With ownership settled, Kings moving Forward
Nobody really expected much from a young Kings team last season, but the team still managed to fall under what modest expectations there were for the club and this cost coach Keith Smart and general manager Geoff Petrie their jobs.
First-round pick (#5-overall) Thomas Robinson just wasn’t a good fit and didn’t even last the season in the California capital and was dealt to the Houston Rockets in February.
What was the biggest problem last season? Well, defence or complete lack thereof.
The Kings finished dead last in opponent’s points per game, opponent shooting efficiency and defensive rebounding.
On the bright side, the ownership situation is finally settled in Sacramento with a highly tought of ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive keeping the team in town. The uncertainty was hanging over this team for far new long so it's nice to finally turn that page.
The new owners also brought in Mike Malone from Golden State to coach and Pete D'Allesandro from Denver as the new GM so the front office is set and ready to move forward.
Who's In/Who's Out
Key Additions: Greivis Vasquez, Luc Mbah a Moute, Carl Landry, Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum, Coach Mike Malone, GM Pete D'Allesandro
Key Losses: Tyreke Evans, Cole Aldrich, James Johnson, Toney Douglas
Though it’s not any sort of a tangible thing that can be measured, the mood around the team has changed immeasurably now that the team is officially staying in Sacramento. The spectre of the club moving to Seattle hung over the heads of everybody at the team last year and, with a new ownership group in place that includes Shaquille O’Neal, the team can get back to focusing on on-court matters.
The keys to the Kings car have been handed over to new general manager Pete D’Alessandro and longtime NBA assistant coach, Mike Malone, who was most recently with the Golden State Warriors. Malone, son of former Toronto Raptors coach Brendan, is highly respected league-wide and was voted top assistant in the league by a panel of GMs.
The Best in the West?
Just Keep Improving
Another Trying Season
They're Not Last
Playing For 2014-15
Malone ran practices last season for the Warriors and is considered to be one of the brightest defensive minds in the game right now. He will have his work cut out for him in instilling a strong, defensive ethic in his young team, but he will certainly have a talented crew to work with this season.
The Kings could have a potential embarrassment of riches at point guard with incumbents Isiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette, as well as the newly acquired Greivis Vasquez. Thomas, heading into his third season, had 13.9 PPG last year and the Kings hope that the arrival of Vasquez, who is coming off of a breakout year himself (13.9 PPG and 9.0 APG with New Orleans,) will stimulate competition for the starting spot.
Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore, taken seventh-overall out of Ohio State, will split time at shooting guard to make up what is potentially a very speedy backcourt.
Of course, the fortunes of the Kings will ultimately ride on DeMarcus Cousins. One of the more talented young centres in the game, the question has never been about talent when it comes to the former Kentucky man. Cousins has yet to show the type of maturity in his young career that would warrant the full backing of the management and coaching staffs to truly view him as a franchise player.
If Cousins can demonstrate that he’s learned from his previous petulance and grow as a professional, the leader of this young Kings core has the potential to evolve into a premier player in the NBA.
The Not So Good
Despite their formidable size in the front court, the Kings were absolutely atrocious defensively and in defensive rebounding. They were 29th in opponents points per possession and dead last in defensive rebound percentage. That reflects a lack of hustle which isn't something you want to hang your hat on.
Malone will not transform this team defensively overnight and there will likely be significant growing pains in the process.
On top of the defensive woes that require addressing, poor shot selection hurt the team last and must be corrected. Despite finishing 10th in the league in points for, the Kings were only 19th in field goal percentage.
Though emerging as a force in the paint, Cousins shot under 45% from the floor last season and needs to significantly up that. Both Thomas and Vasquez were in the lower echelon of point guards in field-goal percentage, as well. As a team, this area needs to be improved significantly if the Kings want to even be in the playoff conversation.
One other thing to watch out for is Vasquez’s ankle. He had offseason surgery and, while considered healthy now, it was a nagging concern last year and there’s always the change of recurrence.
What To Expect
The Kings are not going to contend for the playoffs this season.
This year will be more about the new front office getting a feel for which players they like and want to build around for the future. The only player that seems to be a sure bet to remain a centrepiece in Sacramento right DeMarcus Cousins. We'll see if McLemore or anyone else can join him by the end of the season.
Near the bottom of the West is where the Kings will finish.