The Sacramento Kings currently exist as geometric parts on a two-dimensional plane.
If Pablo Picasso were alive today, I wonder how would he visualize and portray this team. He once said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” I would imagine he would portray the players as separate disconnected objects on the court to make the point they are not, yet, unified as a team. They don’t fit together well.
That begs the question, ‘What makes a contending team?” A team is a reflection of its franchise. It is the collective brainchild of the owners, general manager, and coaching staff. Building a team is like building a military unit. It takes commitment, dedication, effective planning, adequate resources, and strong leadership. The ultimate goal is to win the NBA championship and to do everything toward that end.
Currently, the teams in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Western Conference Finals provide examples of what makes up a contender. These are not teams whose sole objective is to come out and entertain a crowd of fans for an evening of good fun. They are not the Harlem Globetrotters. These are teams who have their primary agenda to win. The fans are there to support the team; not the other way around. These teams didn’t come about by tinkering and happen chance. They came about through planning.
Currently, the Celtics are a veteran franchise. While their players are getting older, they still managed to get to the Eastern Conference finals because they work well together. The Miami Heat is no accident, either. The much ballyhooed melodramatic “The Decision” pulled together what was anticipated to be the most talented assemblage of NBA players on the planet, ever. Love them or hate them, the Miami Heat took some heat to bring this group together.
The Western Conference Finals has its own coveted teams. The Spurs is like a well-oiled machine, with the methodical precision and efficiency that comes over time. These players know each other exceedingly well. The Thunder comes in with its own version of youth, talent, and hunger to win. While there was some luck landing the number two draft pick, Kevin Durant, who went on to win Rookie of the Year, this has been a well-groomed field of confident young bucks looking to make their mark.
Sacramento needs to make the jump from the two-dimension team, composed of some nice pieces to become a three-dimensional competitive team, whose pieces work together in tandem. The problem is not so much the players. Sacramento has some very good players. The team needs to pick up more talent and better utilize the talent it currently has.
The primary problem lies with the owners of the team. Maloof Sports and Entertainment has become just that – an entertainment venue. They think of themselves as providing a product to put on the floor. There is no mission statement for the team. Their goal does not appear to be putting resources toward building a contending team. The franchise is severely hamstrung by the limited resources the Maloofs are willing or able to spend.
Right now, the franchise is a dysfunctional morass, whose owners have alienated a community. That clearly cannot bode well within the franchise walls. Until there is a fundamental change in the mindset of the owners, it is unlikely the team will make the quantitative leap anytime soon toward being the competitive team one would expect of an NBA team.