The Kings have a crop of young and exciting talent – all of which can score the ball. They remind me of the AAU team that you’d play against with a bunch of your white jewish buddies and they would just street-ball (yes, I made it a verb) the hell out of you and win the game by 50. But then 10 years down the line they’re still streetballers because they couldn’t put those skills to any use. The Kings can score the ball, there is no doubt about it. They’re in the top 10 in scoring with 100 a game, they have 6 guys who average double digits in scoring and they shoot 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. They are the epitome of a “Mike D’Antoni” team… Too bad he’s too busy ruining Kobe Bryant’s legacy in Los Angeles. Anyway, the Kings have all the firepower offensively that you could have without a guy who scores over 20 a game, but they play absolutely no D- sorry I forgot I’m not allowed to mention the D word around Kings fans… It’s Voldemort to them. The Kings are dead last in opponents points per game with 104.7. They are also 26th in opponents field goal percentage with 47% a game. So in terms of their future, here’s a message for the Kings organization: No matter how many top 10 draft picks you get, if you do not play defense you will not make the playoffs. I’m talking about Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Thomas Robinson, and Jimmer Fredette. It doesn’t matter who you have or if you play in Seattle or Sacramento, because you are going to be bad forever until you play D… sorry I forgot about the Sacramento rule.
To continue, the way that the team was put together was done poorly and that in turn directly affects the future of the Kings. According to anybody with eyes, they overpay 4 players. The first is Marcus Thornton who serves as their 6th man. He is averaging 13 points a game on 44% shooting from the field and 37% from three. He is an explosive scorer, no doubt, but to pay this guy 8 million dollars a year until 2015 for 13 points a game is absolutely senseless.
The second player is Jason Thompson who is averaging 11 and 7 in 28 minutes a game for Sacramento. He is getting paid 5.25 million this year and a total of 30.2 million until 2017. His contract is also backloaded, meaning he’ll be getting paid 6 million in 2014, 6.5 in 2015 and 6.8 in 2016. Once again, 30 million for 11 and 7 is… senseless.
The next is John Salmons who is the most likely candidate for the amnesty provision this summer. He is due 15 million over the next two years with a team option in 2014-15. The 32 year old guard is averaging 9 points a game in 30 minutes this season. That kind of contract for his kind of production is… I hope that you know what comes after the elipsis – sing it like the chorus of your favorite song! Loud and proud so the Kings can hear it.
The 4th player is Chuck Hayes who is due 17.2 million through 2014-15. Now, he is a very gritty low post defender and I have nothing bad to say about him but he is still overpaid. The stats won’t tell you much but for what his role is off the bench he really isn’t worth 5 or so million a year. So looking toward the future the Kings are held down by poor contracts that they are going to have to deal with.
Anyway, everybody is under contract for next season besides Tyreke (RFA), James Johnson (RFA), and Toney Douglas (RFA). I think Toney and James Johnson should be let go, because I think somewhere, somehow if they give Jimmer a legitimate chance to backup Isaiah then he’ll change some minds. James Johnson is very replaceable so the only one left to think about is Tyreke Evans. Now, who knows what teams will offer for Tyreke. He is coming off career lows in scoring, assists and rebounds this season but is somehow averaging a career high in both FG% (48) and 3 Point% (33). The Kings are destined for a 10 ten pick this year and there aren’t really any shooting guards with tons of potential minus the hype surrounding Mclemore. This off-season there aren’t many shooting guards besides him who are of his caliber. So if I’m the Kings I would offer the qualifying offer and if he rejects it I would match whatever offer is given. It may seem premature after I ranted about their copious amount of overpaid contracts but there is a definite lack of high caliber shooting guards in the NBA and his scoring touch and athleticism at the age of 23 is rare. On the other end, it’s hard to measure how much to give him because there is a confusion in the air about what direction the Kings are going in.
Cousins is clearly a very very talented center but his immaturities hold him back and he probably won’t be able to lead the Kings and be the franchise guy. That leaves Tyreke but frankly he isn’t playing like a possible franchise guy at the moment. So for now Demarcus is the main guy, but Tyreke could easily be the 2 in the 1-2 punch with Demarcus if that’s what the Kings are looking for. Both players have extreme potential to swing the franchise with their scoring prowess, and if the Kings do decide to build around these two then what they need are role players who can defend and a reliable bench. Demarcus, Tyreke, and defensive specialists in the starting lineup could do some damage. Then with an instant offense type of player off the bench and some other reliable scorers/defenders the Kings could turn their franchise around in a second.
The Kings will primarily have to build through the draft, as they are not an attractive destination for free agents. They just have to decide what it is they need, they need internal development and team defense above all – stuff that can be worked on without new additions. Talent is talent though, and the Kings don’t have enough to compete with the best in the West.
One of the rare bright spots that the Kings have is Demarcus Cousins and even he isn’t considered all that bright. He is a top 5 center talent wise with some outbursts that leaves everybody wondering why he isn’t an all-star. He is averaging 17 and 10 but he is very immature and a liability overall. He’s played three seasons in the NBA and has punched probably 5 guys, choked 2, and hit three guys in the nuts. So that’s him in a nutshell. The talent is undeniable but the Kings will have to either make him buckle down or move on to a new go to guy. Isaiah is also a great story, he was the 60th pick and is now averaging 13 a game and 3 assists. He’s very young and has room to improve.
All in all, the Kings biggest need is a direction. Who is going to be the guy they build around? They need some sort of structure to their team, right now they’re a group of overpaid scorers. The future is dim for the Sacramento Kings.