Henry Abbot of ESPN touched on this earlier today, but, the point remains – one year ago (almost to the day), the Kings were sitting pretty with a 13 and 14 record. Tyreke Evans looked to be the second coming, making guest appearances at church nativity scenes all over the greater Sacramento area and the Kings stole their small forward of the future, Omri Casspi, with the 23rd selection in the draft.
The NBA schedule makers did their best to put coal in the Kings Christmas stocking, pitting them against the Lebron James lead Cavilers on December 23rd and the Kobe Bryant led Lakers the day after Christmas. And while the Kings dropped both of those games, they forced the Cavs into a double OT game and the Lakers into a single OT with hard nosed, gut wheeled, passion filled play. The Kings weren’t expected to win, but son of a bitch they gave it their all. It wasn’t their fault they were out-talented…it sure didn’t seem that way. They had heart. They had passion. They had fire. If there was ever a way to be proud of losing, that was it. They went toe to toe with the Grade A beef of the NBA. They took punch after punch from Lebron James and Kobe Bryant on the chin, and promptly gave them right back. How could you not be excited about a squad like that?
Now almost a year to the day that the Cavs came rolling into Arco Arena, the Kings are floundering. Bad. Sure, they “lucked” out into getting DeMarcus Cousins with the fifth selection in the NBA Draft, but he appears a few years away from coming into his own. Tyreke Evans has proven to be human with two nagging foot/ankle injuries and projected starters in Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, and Omri Casspi have struggled to find their roles. Carl Landry, admitting that the pressure of a new contract has been running laps in his mind continues to play below average basketball and new acquisition Samuel Dalembert hasn’t provided the defensive influence many hoped he would. As Abbot points out, since those fantastic Christmas week duels last year, the Kings have played 80 games. They’ve won 17.
Rumors continue to mount about relocation for the Kings and for those without a foot in the sandbox, it’s hard to see how the Kings can continue to remain in Sacramento without an extremely quick turn around. The Sacramento area has been devastated in the current economic crisis and combined with the Kings lack luster play, fan support is at an all time low. It’s just bad, bad, bad – all around.
The Kings aren’t going to win any awards for high quality talent on their roster, but, are they as bad as their record indicates from a pure talent perspective? I might be looking through some purple tinted glasses, but, I don’t think they are…
Whatever the case, the Kings world had been turned upside down in the last year. They’ve went from one of the more promising squads in the NBA to…well, I’m not even sure how to describe this current cast of characters.
They’ve been playing better lately, no doubt. But the wins continue to escape them and it seems the Kings thrive on finding new and odd ways to lose.
But with that all said, the Kings still have time to fix this mess. The season might be a wash in terms of wins and losses, and while you wont make the playoffs alone on hard work and passion, you still can win back the hearts of King fans.
Can you save our Christmas, Kings?
It’s all we ask.