Hardwired for Sports

2017 Preview: Sacramento Kings

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 7: Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson and Skal Lubissiere of the Sacramento Kings poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA rookie photo shoot on August 7, 2016 at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Kings are an interesting team in the NBA because they have a couple of pieces that you would expect to be on successful teams, starting with DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie is one of the premier centers in the league, and is a difference maker in every game. Along with him, Rudy Gay is another player who would be a serviceable starter on just about every team. Although Gay is firmly on the trading block, he currently still resides on the roster. With those two together, the Kings will probably finish around 30 wins again this season, but I anticipate the team ending with a drastically different roster than the one it currently possesses.

2015-2016 Record: 33-49

Roster Breakdown

Starting Lineup: Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Rudy Gay, Willie Cauley-Stein, DeMarcus Cousins

For most NBA teams, only Gay and Cousins are starters, which is a problem. Cauley-Stein, Collison, and Afflalo would all be solid options as back-ups, but in Sacramento they are being thrust into roles that they are not equipped to handle. Due to this, the overall depth of their starting lineup is extremely limited. Cousins is a superstar and even he cannot carry this team to a .500 record. In regards to this season, I doubt that Gay is still on the Kings when the trade deadline passes, so the rebuilding process in Sacramento is far from over.

Key Reserves: Matt Barnes, Omri Casspi, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis

In regards to that rebuilding process, there are five solid pieces to build a future with. First off, DeMarcus Cousins has tremendous trade value due to his star power. It will not exactly be a popular decision to move him, but in the long run, they could receive some incredible assets for him. In the same boat as Cousins, Rudy Gay could yield some solid young talent in a trade. The fact that he is yet to be traded is unsettling, but I think that deal could still happen. Other than acquiring players/picks through trade, WCS, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson are all incredibly young and will have the opportunities to play big minutes early in their careers. That should bode well for their futures and hopefully they can grow as a unit and become a talented team in a few years. For this season, however, their best bench players are Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi, who are proven as talented shooters off the bench. In a league being dominated by the deep threat, having veteran shooters spattered throughout a roster cannot be a negative.

Strengths

Offense. This team ranked third in the league in points per game last season as well as finishing in the top ten for FGM, FGA, and FG%. This is in large part to the pace they play at and the contributions of Gay, Cousins, and Rondo. Rondo’s ability to distribute the ball will be missed this season (as he is now a member of the Chicago Bulls), and that should have an impact on their production, but I expect their offense to still put up numbers around the star power of Boogie.

Weaknesses

Defense. Yup, as good as the Kings were on offense, they were quite the opposite on defense. They finished at the absolute bottom of the NBA in points allowed per game, and ranked in the top 10 in only one team defensive category (turnovers created). Without adding any major defensive pieces, this will not change for this season. They can hope that WCS becomes a better defender at the PF/C slot with his increased minutes, but I doubt it makes a major difference. To put it simply, it will be hard not to score on the Kings this year.

2016-2017 Prediction

The Kings didn’t do anything to help themselves this season, but I don’t think they hurt themselves much either. As long as Boogie remains the focal point of the team, I think they will finish somewhere around 30 wins. However, it is very difficult to predict where they end up because of the trades that are expected to be made include some of their key players. But, I would put their range at about 27-32 wins.

Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
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