A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

NBA Franchise Power Rankings: #18 – Sacramento Kings

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Demarcus Cousins

Previous rankings:

#30 - Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)
#29 - Phoenix Suns
#28 - Denver Nuggets
#27 - Detroit Pistons
#26 - Milwaukee Bucks
#25 - Philadelphia 76ers
#24 - Houston Rockets
#23 - Portland Trailblazers
#22 - Toronto Raptors
#21 - Indiana Pacers
#20 - Atlanta Hawks 
#19 - Golden State Warriors

#18 – Sacramento Kings

Best assets: PF/C Demarcus Cousins (young, projects as borderline starter to legitimate all-star), 2012 SAC 1st, SG Tyreke Evans (young, projects as borderline to legitimate starter), PG Jimmer Fredette (young, projects as borderline to legitimate starter), 2013 SAC 1st, RFA SG Marcus Thornton (young, projects as borderline to legitimate starter), PF JJ Hickson (young, borderline starter), PF Jason Thompson (young, borderline starter), SF Donte Green (young, projects as bench player to borderline starter), C Hassan Whiteside (young, projects as non NBA player to borderline starter)

Bad contracts: SF John Salmons (3 years, 24 million), Francisco Garcia (3 years, 18.3 million)

Total Trade Value Ranking: #18

Financial Grade: B

Management Grade: C+

Overall synopsis: The Kings are one of the most “volatile” teams on this list. Meaning that I wouldn’t be surprised if they either rose to the top 10 or fell to the bottom 5 within a year. They are built on prospects who could either be extremely valuable or completely valueless soon. How does this list try to judge the Kings with that in mind? By valuing their assets with that in mind. A player like Demarcus Cousins is neither valued as much as a surefire star or as small as a future ‘get him off my team’ enigmatic headcase – but somewhere in the middle out of the possibility he goes in either direction. The fact that the Kings have the chance of these guys getting them and carrying them to a contending era puts them above a team like the Portland Trailblazers who at the moment, don’t appear to have any chance of hitting those heights anytime soon with Lamarcus Aldridge and very little else. Overall I believe the Kings are headed in the right direction, it’s just their headed into an ocean storm with a dinky motor boat. They might still get there… or they could be blown off and either drown or float back to the shore they started.

A team that Sacramento was hard to rank against was the Cleveland Cavaliers. True, Sacramento’s quantity of talent is higher with Evans, Cousins, Fredette, Thornton while Cleveland has just started its rebuilding with Kyrie Irving. But I can’t help but feel the Kings talent is like when you were painting a picture in elementary school and you painted one layer, then thought it looked bad so you slopped on another totally different color, then you put on another. Eventually it just has too much paint and the paint hue is brown and ugly and an inch off the page – and you’re like, can I have a new blank page please? I’d rather go down the Kyrie Irving and a relatively clean page, than the tulmulteous one with Evans and Cousins. At the same time, they have a clear advantage over Golden State and Atlanta behind them if only because their draft picks will be so much more valuable, giving a clear direction going forward. Here’s what the Kings have and my thoughts on their pieces:

Carrie from “Homeland” – Demarcus Cousins is all over the map. With his size and skill level, the guy should and might be unstoppable. But man. Talk about an enigma. My best guess for Cousins is that his career heads down the road of a Shawn Kemp before the drugs took over. All-star level caliber big man and a player Sacramento doesn’t regret picking, but at the same time, dangerously wild upstairs and preferrably not anything close to your lockerroom leader and not someone you want near your kids

The guy I’ve never liked – I’m going to get on my opinion soapbox here. Tyreke Evans is not a good basketball player. He’s as guilty of ballstopping as anyone and his ugly jumpshot and overwillingness to take it makes him an easy player to guard, just play off him and protect the rim. My nickname for him is the Executioner because he kills his team’s ball movement. On top of that, his attitude on the court makes you think he’s completley content with putting up a 25 point game in a 20 point loss. He’s a great ballhandler and has huge size, but I’ve been saying it since his college days – This guy had good stats bad team written on him as much as anyone I’ve seen. He was like Corey Maggette and Larry Hughes’ lovechild.

JIMMER! – I loved the Jimmer pick for the Kings. On one hand I do think picking a mid level PG in the top 10 in the draft is like drafting running back that high in the NFL, the gap over available solid PGs on the market doesn’t make it worth it. But the Kings desperately needed someone with Tim Tebow like leadership and character guy potential. As for his game, Jimmer’s ability to hit the 3 and to finish at the rim will give him a place in the NBA. His biggest criticism – lack of an explosive first step, is what’s become the easiest thing for PGs to do in the post handcheck era. With a good screen almost all PGs can get a step on their defender. What separates Jonny Flynn from Russell Westbrook is what they can do from there. I also think Jimmer’s speed is underrated. I think he’ll be good.

Last year’s breakout guy – RFA Marcus Thornton looked absolutely fantastic in his short stint with Sacramento, scoring 21.3ppg. The Kings have to decide whether signing him with Tyreke Evans and Jimmer in the backcourt is worth a big contract and whether he could be a classic case of a wing who lit it up on a bad team for a small sample size and got overpaid. I like Thornton – more than Evans actually. If Evans eventually makes his way out of town with his selfish play, I like the idea of a Jimmer Thornton backcourt.

Unnecessary headcases
– I don’t like the idea of JJ Hickson and Hassan Whiteside on this team. They likely won’t be strong enough contributers to change the Kings future, but a few more players who have a history of non team commitment and not entirely listening to the coach, isn’t the right pieces beside enigmas like Evans and Cousins

Available for a steal – Jason Thompson is a young player I’d be calling the Kings about, if I was an opposing GM. He has nice size, athleticism and skill and flashed 15 and 9 starting PF potential his first 2 years. With the Hickson acquisition he could be stuck for getting minutes. Don’t be surprised if some team acquires Thompson for cheap and gets a starting PF out of it

Finances/Management: Paul Westphal is a good coach who like Flip Saunders in Washington (and possibly soon, Rick Adelman in Minnesota), is just not meant for coaching young and immature players like he is a good veteran team. Then again, I’m not sure anybody is meant for coaching a team like the Kings. As for the management, Petrie had an outstanding run of pickups in the early 2000s building a contender, but has drafted players who completley lack that ball movement gene. Perhaps the “we need talent, period” strategy led to this but I find it interesting that like Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas, a GM who really should understand the dynamics of building a chemistry first team has gone in the complete other direction. Financially the Kings have a ton of capspace the next two years – enough that they’ll have to spend a lot to get up to the new raised cap floor. But I just can’t see any marquee free agent (from Marc Gasol and Nene in the next few weeks to Deron Williams and Dwight Howard next summer) actually signing in Sacramento. Resigning Samuel Dalembert will likely be even impossible with suitors like the Heat out there for him.

Next season:
The Kings should be awful. Without Samuel Dalembert at C their defense will likely go back to league worst level, and offensively their made of ball stoppers and shot jackers. Projected ORTG: 27th, projected DRTG: 24th, projected record per 82: 17-65 (In 66 Games: 14-52)

Either strongly upwards or strongly downwards depending on which direction Evans and Cousins go in value. I’ll split the difference and say they remain close to this spot.

Written by jr.

November 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm

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