Today we present to you the final installment of our Sacramento Kings season preview. While we covered topics like best defender, most clutch and more in our initial preview and our five most important/favorite players to the Kings franchise in our second, we close the series with our overall views on the team and their upcoming season.
Despite this closing the team season preview, we’ll explore each individual player in the coming days so make sure to return for our individual previews.
On to part three of A Royal Pain’s 2012-13 season preview:
- Strengths of the team:
- Scott – Clearly, rebounding should be a huge strength for this team. Led by Cousins and Thompson, the Kings were 10th in the NBA in rebounding last season (buoyed by a lot of offensive board opps). The team added one of the best collegiate rebounders in the nation in Robinson, has Chuck Hayes lurking in the background and guards like Evans who rebound extremely well for their position. The Kings versatility is another strength. Several players have the ability to play multiple positions, and the addition of James Johnson, another across-the-board contributor, will only help the team give opponents a variety of lineup looks.
- Matt - The biggest strength for this Sacramento Kings team has to be their ability to get to the glass and get rebounds. The team finished last season 10thin the NBA in rebounds
per game, and now they have a chance to do even better. Thomas Robinson won’t start right away, but he showed late in the summer league that he can go crazy on the boards. There are legitimate concerns about allowing opponents to get boards; I think that will change this year. When you combine Robinson with Jason Thompson, an even more improved DeMarcus Cousins along with some other good big men. All together it is a terrific group that will find themselves amongst the best when it comes to rebounding.
- Marilyn – So far as talent goes, the individual team players are better than their Win – Loss record of last season would indicate. This is a young team, with ample room grow.
- Bryan – Much like all above, rebounding should be the Kings biggest strength this year. With ample size and athletic ability on the front line (not to mention a backcourt who doesn’t mind going into the trees) the Kings shouldn’t be out-rebounded too often this year. If they are – it’s a lack of effort, not a lack of size.
- Weakness of the team:
- Scott - The small forward spot is still a key area of weakness. It would be nice to see Johnson step up and command the position, but the 3-spot is flooded with mediocre talent — John Salmons, Francisco Garcia and Travis Outlaw return after woefully poor years. Perimeter shooting is also a question mark. The Kings were 29th in three-point percentage last season, and while the addition of Aaron Brooks should help, guys simply need to start making shots or it will be a long year from behind the arc.
- Matt - The biggest weakness for this team all comes down to defense, although it is unfair to call it that when you don’t play any. The Sacramento Kings led the league last year in points allowed, with 104.4 PPG. It was an aggravating site for every Kings fan, especially when our team already had issues getting the ball in the net. Even with a healthy Francisco Garcia, and bringing in James Johnson, the Kings will still struggle on defense.
- Marilyn - As good as the talent is; these guys have not had a lot of time to play together as a team. Working together as a team unit is critical if they hope to make a serious dent in the win – loss category.
- Bryan - Ugh, there are so many problem areas that could be addressed here. I’d like to hope the Kings will be a better defensive team, but even with progression they’re still going to be sub-par at best. With a young team, it’s par for the course, but you can only hope to see some growth as it’s just as much mental as it is physical. The Kings also need to improve their field goal percentage. As DeMarcus Cousins went, so did the Kings as they improved to a top 10 team post All-Star break, so getting out of the gate is important unlike last year where they ranked near the bottom pre-break.
- Concerns for this season:
Scott - Yet another offseason passed and the team still failed to address the need for a true, talented, veteran leader. Guys like Hayes and Francisco Garcia are complementary leaders — they can talk the talk and both contributions are appreciated. But the team needs a veteran presence who steps up with the game on line, directs traffic and has the respect of the many young players on the team. The Kings have players who can develop into that role, namely Thomas, but nobody like that is on the roster yet.
- Matt -As if the Kings didn’t already have issues, the NBA had to pile onto them with the 2nd toughest schedule. In 2011 the Kings played well against playoff teams (wins against the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder). Even with the success against quality teams last year, it will be difficult for the Kings to repeat that success this season. A tough schedule, bad defense and a lack of talent could create a mega disaster in 2012.
- Marilyn - The biggest concern I see for the team is the relocation question. The season could be marred with rumors and organized efforts by fans to keep the team in Sacramento and influence outsiders. I suspect it will be very hard to insulate the players with the political climate surrounding the franchise.
- Bryan - Youth, honestly. The Kings are such a young team, void of any on-floor leaders who can not only talk the talk – but walk the walk. As much as I respect guys like Hayes and Garcia for trying to be the leaders, as Scott said – this team needs a different, more inspired voice from their fellow players. Growing pains suck – and the Kings weren’t given any favors in terms of their schedule which not only is difficult in terms of record, but very oddball in terms of actual schedule as there are extreme extended home and away trips.
- Pick five words to describe this team:
- Scott - Inexperienced, unpredictable, energetic, hardworking, versatile
- Matt - Boogie, effort, rebound, underdog and SACRAMENTO
- Marilyn - Young, athletic, hungry, confident and energetic.
- Bryan – Exciting, loose, unexpected, students and family, as Keith Smart would say.
- Scott - The Kings bring back the same core of young, talented players that has fans excited about the future. Unfortunately, the front office failed to add significant complements, and it’s hard to hide the frustration of the team signing just one free agent (Brooks) and adding just one other player via trade (Johnson). As it stands, this team is still probably not ready to compete for the Western Conference playoffs. There will again be moments of excitement and clear signs of growth. But with a roster full of youth, the nights of frustration will still linger. It’s encouraging that Coach Smart has the respect of the players, and the guys have formed clear chemistry. And the amount of pure talent on the team – from Evans to Cousins to Thomas – always provides hope for fast improvement. Kings fans just have to hope the light goes on quickly. I’ll put the Kings as the 4th place finisher in the Pacific and 12th in the West, but I’d love to be proven wrong.
- Matt - I admit my expectations for this Sacramento Kings team were high last year. I bought into the team chemistry, Paul Westphaul and thought Tyreke Evans would return to his rookie year play. Needless to say, I wasn’t even remotely close. Paul Westphaul was fired rightfully, Tyreke Evans struggled to return to Rookie of the Year form, and well team chemistry didn’t mean as much as I thought it did. Now as we head into 2012 I am lowering my expectations. While there appears to be a connection between Keith Smart and the players, I don’t see it having much impact on their outcome. The Kings have the 2nd toughest schedule this year, and for a team that can’t play defense that will become a problem. If there is one player who can change the outcome for this team it will be DeMarcus Cousins. I think this could be the year Cousins can blossom into an All Star with a 20-10 type season. In the end, while I believe that will happen I think the Sacramento Kings are in for another tough season. Finishing last in the Pacific Division with a 32-50 record.
- Marilyn - The Sacramento Kings are better than their record; at least insofar as overall talent goes. But like an orchestra, all the individual players have to play together to harmonize their skills. Coach Smart has his work cut out for himself. He understands the way to win a greater percentage of wins is for his players to play more efficiently together. He also has to work new players into the rotation. There has been some question as to whether Isaiah Thomas will retain the starting position, after the Kings signed Aaron Brooks. While this may be a non sequitur, if this transition does not go smoothly, it could be a mini drama to overcome. James Johnson should move into his new role smoothly, while Thomas Robinson will probably have to earn a starting spot. The team could potentially reach a fifty percent win-loss percentage, if all goes well. Last season, that would have earned them a 3rd place in the Pacific Division. I’m not feeling so optimistic about that happening. They could squeeze out a 4thspot, but realistically, I think the team will be …5th Place – Pacific Division
- Bryan – As mentioned above, the Kings had no favors given to them by the NBA schedule makers. Combined with the young talent and inexperience, it’s going to be another rough season for the purple and black. The talent is there – it’s simply a matter of harnessing it and learning to win, which will happen in due time but this season will be another rough learning experience for the Kings. I could see slight improvement from last year in terms of wins, but the Kings will have a successful season if they’re able to come together as one – no matter what their final win/loss record is. As we’ve seen so many times, teams full of youthful talent are essentially a flick of the light switch away. A few seasons of 25-32 wins many times turns into mid 40, low 50 win years and I think the Kings are on the verge of that – but they’re still a year away from turning on that switch. They still need to learn to win and this will be the year where they start to do so, though it will have some rough patches at first ending in a last place, 31-51 finish. Next year though – I think the Kings are fighting for a playoff seed.
A big thank you to all of the Royal Pain team for putting this together and to all of you, for reading. Stay tuned for our daily player season previews coming soon!