Stop me if you heard this before as a new era has begun in Sacramento Kings basketball. They will christen a new beautiful arena and don a new uniform design for the 2016-17 season.
The Kings have missed the playoffs for the last 10 seasons, and that streak doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. They have a franchise player in DeMarcus Cousins, but not much else on the roster. Plus, the situation is compounded by a meddling owner, whose comments often create unwarranted controversy.
The Kings are in quite a predicament as they should be in a full rebuilding mode, but that cannot happen with Cousins still in uniform for the franchise. It forces the front office to acquire good, but well-traveled talent each offseason and hope the roster jells enough to gain the eighth seed in the playoffs.
This past summer was no exception as out went Rajon Rondo, Quincy Acy and Seth Curry, in came Arron Affalo, Matt Barnes, Ty Lawson and Anthony Tolliver. Are the Kings playoff bound, it’s too early to tell but here are some key factors for the 2016-17 season.
Cousins is the Real Deal
The notion for years has been that Cousins would be put on the trading block at some point in the regular season, and each time when a deal appeared to be imminent, the Kings squelch any rumor of him leaving Sacramento. However, that window might be closing as the Kings could complete their roster overhaul in a possible Cousins trade. Let’s not forget that Cousins is a dominant force on both ends of a basketball court, and trading him could gain the Kings a mixture of talented young players and multiple high draft choices. Think of a package similar to what the Denver Nuggets received from the New York Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
Cousins is the best low-post scorer in the NBA as he averages 25 points and 12 rebounds per game. Quietly, he has developed a touch from the three-point line, shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc. His improvement has been aided by having Willie Cauley-Stein playing alongside him on the frontcourt. WCS is a terrific rim defender, which has allowed Cousins to expand his offensive game.
The Hiring of Joerger
The Kings hope that hiring Dave Joerger as their head coach will bring a fresh start to the franchise and put them back on the road to respectability. Thankfully, the George Karl Era came to a merciful end; Joerger is a no-nonsense head coach who believes defensive energy will create a winning culture in any toxic environment. This philosophy provided much success during his time in Memphis, now Joerger will try his hand with a roster that has underachieved for far too long.
Boogie Cousins is buying into the program and has made a concertive effort to defend in the preseason, but will that intensity continue in the regular season remains to be seen. Joerger is a good coach who can instill a winning formula in Sacramento, but it will tale some time before the franchise becomes NBA relevant once again.
One Too Many Centers
One of the goals this offseason by the Kings was to get younger through the draft and trades. They raised some eyebrows by acquiring Georgios Papagiannis via a draft day trade as the consensus felt he was selected way too early (eighth overall) in the first round.
It made no sense to add another center to a roster that already includes Cousins, Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufas. If the team fails to make a trade, the Kings will have devoted one-third of their roster to the center position. Pretty baffling philosophy, considering that the entire league has subscribed to a more guard-oriented look.