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
Over the past six or seven seasons it’s been obvious who the Kings most talented player has been: DeMarcus Cousins. There’s no denying his skill set has been unmatched by any of his teammates, and the closest players he’s had to fellow stars are Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas.
Now, we’re in a
tanking rebuilding phase and most of the talent from last season was shown the door in free agency or in trades. With the lack of upper-tier players on the roster, the difficult question to answer is, who will be the five best players on the Kings this season?
Here’s my ranking:
- George Hill
Hill is clearly the best player on the Kings and it’s not really close. The gap from George Hill to our second-best player is larger than the gap from DeMarcus Cousins to Rudy Gay last season, or from Rudy Gay to our third best player in the same era. He’s a third-tier starting point guard, not in the realm of Steph Curry or Russell Westbrook, and he’s below the likes of Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley, but he can easily compare to Jrue Holiday or Kemba Walker. Barring significant injury, which is a possibility with his history, George Hill will run away with the label of “best Kings player” when things wrap up this season.
2. Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield was the featured prize in the DeMarcus Cousins haul, and he was able to surprise pretty much every Kings fan with how effective he was last season. While with the Kings, he put up 15 points per game, the most since Tyreke Evans in a rookie season, and shot a scorching 43% from long distance while attempting almost six three-pointers per game. He’s not perfect, and his decision-making and defense leave something to be desired, but I fully expect Buddy to lead the Kings in scoring with 20+ PPG next year.
3. Garrett Temple
Temple was in the running for my number-two spot as his jack-of-all-trades skill set will be a huge boon to the squad in the coming campaign, but his lack of scoring power slid him slightly below Buddy for me. The 31-year old’s perimeter defense will be welcome to a team full of youth and inexperience, and his ability to consistently knock down shots will help as well. One concern for Temple is he will likely be slotted in at small forward for a large part of the year, and playing out of position will certainly harm his overall effectiveness.
4. Skal Labissiere
Skal is a top-three mystery walking into the season, along with fellow rookies Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox. I wouldn’t be shocked if our smaller half of the thin towers absolutely blew everyone out of the water in the coming year, and I also wouldn’t be too surprised if he struggled either. He possesses a ton of untapped potential, and I hope to see him wield some of those basketball powers in the coming months.
5. Willie Cauley-Stein
This was a tough one. When Willie is engaged and focused and aggressive, you can really see why he was the seventh overall pick in the draft. When he is spacey, doesn’t rebound, and is deservedly benched for long periods of time, he drive the sanest individual to insanity. Due to that inconsistency, I almost went with the steady, if unspectacular hand of Kosta Koufos, and Bogdan Bogdanovic almost made a surprise entrance into the foray, but in the end I’ll stick with the high ceiling of Willie putting some pieces together. He’ll be playing with the best point guard he’s ever been paired with in the NBA, and he’ll be playing for the same coach and the same playbook for the second year in a row. I hope that Cauley-Stein can establish himself as the go-to starting center of our core.
Just for fun, here’s the rest of my rankings without detailed explanations:
6. Bogdan Bogdanovic
7. Kosta Koufos
8. De’Aaron Fox
9. Vince Carter
10. Justin Jackson
11. Zach Randolph
12. Malachi Richardson
13. Frank Mason III
14. Harry Giles
15. Georgios Papagiannis
What about you? Where do you agree with me? How would you rank the Kings current roster differently?