Yes, it’s still the end of July. That means we’ve still got nearly three full months until the purple and black take the floor for a meaningful game. Many things can and still will happen when it comes to Western Conference rosters, Kings included. But with so much change taking place in the 2010 free agency, especially in the Western Conference…it’s got me thinking, where exactly are the Kings going to land?
The Kings were 14th out of 15th in the West last year, but I’m not sure that matters so much since the 2009/10 opening night depth chart has been more or less completely overhauled. Let’s take a look at the changes:
2009/10 opening night starting lineup:
PG – Tyreke Evans
SG – Kevin Martin
SF – Desmond Mason
PF – Jason Thompson
C - Sean May
By the end of the season, Tyreke Evans was the only constant in that opening night lineup. Mason was released. May was pushed to the end of the bench. Martin was injured and only played a handful of games before being traded to Houston. And Thompson was in and out of the starting lineup for most of the season.
Attempting to come up with the 2010/2011 Kings starting lineup right now would be nothing but speculation, so I wont attempt to try. But let’s look at the overhaul of the rosters from the start of last season to the start of the 2010/2011 season.
Incoming: DeMarcus Cousins (draft), Hassan Whiteside (draft), Samuel Dalembert (trade), Carl Landry (trade), Antoine Wright (free agent), and Pooh Jeter (free agent)
Outgoing: Spencer Hawes (trade), Andres Nocioni (trade), Kevin Martin (trade), Sergio Rodriguez (trade), Ime Udoka (free agent), Jon Brockman (trade)
Yes, you’ll notice I excluded a few players who played limited games/minutes since they weren’t really relevant to the conversation, but that’s a complete overhaul in a years time. Add into the fact that last years 25 win Kings:
A) had Kevin Martin miss half the season before being traded.
B) had Francisco Garcia miss nearly the entire season.
C) had two rookies, Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi along with second year players Jason Thompson and Donte Greene playing heavy minutes.
Essentially, I’m saying while the Kings won 25 games last year, a healthy King team wins 30 possibly? Maybe 33? A year older, a year improved, much more depth and size – it’s impossible to say the Kings haven’t improved. It’s just a matter of how much.
Many teams in the West’s lower half all have huge question marks going into this season. Is Yao Ming going to be healthy in Houston? Not only that, will he be effective? Will Zach Randolph and Memphis return to reality and realize Zach Randolph is their best player? What happens with the Hornets and Chris Paul? Will the Clippers stay healthy? What in the world is going on in the Bay with the Warriors? And of course, I didn’t forget the KAHHHHHHHHHHNNNNN experiment in Minnesota.
Then when you examine the upper half, there are just as many question marks. How will Utah do with Al Jefferson replacing Carlos Boozer? What about the Suns replacing Amare and Barbosa with Turk, Childress, and Warrick? How will the Spurs be, another year older and some Tony Parker being unhappy turmoil thrown into the mix?
The Kings will be better than the 14th seed in the West this year, but, how far do they take it?