The Sacramento Kings (25-57) were never in the mix last season as they finished fifth in the Pacific Division and 14th in the Western Conference. However, their record belies just how interesting this team was in 2009-2010. Overall, the Kings showed some marked improvement, offered us an exciting rookie and hosted an exciting comeback. This year, the club should show more improvement due to the addition of more young talent.
The power forward position is one of the more interesting ones on this team. The Kings will start Carl Landry (.536 FG%, .333 3PT%, .806 FT%, 5.9 RPG, 0.8 APG, 16.8 PPG), who is going into his fourth NBA season. Landry, who was traded by Houston partway through last season, is an expert scorer and a fine post player. He can hit the mark from just about anywhere.
In addition to Landry, Sacramento welcomes rookie DeMarcus Cousins to the power spot. Cousins has some gifts, but he also possesses some attitude problems. He brings fine footwork, soft hands and low-post scoring potential. He can also connect from mid-range and grab rebounds with aplomb.
Center Samuel Dalembert (.545 FG%, .000 3PT%, .729 FT%, 9.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 8.1 PPG) comes to the Kings from the Sixers. The eight-year vet has some fine tools. He’s a very good rebounder, being ranked fourth in the league and an accomplished shot blocker, coming in ninth amongst centers. Although he brings a decent mid-range shot and can ably drive to the basket, Dalembert doesn’t have the strength to command and score in the post.
Last season was small forward Omri Casspi’s (.446 FG%, .369 3PT%, .672 FT%, 4.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 10.3 PPG) first in the NBA. Casspi, from Israel, seemed right at home on the Kings’ court. Overall, he proved to be a keen shot, especially from downtown, a good ball handler and a solid rebound man. He needs to bulk up and increase his stamina.
In the backcourt, rookie Threke Evans (.458 FG%, .255 3PT%, .748 FT%, 5.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, 20.1 PPG) revealed that he could play in the NBA. The league’s Rookie of the Year was an avid shooter, tough rebounder and solid passer. However, the Kings seem content with allowing him to rule the roost and that type of privilege usually leads to trouble on and off the court. Along with giving him special treatment, head coach Westphal didn’t seem to care that Evans decided as the season progressed to stop playing defense.
The point is manned by Beno Udrih (.493 FG%, .377 3PT%, .837 FT%, 2.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 12.9 PPG). Udrih, now in his seventh season, put up his best numbers last year. He has a fine mid-range jumper and is an accomplished pick-and-roll man. Udrih is weak as both a defender and long-range shooter.
The team pushed the ball up the floor, coming in with a Pace Factor of 96.7 (6th). However, that translated into missed shots as the club was 22nd in Offensive Efficiency with a mark of 102.4. The best thing this club did was they took down offensive rebounds at the rate of 28.2%, which was sixth in the NBA. The player with the best PER was Carl Landry at 19.02. On defense, the Kings had a Defensive Efficiency of 107.2, which was 21st in the league.
Paul Westphal (292-216) came on board last season as the team’s new coach. From 1993-1996 he coached the Phoenix Suns and from 1999-2001 he was coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. In both of his previous coaching stints, he was fired partway into the season. It will be interesting to see how this coaching opportunity works out for him. The one thing that Westphal has a reputation for is developing young talent. He looks to be in the right place. That is if he figures out how to deal with Evans.
Here’s the deal with the Sacramento Kings—they are not a franchise focused on winning. In fact, they don’t seem to have a plan for such. The Kings are happy enough to keep adding pieces through the draft or via a trade or two. The team still has $14 million in salary cap cash available but don’t hold your breath. Chances are they are not going to spend it. There is some good to consider in the likes of young talents such as Evans and Cousins. This team moves up a notch, finishing fourth in the Pacific Division and 12th or 13th in the Western Conference.
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