Monday, June 25, 2012

S.O.T.T. - Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings are in a strange place.  

For all intents and purposes, they had a great rebuilding season.  While former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans failed to improve, DeMarcus Cousins made a huge leap upwards, averaging 18 and 11 on 45 percent shooting.  Marcus Thornton solidified himself as a bona fide NBA scorer (18.5 ppg), and made the most of his minutes as the team’s starting shooting guard.  They managed to stumble into a nice point guard option with Isiah Thomas, who overachieved as the final pick of the 2011 draft.   They also found a long-term solution at coach, with Keith Smart winning over his players and the Kings’ passionate fan base with his affable style and high octane offenses.  Yet, the Kings have a lot of work to do.  They allowed 104.4 points per game – the worst defense in the league – while failing to reach 100 points per game themselves.  They were the league’s second worst three point shooting team at 31%, and, perhaps most troublingly, second to worst in the league in attendance.  This is an important statistic, given the King's tenuous prescence (and the Maloof's tenuous financial reputation) in California’s capitol city.

The Kings will have to rely heavily on the draft to reload their talent during this offseason.  Most of the Kings’ players are under contract for next season, though Tyreke Evans is eligible for an extension.  Whether or not they pick up his option will be a good indicator of their plans for Reke, and whether they will be searching for his potential replacement in the draft.  Favorably, there are no untradeable contracts on the Kings (their highest paid player is John Salmons, who is due around $8 million per year over the next four years), so they have a roster that can be pretty easily modified if the numbers match up.  GM Geoff Petrie has given himself a bit of room to retool the roster, but he's got a fairly slim margin of error.

Here is the problem with the Kings (as well as other teams with good individual talent but little team leadership or chemistry): It is hard to know which players on the Kings are surefire starters on a competent NBA team, and which players simply put up numbers on a bad team with lots of available minutes.  With the exception of Cousins and Reke, most of the rest of the Kings starting lineup of Thomas, Thornton and Jason Thompson would be riding the pine on a playoff team.   

As such, with the fifth pick in the draft, the Kings should simply select the best player available, regardless of position.  Every spot in the rotation should be considered open, and no player on that team (with the exception of Cousins) should be deemed untouchable.

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