PACE: #3 98.0
OFFENSE: #26 100.6
DEFENSE: #20 106.3
After being one of the powerhouse teams in the early 2000’s, the Kings have been one of the most consistently bad teams in the league over the last years. For the third consecutive season, they failed to reach the 30-wins mark and that’s a good testament of how bad the Kings have been.
After winning the rookie of the year award, the Kings relied heavily in Tyreke Evans to be the face of the franchise but unfortunately, Evans couldn’t produce in the same high level of his rookie season. After shooting a respectable mark of 45.8% from the field, Evans regressed to shoot just 40.9% FG. However, he dealt with plantar fasciitis all season long and as we know, he is the type of player that needs all his explosiveness to produce because he isn’t a good long range shooter. He was one of the biggest reasons for the Kings' worst offensive season in the last 20 years.
The Kings ranked in the bottom five in turnover rate, 3-point percentage, mid-range shooting percentage and free throw percentage. The only thing that they did right was pursuing the offensive board: they were the best offensive rebounding team of the league by grabbing almost 30% of their missed shots. They had five guys -- Samuel Dalembert (12.4 percent), DeMarcus Cousins (10.5), Darnell Jackson (10.3), Carl Landry (10.0) and Jason Thompson (9.4) -- who grabbed at least nine percent of available offensive boards when they were in the game. By putting so many players near the basket, the Kings were obviously a good scoring team in the paint (ranked #3 with 45.1ppg) and they finished well at the rim by hitting 66.1% of the shots – 7th best mark in the league.
Despite having a loaded frontcourt, the Kings were an awful interior defensive team! 2nd worst team in points in the paint allowed with 46.0ppg and dead last in FG% allowed at the rim – they were the only team allowing more than 70% of the shots at the rim – 70 PERCENT!
Every franchise would love to start the roster around a good backcourt player and a dominant big player and the Kings potentially have these pieces in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, who had a problematic rookie season with innumerous problems in and off the court. Head Coach Paul Westphal didn’t help because his role on the team was uncertain the whole season, but obviously Cousins didn’t seem to show the right work ethic and this could hurt his development as a player. He showed some glimpses of being a dominant center, but at the same time he shot 43% from the field, led the league by a large margin in fouls committed per game with 4.1 pf/game and only Dwight Howard committed more turnovers per game than him of all the frontcourt players of the league. Cousins has the potential to be a cornerstone of the franchise or another disappointing high draft pick, the outcome will depend on his work ethic.
Because they were such a bad perimeter offensive team, the Kings felt the urgency to address this problem. They re-signed Marcus Thornton who enjoyed a nice stint with the Kings in the second half of the last season while averaging 21.3 points per game & shooting 45% from the field. As a Kings player, Thornton boosted his assists numbers to 3.4 apg which was nice to see because he is primarily a one-dimensional player, so if he can improve his all around game, the Kings will have a serviceable player in him.
Drafting Jimmer Fredette was another step for the Kings’ plans to improve their outside shooting however like Thornton, Fredette could be a liability on the defensive end, so Paul Westphal should be aware of his rotations on the backcourt.
My biggest concern for the Kings this season is centered on their frontcourt. We already know how terrible defensively they were last season and for this season they basically lost Samuel Dalembert and signed J.J. Hickson and Chuck Hayes. J.J. Hickson showed last season why LeBron James is a great player because Hickson offensive numbers weren’t nowhere close to the numbers he had when James was in Cleveland. However his defense or lack of it was a bigger problem last season and I don’t know if he will help the Kings to not be the worst interior defensive team of the league this season. Chuck Hayes is a serviceable player despite his lack of size and his good hands and court vision will help the team ball movement, however will he be enough for the Kings?! NOTE: Hayes saw his contract being nullified as he didn’t pass the physical exams, so my concern about the Kings for this season just got bigger…
John Salmons is back to Sacramento and he will likely be the oldest starter of the team. After a great second half season with the Bucks in 09-10, Salmons heavily struggled last season and he was part of the worst offensive team of the league. The Kings have such a young roster that Salmons’ influence will be huge in a leadership role.
The Kings are one of the youngest teams of the league this season and this can be a good thing in a short schedule season. However in my opinion, the immaturity of their players will be a huge factor this season. They will deliver a big effort in a certain day and lay a big egg on the next one. I don’t think that the Kings will hang around for a playoff spot, but if they are well managed, they have the talent to be competitive against any opponent, but unfortunately the effort won’t be there for every game.