s Grade: F

And I call this the “Front Office” and not just Vlade Divac. Looking at it through the prism of “Front Office” removes the Divac warm fuzzies, though at this rate the production of this team will remove the last of those warm fuzzies soon enough.

I just can’t give any other grade to a front office that has been unable to improve on last year’s under-performing squad. The signing of Garrett Temple almost gets it to a D-, but the signing of Matt Barnes is cause for expulsion. Arron Afflalo has not been a viable solution at shooting guard. Ty Lawson has played better of late, but I still place him firmly in backup point guard territory, so his signing is not a huge needle mover for me. The hiring of Dave Joerger and the implementation of his system has had a hand in rendering Willie Cauley-Stein and Omri Casspi virtually valueless. The rookie class certainly has some promise, but nothing that has had a positive impact on the bottom line of this season.

Akis’ Grade: D

I was really close to giving Vlade and the Front Office an F, but that’s mainly based on the team’s previous moves, as the 2015 trade to Philadelphia is getting worse every second. I also think the team’s unwillingness to move Rudy Gay this offseason in the vain hopes of getting a playoff spot has now cost the team yet another asset (although you can never blame a front office too much for a fluke injury). The cost effective acquisitions of this summer were a nice sight to see after so much unnecessary spending the year before, and getting a first rounder for Marco Belinelli was a coup. Signing Matt Barnes was not good, especially giving him a player option. I want to see this front office pivot, but I’m not sure I trust this front office to pivot.

W. Griffith’s Grade: D-

This might be as much on Vivek as it is on Vlade, but this playoff or bust mentality this season has absolutely killed any hope that I had for the current front office. Holding onto Rudy for as long as they did and signing Matt Barnes are two things that absolutely would not have happened if they had their perspectives straight on where this team is headed. I’ve enjoyed watching Tolliver play, and Garrett Temple has been a revelation, but this is not a quality playoff team. The 8th seed is not worth another 5 or 6 years of mediocrity and for those saying “But the 8th seed provides valuable experience!”, my question is, for who? The assets we’re letting waste away on the bench ala Willie, Ben, Omri? For the aging veterans that have either been there already or won’t be with the Kings much longer? Player turnover in Vivek’s ownership has been pretty extreme, and any benefit the 8th seed might have had on morale (?) or experience (?) for the team, even before Rudy’s injury, was not worth it. Vlade should have been playing the long game, and sent Rudy away for assets long before his unfortunate injury. Vivek’s insistence might be the only thing saving the front office from an F.

Dave Joerger

Tim’s Grade: C

I’ve not been happy with Dave Joerger’s performance as the Head Coach and I believe I’ve been pretty vocal about that fact. While he doesn’t have a talented roster to work with, it’s still his responsibility to put the best players on the floor who give his team the best chance to win games while also developing young guys. He’s been reluctant to start Garrett Temple, the Kings third best player and only real option at shooting guard and his never-ending leash with Matt Barnes has been inexcusable. Dave, MATT BARNES IS NO LONGER GOOD AT BASKETBALL AND IS A TERRIBLE PERSON.

Not that he owes the media anything, but Coach has also frequently promised to do things, like go small and play Malachi and then those things never happen. I certainly don’t think his job is or should be in jeopardy, but Dave Joerger has been a bit of a disappointment for me. I would love to see what he can do with young, hungry players.

section214’s Grade: C-

To be clear, I think that this team is performing right at its talent level. And I think that that Michael Malone would bring in a similar record for this squad, as would George Karl. So Joerger has done average work with the team that has been given to him. But we’ve seen a couple of players regress under him (Casspi, WCS, Collison), and others take a long time to adapt to his system (Tolliver, Lawson). And my personal distaste for Matt Barnes aside, there is no statistical explanation for why Barnes is getting so much burn. But DeMarcus Cousins at least seems to be OK with him, so that’s something, right?

Akis’ Grade: C-

I was really kinda hoping for more from Dave Joerger, especially on defense. The team has actually gotten worse on that front despite playing one of the slower paces in the NBA, and the development of young players has been basically cast aside. Check out this recent article from the Memphis Flyer on David Fizdale, specifically noting how Fizdale has helped the Grizzlies by incorporating the youth while Joerger spent time giving big minutes to guys like Ryan Hollins and Matt Barnes. That’s worrisome to me, and the fact that we are halfway through a season and still don’t know what the rotation or starting lineup is going to be from night to night is also troubling.

W. Griffith’s Grade: C

I agree with section214 that this team in performing right to its talent level. Joerger has spent too much paying Barnes back for his play in Memphis, has spent too long keeping Omri from that spot, and has been frustrating when it comes to developing the younger players. He’s slowed the pace, but hasn’t improved the offense or defense statistical outputs and while a system does take time to develop, his insistence on playing stopgap players over the younger players is worrisome at best, and completely negligent at best. DeMarcus Cousins is the only player to get better under Joerger in this first half season, and again while this stuff takes time, Kings fans could create an atmospheric condition with the frequency they’re checking their watches.

Players

Anthony Tolliver

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Anthony Tolliver 29 5 21.4 12.1 2.2 4.8 0.453 1.2 3.1 0.396 0.563 0.583 1.1 3.6 0.9 9.9 0.4 0.2 0.6 6.7 12.4 0.3

Tim’s Grade: C

Anthony Tolliver has been just okay. He’s a player that needs minutes in order to get into the flow of the game. Tolliver has upped his three point shooting to almost 40% on the season and the eye-test tells me that he’s often in the game when the Kings begin to come back in games. I would like to continue to see him start next to Cousins to see if he can become a more involved part of the offensive game plan.

section214’s Grade: D

I’m going to guess that I am going to represent the low end of Tolliver’s grades, but he simply has not been good, with the lone exception being his 3-point shooting. Perhaps some of this is opportunity, but that is at least a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Tolliver is a piss-poor rebounder on a team that is getting beaten up pretty badly on the boards. To wit, DeMarcus Cousins and Kosta Koufos will each grab you 10-11 boards per 36 minutes. Small forwards Rudy Gay and Matt Barnes come in at around 7, as does underachiever Willie Cauley-Stein. Tolliver gets you only 6 per 36 minutes. That ranks him 103rd out of 109 NBA centers and power forwards, and 53rd out of 58 power forwards. That’s Derrick Williams-esque.

Akis’ Grade: C-

Tolliver was brought in to stretch the floor and essentially he’s done that. However he isn’t rebounding or providing much on defense, and while his overall 3P% is pretty good, he isn’t shooting them consistently. It seems like he’ll go 0-4 one night and 4-5 another. When he isn’t making his threes, he’s not really contributing what the team needs from him.

W. Griffith’s Grade: C

Anthony Tolliver was signed to hit three’s and rebound, and he’s done one rather well, and one rather poorly. I wish he was more consistent in his three point shooting, as I wish he was available to play on the defensive end of the floor, but the Kings are getting what they signed up for with Tolliver. I hope his presence in the locker room is better than his presence in the box scores, but he hasn’t been a disappointment, just the player we all knew he was, not any better or any worse.

Arron Afflalo

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Arron Afflalo 34 19 23.4 8.7 2.7 6.2 0.436 0.8 2.1 0.386 0.461 0.5 1.3 2 1 8.3 0.3 0.1 0.6 7.5 14.3 -0.5

Tim’s Grade: D

I didn’t think Afflalo would play well when Vlade signed him and Arron has done nothing to prove that theory incorrect. In a previous NBA life he was known as a good defender, but those abilities have fallen off of a cliff. He’s a decent bench scoring option and I would like to see Joerger play him more at small forward (which is almost guaranteed to happen at this point) as he struggles to stay in front of smaller shooting guards. He also reportedly refused to enter a game earlier in the year, but just as every other issue since Vlade took the reigns, it was quietly swept under the rug.

section214’s Grade: D-

Honestly, just horrendous. A shell of his former self, but this was pretty much known to everyone except the Kings front office in the off season. He is really playing at Ben McLemore levels, but he has a more assured expression on his face so he does not look as completely lost as Ben Mac. Show of hands of those that would rather see Malachi Richardson at this point? Show of hands of those that would rather see Pooh Richardson at this point?

Akis’ Grade: D+

I was really hopeful that Afflalo could provide some much needed stability for the Kings at SG this season, but at one point he lost his starting job to Ben McLemore. Afflalo is essentially an offense-only player at this point, as he’s too slow to guard opposing guards and doesn’t particularly try all that hard anyway. On offense, he spends more time posting up than DeMarcus Cousins, when instead he should be spotting up and spreading the floor. I suspect the Kings will lean more on Affalo in Gay’s absence, and maybe being a more featured scorer will help him. But right now it’s looking like it was a good idea to make most of his salary for next season unguaranteed.

W. Griffith’s Grade: D-

Unlike Tim, I had higher hopes for Afflalo when he was signed. Joerger’s defensive schemes and Afflalo’s rep as a three-and-d guy seemed like a great way to plug the gigantic hole at shooting guard. Fast forward to now, and I’m okay with any asset we can get in return. Afflalo had a three game stretch in which there was the inkling that maybe he was turning the season around and then he went right back to being inefficient and ineffective against NBA level shooting guards. I’d rather throw his minutes to Malachi Richardson and while the SG spot would once again be a black hole, Richardson might actually focus on the things that will keep that spot his to lose. I’ll be interested to see if he plays Small Forward now that Rudy is injured and Matt Barnes’ bus back to the old folks home is finally back on the road towards Sacramento, but I’ll be more interested to see which team offers a conditional second rounder for his services.

Ben McLemore

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Ben McLemore 32 14 15.1 7.1 2 5.1 0.401 0.6 1.9 0.295 0.465 0.457 0.7 1.3 0.6 12.1 0.4 0.1 0.8 5.3 18.5 -0.6

Tim’s Grade: F

Ben isn’t an NBA player. He’ll probably play really well in China in a year or two and I hope that success makes him happy. My question is, if he’s the hard worker and gym rat that he’s purported to be, why hasn’t his dribbling or any other aspect of his game improved since he was drafted?

section214’s Grade: F

Worse than Arron Afflalo. I almost didn’t give him an F, because I don’t want to hold him back for another year. Happy trails, Ben.

Akis’ Grade: F

What is there to say about Ben? He’s in his fourth season and he’s still making rookie mistakes out there. If he ever figures it out in the NBA, I’ll be very happy for him. I just don’t think that will happen with the Kings at this point.

W. Griffith’s Grade: F

Shooting guard is the Defense Against the Dark Arts position for the Kings and add that too Ben McLemore being cursed the second he stole the Pizza Guy mantle from Isaiah Thomas, he really didn’t stand a chance. I really truly hope Ben finds his way back to the league ala Hassan Whiteside, but at this point, I’m excited to see him and Jimmer duke it out for CBA championships for years to come.

Darren Collison

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Darren Collison 33 29 29.5 15.3 4.7 10 0.47 1.1 2.7 0.404 0.494 0.524 2.3 1.9 4.3 11.9 1 0.1 1.5 12.8 19.3 0

Tim’s Grade: B-

Darren hasn’t played up to hopes this season. His numbers are down pretty much across the board and I think the personal issues and early suspension have probably played a role in that decrease.

Season by Season Comparison*

Season PPG APG FGM FGA FTA
Season PPG APG FGM FGA FTA
14-15 16.1 5.6 5.8 12.2 4.1
15-16 14 4.3 5.1 10.5 3.1
16-17 12.8 4.3 4.7 10 2.7

As demonstrated, his offensive impact has decreased over the past couple of years and his attacks on the rim are less frequent. With Rudy Gay out for the season, the Kings are going to need Darren to step up his offensive game over the next three months. There is some evidence that Collison is beginning to gain some rhythm as he’s averaging 16.1 PPG in the month of January.

section214’s Grade: D

The missed games at the beginning of the season cost this team a chance at continuity, and his play has been the most sporadic and the worst of his three year career here. At the peak of his game, Collison was arguably a top 20 point guard in the league. He is a fringe starter in the here and now.

Akis’ Grade: D

Hey remember when we signed Darren Collison over Isaiah Thomas because Collison was more of a “true point guard”? Since that decision, Darren Collison has had an assist rate of 23.9% and a turnover rate of 13.4%. Isaiah Thomas has had an assist rate of 31.0% and a turnover rate of just 11.6%. Oh and Thomas is also 3rd in the league in scoring right now. (I’ve had a lot of people tell me to get over this. I won’t leave it alone because if anyone in ownership/management reads us, I want to drill this into their heads so they don’t repeat mistakes of the past. It was a stupid decision then, and it’s proving to be even worse in retrospect.)

W. Griffith’s Grade: C-

Darren Collison has taken a big step back this season for the Kings, right about the time the franchise needed him to step up. His suspension at the beginning of the season did nothing to help his on court chemistry with teammates, especially in a new system and even now that he is playing better, he’s still losing ground and playing time to Ty Lawson, a player who many of us assumed wouldn’t be in the league had it not been for the Kings desperation for point guard help. Akis is talking about Isaiah Thomas, isn’t he? Now I’m pissed all over again.

DeMarcus Cousins

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
DeMarcus Cousins 40 40 34.7 26.7 9.3 20.7 0.45 1.8 4.8 0.374 0.473 0.493 7.6 10.1 4.4 12 1.4 1.4 3.4 28 36.8 3

Tim’s Grade: A

DeMarcus Cousins is the only top-50 player on the Kings, the only All-Star, and the only top-15 player as well. This season has seen our franchise cornerstone continue to drift toward the perimeter as he’s taking 4.8 3PA per game, which leads the team. He’s posting career bests in points per game, assists per game, assist percentage, player efficiency rating, and minutes per game while his turnover percentage is at its lowest ever. Pound for pound, Boogie is the most dominant big man in basketball and the only concerns that continue to plague him have nothing to do with his skill. He has 11 technical fouls on the season and his relationship with officials has clearly not improved. There have been the usual locker room tirades and arguments, but his talent and importance to the team cannot be overstated.

section214’s Grade: B

Cousins continues to expand his game, becoming more effective from the perimeter and better at valuing the ball. I still think that his leadership (especially by example) skills lack, and as the clear centerpiece of this team, that absolutely should be one of his responsibilities…Isaiah Thomas would has issues with that responsibility, right? IF this were a real report card, he would get an “A” in academics and a “C--” in citizenship.

Akis’ Grade: B+

Cousins is playing incredible basketball this year. Last year he went from 12 three pointers made over his entire career to 70 over the year on 33.3% shooting. This year he’s already surpassed that at 73 makes on 37.8% shooting. He’s also passing better than ever. His rebounding has suffered a little bit from all the time spent on the perimeter, but he’s still bringing down 10 a game. I do think he’s taken a step back in terms of his attitude and demeanor this year though. He’s leading the league in technicals and is acquiring them at a faster rate than ever. At this rate, he’d have three suspensions for techs before the end of the season. Again, playing great basketball though, and he will likely make his third straight All-Star team as a result.

W. Griffith’s Grade: B+

DeMarcus Cousins continues to be the only consistently great thing about the Kings. While his demeanor and penchant for picking up technicals continues to plague him in the popularity department, he’s still the only thing from the Kings being the worst team in the league by a fair margin. A dynamic scorer at the center position is still a very valuable thing ($200+ million apparently) but the most impressive thing that DeMarcus Cousins has done this season isn’t the increased three point percentage or attempts, but rather the concerted effort to get his teammates involved in the offense. If the Kings had more than one shooter warm at the same time, DeMarcus could be putting up 7 assists a game or more from the center spot. That’s not a joke. He’s averaging over six a game since December with the crew they’ve got now. Imagine having a couple extra shooters to surround him with. I’ll see myself to the public guillotine now.

Garrett Temple

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Garrett Temple 41 7 25.8 11.7 2.8 6.2 0.447 1.2 3.2 0.376 0.525 0.545 0.9 2.8 2.1 12.8 1.1 0.5 1 7.6 13.3 0.7

Tim’s Grade: A+

I take contract and expectations into these grades and Temple has outperformed both of those. When given the opportunity, he can cause trouble for some of the best perimeter scorers in the NBA. He’s been the Kings third best player this season and is turning into the “3 and D” player that basketball fans constantly clamor for. His only struggles really show themselves when he’s asked to play point guard, which isn’t his actual position, and his veteran presence and on-court leadership clearly display themselves night after night.

section214’s Grade: A

The hardest working player on the team from baseline to baseline. Literally the only player on the team that has shown up every night and given the level of effort that says playing in the NBA is a privilege and not a birthright. Give me ten guys that work as hard as Garrett Temple, and I will win more games than any Kings team since 2005-06.

Akis’ Grade: A

A new Kings free agent hasn’t won me over as quickly as Garrett Temple since maybe Bobby Jackson. The dude plays hard on both ends of the floor and does pretty much whatever is asked of him.

W. Griffith’s Grade: B+

Garrett Temple is a cool, cool dude. He’s become the most likeable player on the Kings since Isaiah Thomas, and did it by being all around solid. He’s a leader of men, a player that is generally reliable on defense and has a serviceable 3 point shot to boot. He is NOT a point guard, but that’s okay, because the shooting guard position is even more of a mess. I wish he was 26 instead of 30, but when the dust settles from this season’s eventual firesale, Garrett Temple and DeMarcus Cousins will be the only two rotational players left… hopefully.

Georgios Papagiannis

Tim’s Grade: Incomplete

We haven’t seen much of Papa G and I don’t imagine we’ll really know what we have until the middle of next year. The pick doesn’t look great at this point, but no one from the 2016 draft has clarified their status as the best pick in the draft.

section214’s Grade: Incomplete

Akis’ Grade: Incomplete

From what I’ve seen of his games against D-League competition, Papa G has a lot of work ahead of him. That’s ok though, as big men usually take a while to develop and he’s just 19. I wouldn’t expect to see him play much on the court for the Kings this season, even if the Kings decide to tank. He needs to work on his body especially so that he can be quicker on defense and running the floor.

W. Griffith’s Grade: Incomplete

I’d refer to Sactown Royalty’s resident Reno experts if you want more than a generalized opinion on Papa G. I still have high hopes for the big guy, even if he has struggled at the D-League level. What say you, Luther, Jason and Co.?

Kosta Koufos

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Kosta Koufos 41 32 19.3 14.2 2.9 4.9 0.582 0 0 0 0.585 0.582 0.5 5.6 0.6 15.6 0.6 0.6 1 6.2 14.6 0

Tim’s Grade: B+

Konstantine Demetrios Koufos is the perfect role player for any team and he’s probably the most underappreciated member of the Kings. Each game, he plays tough defense, rebounds the ball, and doesn’t try to do more than his skill set allows. Kosta began the season starting next to DeMarcus Cousins and that caused clear spacing issues, but I put that more on Dave Joerger than Koufos or Cousins. He has seemed to struggle more than usual with the ball slipping out of hands, but other than that, there are no complaints. On a side note, with his long-term, cap-friendly contract, relatively young age, and his lack of reliance on athleticism, Kosta is probably the most valuable non-Boogie trade piece that Vlade has in the bare cupboards.

section214’s Grade: B

Koufos has done the kind of job that would be warmly recognized on a good team, as he would be a bench big that gives you solid burn on most other teams. The starting power forward position deserves a D-, but that is on the front office and not Kosta Koufos.

Akis’ Grade: B+

Kosta has been really good, playing tough defense, making his patented half hook most of the time and just playing smart basketball. He’d probably be a quality starting center on most teams in the NBA (imagine him on the Warriors) but alas, he’s playing on the team with DeMarcus Cousins. They’ve been establishing a bit of a rapport on the court lately though. I do think Koufos is now our best non-Cousins, non-youth trade asset now that Rudy Gay is out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him gone at the deadline; He’s a player that will help almost anyone on one of the best contracts in the league.

W. Griffith’s Grade: B+

Kosta is what he is and I wish we had him under a little better circumstances. He’s a player who knows his role, and executes it well. His limitations in our current offense are due more to his misplacement as a starting PF along side DeMarcus, instead of being the first big off the bench. He always plays hard in a thankless position, and if he was utilized the way he should be, he’d be one of the best of his kind in the entire league. I’d venture to guess he’ll be playing his role on another team by the end of the season, and I hope the front office has the common sense to hold for something equal to his relatively high value.

Malachi Richardson

Tim’s Grade: Incomplete

Malachi has shown that he has confidence and may make it in the league. His D-League performances have been impressive and I hope he gets some non-garbage time in the coming months. He’s a streaky scorer and his length may help him to develop into a solid NBA player.

section214’s Grade: Incomplete

Akis’ Grade: Incomplete

It’s a damn shame we haven’t seen enough of Malachi to give him a grade yet. He did pretty well in the D-League, and I’ve liked the flashes I’ve seen from him. Even if he just develops into a Nick Young/J.R. Smith/Marcus Thornton type (bench scorer who isn’t particularly efficient) that’s something we need to know. I hope we see more from him in the second half.

W. Griffith’s grade: DNP-Coach’s Decision

Matt Barnes

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Matt Barnes 38 12 24.9 9.6 2.6 6.8 0.378 1.2 3.8 0.319 0.452 0.467 0.9 4.8 2.7 17.6 0.7 0.3 1.6 7.3 16.2 0.1

Tim’s Grade: F

Matt Barnes is bad at basketball and almost every statistic backs that argument up. He has the highest turnover percentage on the team, jacks up the second most three pointers at almost four per game, yet only shoots 31%, and shows a complete lack of control in all areas of his life, both on and off of the court. The only thing he really does well is throw touchdown passes from the other end of the court. Hopefully, a contender becomes interested in his tough guy act and deals for him or I don’t know how I’ll watch another year of the poor excuse for a basketball player that is Matt Barnes.

section214’s Grade: D

Focusing on Barnes solely as a player, he is the most inefficient shooter on the team not named Ben McLemore, but he is a better than average rebounder for a small forward. He has been one of the poorer defenders on a poor defending team. He’s basically a poorer shooting and 11 year older Doug McDermott.

Akis’ Grade: D

I’m not gonna give Barnes an F because I think he’s simply being asked to play too much right now. That’s on Joerger, not Barnes. However when he has been on the court, he has not been good. He’s not shooting well or defending well, basically the opposite of what you want from your “3-and-D” guys. He does get the occasional highlight pass, but he also has several boneheaded turnovers a game too.

W. Griffith’s Grade: F

It isn’t Barne’s fault that he’s playing as much as he is much in the same way that it isn’t Vlade’s fault that he’s being pressed to get to the playoffs. The people above them are making a mistake by forcing the issue, but they could both be handling it better. Barnes had a stretch of 8-10 games in the beginning of the season where he was playing decent basketball and just as I wondered if I should be softer on him, his game collapsed in on itself. He’s been a direct contributor to the Kings losses than their wins, and while it’s is nice to have a player willing to get rough for his teammates, I’d rather that player not be a 36 year old playing 25 minutes a game and contributing nothing but a couple of three’s every fifth game.

Omri Casspi

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Omri Casspi 22 2 18 11.6 2.4 5.3 0.453 0.5 1.3 0.379 0.477 0.5 0.5 4.1 1.2 11.9 0.5 0 0.8 5.9 16.2 -0.1

Tim’s Grade: C-

I almost went with an incomplete here, but Casspi has played more minutes than Cauley-Stein and so he gets a rating as well. I don’t think Omri has been given a chance to establish any sort of in-game rhythm as of yet, but that’s soon to change due to the Gay injury. Both his play and his minutes have been erratic and minor injuries and illnesses haven’t helped that issue. Casspi is on pace to play only 794 total minutes as opposed to 1880 last year. I hope that he performs in his upcoming minutes as he’s in a contract year.

section214’s Grade: Incomplete

I don’t know what Casspi said or did to Dave Joerger, but it defies logic that he can’t at least get a little extended burn for this foundering team. I mean, not playing rookies is one thing. But Casspi is an eight year NBA veteran coming off his best season, and the alternative to him is Matt-freaking-Barnes. I don’t get it.

Akis’ Grade: Incomplete

Omri Casspi’s new residence in Dave Joerger’s doghouse is one of the more inexplicable turn of events I’ve seen. Casspi had a breakout season last year, and he’s been largely relegated to the bench in favor of guys like Anthony Tolliver and Matt freaking Barnes. Why Joerger is so fixated on playing those guys over Casspi, I’ll never know, especially when they haven’t played well and every statistic shows it. Now Casspi is injured, but when he comes back, he’ll hopefully get the opportunity he deserves now that a big role has opened up in Rudy’s absence. It will be up to Omri to prove that Dave Joerger was wrong all season long.

W. Griffith’s Grade: C

Omri’s playing time might be the biggest gripe I have with the coaching staff in Sacramento. Sure he hasn’t helped himself with his odd bouts of sickness and his untimely injuries, but Omri just simply should be playing more. When he has played, he’s provided rebounding in a way that Matt Barnes hasn’t, and shooting that neither Matt Barnes or Arron Afflalo could duplicate. Here’s to hoping that Omri sees some extended minutes in the second half of season, especially now with Rudy’s injury.

Rudy Gay

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Rudy Gay 30 30 33.8 18.2 6.7 14.7 0.455 1.4 3.8 0.372 0.483 0.502 3.9 6.3 2.7 12.8 1.5 0.9 2.5 18.7 25.6 0.8

Tim’s Grade: A-

As important as Boogie is to the Kings success, the offensive contributions and the semi-surprising defensive commitment from Rudy this season have been almost as key to their occasional success. Gay struggled a bit with injuries and came back a little slowly, numbers-wise, but Sacramento will be a shell of itself due to his season-ending injury. His professionalism and smooth bucket-getting skills are going to be dearly missed.

section214’s Grade: B

2nd best player on the team and the only real NBA-level starter on the roster. Gay has really done a nice job on the defensive end this year (compared to his teammates), regardless of whether or not he is having a good night at the other end of the floor. His big mistake for this season was honestly stating his intention to opt out of his contract at the end of the year – that would definitely have been better left unsaid.

Akis’ Grade: B+

When I see people say that the Kings are better without Rudy Gay, I can’t believe it. What game are they watching? Rudy Gay was Sacramento’s second best player, and in fact the only player who made the Kings better on both ends of the court when he was on the floor according to basketball-reference’s net rating. He’s Sacramento’s only really excellent shot creator (he’s better at it than even Cousins, as Cousins doesn’t possess Gay’s quickness) and without him the Kings are even easier to guard. Now his season is over and his career will likely never be the same. I truly hope that Rudy comes back better than ever because he played the best basketball of his career for the Kings and the Kings did not reward him with success in kind.

W. Griffith’s Grade: B+

While Rudy started off this season with an itch for defense to go along with his usual offensive prowess, he was slowed by injury and eventually succumbed to possibly the worst possible injury a professional athlete can incur, save for maybe getting decapitated. Gay being the only other true NBA starter on this team meant him having to carry a near impossible, and mostly thankless load at times; playing a calm Robin to Boogie’s pissy Batman, and having to score efficiently while being guarded by his man and whomever was playing off of the non-shooters the Kings were deploying at the moment. His season was injury plagued and was probably not going to end with the Kings, but he did the best he could for as long as he could. Get well, and soon.

Skal Labissiere

Tim’s Grade: Incomplete

Skal has played 27 total minutes in his NBA career. His minor league production has been pretty solid and if he can put some meat on his bones, he has a future with the Kings.

section214’s Grade: Incomplete.

Akis’ Grade: Incomplete

I’m more interested in Skal Labissiere’s development than any of our other three rookies. I think he could end up being one of those guys that fits really well next to Big Cuz if he manages to achieve even part of his potential.

W. Griffith’s Grade: Incomplete

Skal looks more and more like he could be a special player in the league if he can put on 15-20 lbs worth of muscle. Again, I’ll defer to those Reno Bighorn reports, but I’m excited as heck for whenever Skal gets consistent minutes in Sacramento.

Ty Lawson

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Ty Lawson 39 15 25.1 13.1 3.1 7.3 0.424 0.5 1.9 0.288 0.471 0.461 1.9 2.7 4.2 17.5 1.1 0.1 1.8 8.6 18.1 -0.1

Tim’s Grade: B

Ty is only making $980,000 this year and has been one of the best players for Dave Joerger. While he struggled to start the season, he’s found his niche as the backup PG for this squad. His lack of shooting confidence and ability sometimes leaves something to be desired, but he can run an offense and is an occasional pest on the defensive end of things. The Kings got a bit of a steal in Lawson’s signing and his talent level, veteran presence, and cheap contract may turn into a decent trade chip at the deadline. A contender like Cleveland or the Clippers may be willing to give up an asset for an experienced ball handler on their roster.

section214’s Grade: C+

Ty Lawson is Ish Smith or Ray Felton. That’s not bad for an NBA point guard. It’s better than watching Ray McCallum, and it’s better than watching the 2016-17 version of Darren Collison. I hope that Lawson shows enough of a resurgence in his game to interest another NBA team in the off season. Before we get crazy here, let’s remember that Lawson was barely shooting over 40% for the first two months of the season. If we were grading this three weeks ago, Lawson would have been a D+.

Akis’ Grade: B-

Lawson has been better than expected, but that’s after a rough start to the year. If he can keep it up, he’s earned his place back into the NBA with his play although not in the upper echelon of Point Guards like he might have been considered before. We’re seeing more and more of the old Ty Lawson though, with his aggressive takes to the basket and confident shooting and passing. He still hasn’t really regained his three point shot however, shooting sub-30% from there.

W. Griffith’s Grade: C

Section214 is right again in that, if I had to grade Ty Lawson’s play up until a few weeks ago, I’d have given him something much lower. He did an admirable job filling in for Darren Collison the first eight games of the season, and then his play went entirely off a cliff. Recently he’s gotten hot, or at least lukewarm, and if his shot can climb even a bit higher, I’ll be entirely fine with having him back next season. I had hoped he’d prove to be a motivator for Darren Collison to come back strong, but as he steals more and more minutes from Darren, Ty seems much more likely to be a death certificate on Darren’s time with the Kings. His hustle is inspiring at times, and his shooting has been frustrating, but he might be the best point the Kings have right now and for that his grade improves.

Willie Cauley-Stein

2016-2017 Season*

Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Player G GS MP PER FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P% eFG% FT TRB AST TOV% STL BLK TOV PTS USG% VORP
Willie Cauley-Stein 34 0 10.9 12.4 1.9 3.4 0.553 0 0 0 0.558 0.553 0.4 2 0.3 12.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 4.1 17.8 -0.1

Tim’s Grade: D

Willie has probably been the biggest disappointment for me this season. He’s been outspoken about his desire to play more, but he’s doing nothing to justify additional minutes. His rebounding numbers are almost embarrassing for a seven foot center and he refuses to box out opposing players for whatever reason. His most recent interview with Ailene Voisin spoke of someone who doesn’t understand what he contributes to the league and I wouldn’t mind moving on from him at this point as long as the return is decent.

section214’s Grade: F

This may seem a little harsh, but honestly, the level of backslide here is both amazing and alarming. Ending last season as a guy that could justify being selected 6th in his draft, he is now looking up at no fewer than a dozen fellow classmates. Cauley-Stein appears lost on both ends of the floor, and quite frankly, rather disengaged whether he is in or out of the game. What once looked like a turn in the Kings’ drafting fortunes is now looking like one more sad chapter. There’s still time for Cauley-Stein to right the ship, but tick-tick-tick.

Akis’ Grade: F

Willie is apparently spending all his free time practicing all the things that he isn’t good at instead of getting better at the things that he already was good at. As a result, when he’s been on the court so far this year he’s been an ineffective rebounder and defender, which is basically what he was drafted to do. Willie says he doesn’t want to be labeled or put into a mold, and that’s fine, but that’s the kind of thing you work on once you’ve already established yourself and are looking to expand your game.

W. Griffith’s Grade: D-

Willie’s sophomore campaign has been a disaster but I’m unsure as to who the lay the blame on. Willie had mentioned about the expanded role in which the coaching staff believed he should have, but Willie has been pretty bad in everything. I’m hoping that this has been development year for Willie in the same was as it has been for the rookies, and that working on his weaknesses instead of heightening his strengths pays off. To go from a George Karl philosophy of “rebound and rim run” to a more modern and nuance system involving setting up shooters from the high post and being able to shoot with range; that would be a difficult transition. But Willie hasn’t shown sparks, much less flashes of pulling it together. Again, as the playoffs slip out of view he might get a chance to prove himself with an extended amount of time on the floor. It’ll be up to him to go out and perform, or he might just be gone quicker than we all expected at the end of last season.

*all statistics courtesy of basketball-reference.com

Let us know your grades in the comments below!