To say the ’11-12 season was anything short of a bust for John Salmons might be a compliment. The former Miami Hurricane struggled in his return to the purple and black, only playing in career low 46 games; a season that was marred by injury and poor play.
In need of some stability at the small forward position, then coach Paul Westphal and current GM Geoff Petrie felt the point forward (if you will) would provide the desired consistency at the three, but unfortunately for Salmons and the Kings, the draft day trade was one of the worst in recent memory – at least in the current moment.
While some were happy to hopefully have some dependability at the three slot, many were highly opposed to the move – one because the Kings moved back in the draft, skipping over potential talent like Brandon Knight, two because Salmons’ game didn’t exactly mesh with the current Kings roster.
For Salmons, his game breeds effectiveness with the ball in his hands. When Salmons is playing at his highest level, it’s due to the fact that he’s in control of the rock – it allows him to see the floor, pass the ball, penetrate and even pull up on a dribble drive. Without the rock in his hands, Salmons becomes an extremely ineffective player, something you’d have hoped the Kings front office would’ve picked up on prior to his re-acquisition. Don’t believe me? Check his stats relative to his usage rates prior to his Sacramento return:
- 08-09 – (Sac, 18ppg, 47 FG%, 21.9 usage rate) (Chi, 18ppg, 47 FG%, 20.2 usage rate)
- 09-10 – (Chi, 12ppg, 42 FG% 18.1 usage rate) (Mil, 20ppg, 46 FG%, 22.7 usage rate)
- 10-11 – 14ppg, 41 FG%, 20.9 usage rate
- 11-12 – 7.5ppg, 40 FG%, 14.2 usage rate
While I’m one who firmly believe stats can lie, I’m hard pressed to think these aren’t telling a vast amount of truth. The eye test with Salmons is really all you need – the guy struggles to play off the ball, but can put up some pretty solid numbers when he’s in his point-forward mode. But with a significant amount of ball dominators already on the Kings roster with DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton (not to mention, Isaiah Thomas), you have to wonder where the fit for Salmons was.
If there was any saving grace for Salmons’ season, it was the final month where he turned around his poor play, resulting in a very solid March where he put up nearly 9 points a game on 51% shooting along with 2.5 assists and solid defense.
That all said, despite Salmons’ last resurgence, the majority of his season was beyond sub-par and it shows in his final grade. Here’s to a much improved ’12-13 season, but for now….
Season grade: D-