The All-Star break has arrived, and it couldn’t come soon enough for the Kings. A big chunk of the roster is injured, including promising rookie Malachi Richardson, who tore his hamstring with just a minute left against the Warriors. They’ll need this rest period to hopefully get some guys back and healthy, because once they come back, it will be do or die time as the team looks to end its decade-long playoff drought.
The High Post
If there’s one thing that I’ve really liked seeing from this team this season, it has been the “next man up” philosophy. For a while, players were in and out of the rotation as Coach Joerger looked to find a rotation that worked for him. That rotation chaos has dwindled to a minimum now as injuries have piled up for the team. But despite the injuries, Sacramento’s role players have stepped up, almost to a man. Just take a look at some of the numbers for players before Rudy Gay’s injury on Jan. 19th and since then.
Next Man Up
|Willie Cauley-Stein (pre-Rudy injury)||34||10.9||4.1||0.553||0||2||0.3||0.4||0.4|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (post-Rudy injury)||16||17.4||9.2||0.569||0||4.2||1||0.8||0.7|
|Ben McLemore (pre-Rudy injury)||32||15.1||5.3||0.401||0.295||1.3||0.6||0.4||0.1|
|Ben McLemore (post-Rudy injury||10||27.1||10.8||0.432||0.468||2.4||1.6||0.9||0.2|
|Arron Afflalo (pre-Rudy injury)||34||23.4||7.5||0.436||0.386||2||1||0.3||0.1|
|Arron Afflalo (post-Rudy injury)||15||30.6||8.5||0.417||0.396||1.7||1.9||0.5||0.2|
|Anthony Tolliver (pre-Rudy injury)||29||21.4||6.7||0.453||0.391||3.6||0.9||0.4||0.2|
|Anthony Tolliver (post-Rudy injury)||16||26.3||8.1||0.442||0.386||4.1||1||0.9||0.3|
|Ty Lawson (pre-Rudy injury)||39||25.1||8.6||0.424||0.288||2.7||4.2||1.1||0.1|
|Ty Lawson (post-Rudy injury)||12||23||7.6||0.473||0.3||2.4||5.5||1.1||0.2|
|Darren Collison (pre-Rudy injury)||33||29.6||12.8||0.47||0.404||1.9||4.3||1||0.1|
|Darren Collison (post-Rudy injury)||16||33.8||15.6||0.5||0.446||2.5||4||1.3||0.2|
|Matt Barnes (pre-Rudy injury)||38||24.9||7.3||0.378||0.319||4.8||2.7||0.7||0.3|
|Matt Barnes (post-Rudy injury)||16||26.3||8.6||0.395||0.343||7.1||2.8||0.7||0.3|
Aside from Kosta Koufos (who I didn’t include because he’s basically been consistent across the board), everyone has started to step up for this Kings team. It hasn’t just been DeMarcus Cousins having to do it by himself like it has in the past. If this team is really going to make it to the playoffs, they’re going to have to keep that up, especially when players start coming back from injury and the rotation gets thrown off again.
The Low Post
The NBA Trade Deadline is now less than a week away, and the more I think about it, the more I think the Kings might stand pat and not do much. The problem is simply Sacramento’s lack of assets. Before Rudy went down with injury, he was almost assuredly being traded. Now, there’s no chance of that happening.
The Kings are also stuck in the awkward position of still being in the playoff race, and as such, won’t necessarily be making any moves that might send out good players in return for better long term assets like draft picks. The Kings also don’t necessarily have the assets to make any big upgrades themselves for the playoff race.
Expiring contracts, once of great value, don’t mean as much in an era with such a large cap and shorter contracts. A player like Ben McLemore, who once might have tantalized another team, has played too poorly for too long (his recent hot streak notwithstanding) that his value in a trade would be minimal, especially given his free agent status this summer (he might even end up being an unrestricted free agent if the Kings don’t feel like spending $5.4 million on his qualifying offer).
The Kings do have some needs. They could use a real Power Forward to pair with Cousins for long stretches of time, and they still need a long-term answer at Point Guard (both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson will be free agents this summer).
But can they really find upgrades at those position in this trade market, with the assets they have? Perhaps, but the cost might be too high, especially if you throw promising young talent like Willie Cauley-Stein or Malachi Richardson or the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic in there.
One player that the Kings should be dangling in trades is Kosta Koufos. Koufos has been a solidly consistent roleplayer for us, but his long-term fit next to DeMarcus Cousins is questionable, and Willie Cauley-Stein is starting to come into his own. Koufos is on a very good contract and would help a lot of teams in need of skilled big defenders.
Still, I’ll be very surprised to see the Kings make any huge moves this week. A small one maybe.
View Poll From Section 214
Just have a quick question for you Kings fans, now that we’re at the All-Star break.
Kimani’s Photo of the Week
No shots from the home game this week, but here’s a pretty awesome one of Cousins defending against Embiid’s game-winning attempt earlier this season.
Highlight of the Week
Player of the Week
27.0 PTS, .500 FG%, .214 3P%, 10.0 REB, 7.0 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.0 BLK in 31.5 MPG
After seemingly being in a funk coming back from his one-game suspension last week, Cousins righted the ship this week in a big way. No techs, no heavy complaining (and the one time he did complain he was justified and got Buddy Hield ejected) and he carried the load for the Kings down the stretch in wins against New Orleans and Los Angeles. Against the Lakers in particular he was a tour de force in the paint. I still don’t understand why Luke Walton chose to have the Lakers guard him in single coverage most of the night, as that only tends to work when you have really good and big defenders like Marc Gasol or Andrew Bogut, not guys like Timofey Mozgov or Tarik Black.
Feb. 23rd is the NBA Trade Deadline at 12 p.m. Pacific
Feb. 23rd vs. Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 25th vs. Charlotte Hornets at 7:30 p.m.