Yesterday, we here at A Royal Pain covered part one of the three part Sacramento Kings season preview and today, we give you part two. The shortest of the three parts, we focus on five key people within the Sacramento Kings organization for the upcoming season. Our three part series will end tomorrow as we cover the Kings strengths, weaknesses and overall season projections.
- Name the top five people in the organization, whom you like and your reason why you like/ respect them:
- Isaiah Thomas - Name one thing negative about Thomas…you can’t. He busted his ass to go from a second round pick to future building block. On the court, he’s a stud on both ends and plays the kind of energetic basketball Kings fans love to see. To top it off, Thomas went to bat for Sacramento, attending the city hall meeting to show his support for the new arena. He’s the type of player and man who is easy to admire.
Bobby Jackson - Yeah, it’s a cop out, but who can forget Bobby J’s relentless work ethic during the Kings glory years. While providing the only remaining link to those great days, Jackson is bringing the same tireless effort to his role as assistant coach.
- Jason Thompson - JT is just a great young man, and his vastly improved play on the court makes him even easier to like. The Kings plucked Thompson out of a small school, he’s been through a ton of change, yet he’s formed a great bond with the community, and Kings fans love guys who leave it all on the court.
- Marcus Thornton - For the same reason many may look down on Thornton, I like him. Thornton has no qualms about taking the big shot, or any shot for that matter. He’s got that swagger that I like on the court. Not to mention he’s a terrific offensive player at just 25 years of age.
- Keith Smart - I’m cool with Keith. I respect him and think he’s doing everything he can to turn this around. You’re never going to agree with every decision made by a coach, but Smart’s intentions are never in question. All he knows is hard work, and he’s clearly formed a solid bond with many players on the team.
- DeMarcus Cousins - The best player on the team, and still the biggest project. DeMarcus Cousins has long been my favorite player, not just because of the potential he has, but because everyone in the NBA wants to see him fail. This will be a special season for DMC, a chance to prove all the skeptics wrong and make the All Star Game.
- Isaiah Thomas - I have an incredible amount of respect for Isaiah Thomas, and all he has already overcome. Coming into the draft last year, he was ignored by 29 teams because he was too small. The Kings took a chance on him with the last pick, and it paid off in a big way. Thomas worked hard for every minute, than with strong performances off the bench, he eventually earned the starting gig. “IT” ran away with the gig and finished the season as one of the top rookies. Now entering his 2nd season with a full Training Camp and Pre Season, this could be a great year for Thomas
- James Johnson - I am hoping this season James Johnson has a coming out party defensively. When he was traded to Sacramento, the trade went without much fan fare. While Johnson will never wow you with the highlight dunk or deep three, he wears his heart on his sleeve-playing defense. He will outhustle anyone on the court for a loose ball, or reach out for a dunk. I have a huge amount of respect for James Johnson, because he is what I love about the NBA.
- Tyreke Evans - Tyreke Evans could move his way up this list if his new dedication to the game pays off on the court. We all know about the reports of Evans working out with Geoff Petrie in the offseason, and recommitting himself to the game and getting better. I respect the work he has put in, especially after some serious struggles the past 2 seasons. I just want to see him turn it around on the field, and prove to the fans and management he is worth a contract extension. Tyreke has talent; he showed it in his rookie season, now he needs to come back with it this year.
- Keith Smart - After Paul Westphaul was fired early in the season, I was afraid the available coaching options would be college-coaching scraps at best. Then it was announced former Golden State Warriors coach Keith Smart would be promoted to be our coach. I was happy for the first time in awhile, after numerous bad hires. While Smart may not excel in any one area, he is a players coach. While that may not mean as much for other teams, it is a big deal when you have guys like DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans on the team. Smart has built a relationship with these players, and we finally have a coach who half the team doesn’t want fired. While there is more to admire in Keith Smart, his relationship with the players is enough for me.
DeMarcus Cousins – I list him first because DeMarcus is the face and future of the franchise. He has the potential to be one of the very best players in the league. He is the kind of guy you want to pay to see.
- Isaiah Thomas - is right up there, as a fan favorite. He shows that determination, hard work, and a positive attitude will help one succeed in anything. In short, he is an inspiration, in addition to being a very exciting basketball player.
- Jerry Reynolds – Sacramento Kings director of player personnel and color commentator, is a very likeable person. He is an unassuming man, with an astute eye for player talent and the tact to know how to express it.
- Keith Smart brings in a breath of fresh air. He works well with his young unit. He talks to players to help raise them up and bring the best out of them.
- Other notables include former players, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bobby Jackson.
- DeMarcus Cousins - I’ve been a fan of Cousins before he was ever drafted by Sacramento – the fact that he was, was simply icing on the cake. I’m not blind to the fact that at times, Cousins, like so many others, can have head shaking moments but he’s nothing like the monster much of the media attempts to portray him as. He’s a kind hearted individual who spends as much time working at local children hospitals as he does on a basketball court. I, for one, am glad to call Cousins a Sacramento King despite what others outside of Sacramento might say.
- Isaiah Thomas - Much like Cousins, Thomas’ heart is made of gold. Isaiah is nothing short of a treasure – a fantastic player on the court but an even better person off it. Vary rarely have I ever felt proud to say a player plays on my team, but in Thomas’ case – I’d shout it from the mountain tops.
- Keith Smart - You’re never going to have a fan base in unison when it comes to the head coach, but I really like what Smart has brought to the Kings organization. For a franchise that was so unstable, Smart has done his best to put a foundation in place and with so many young, talented players, it was no small task. And while he wont ever win awards for his X’s and O’s, his ability to manage players is a welcome change from coaches of the recent past.
- Bobby Jackson - Bjax was a fan favorite of mine during his playing days and nothing has changed as he’s morphed into Coach Jackson. A competitor in the truest definition of the word, Jackson brings a lighthearted nature to the Kings – from rookie pranks to working with players beyond the court, Jackson’s coaching is a very beneficial asset to this young squad. But it’s more than just fun and games as Jackson’s work ethic is second to none and players know it and respect it.
- Tyreke Evans - Say what you will about Evans, but Reke is a good guy. Maybe he’s not the face of a franchise type – but he’s a damn good player, despite the fact that sometimes I think he needs to realize just how talented he is. I really hope for both he and the fans sake, this is the year that Evans turns that much needed corner. We’re all rooting for him.
Stay tuned for part two and part three of A Royal Pain’s 2012-2013 Sacramento Kings preview tomorrow, as well as our individual player previews, coming in the next few days.