In a recent interview with the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Kings “star” DeMarcus Cousins came out and point blank stated that his confidence was shattered, citing a combination of losing and a lack of overall improvement in his own game:
“I’ve been terrible,” Cousins said bluntly but softly. “We’re losing. I don’t feel like I made improvements from last year. I really don’t have any confidence at all. I’m just trying to think my way through it, but right now, I’m not finding anything.”
While Cousins’ statement clearly holds validity in both points, it got me thinking – this is more than just a Cousins problem.
In the last couple years, we’ve had the two King franchise building blocks all but throw their hands up in frustration. Both Cousins and Evans have fallen from grace, a grace that seemingly reflects the current state of the franchise.
However, despite the issues with Cousins and Evans – the lack of progression (or stagnation, if you’d rather) in recent years, not only from Cousins and Evans but others has become alarming.
While players like Jason Williams, Hedo Turkoglu, Gerald Wallace and even late round picks like Kevin Martin all eventually flourished in the NBA (most with the Kings), recent picks like Quincy Douby, Spencer Hawes, Omri Casspi, Hassan Whiteside, Donte Greene and more have all failed to capitalize on their expectations, most falling flat on their face.
Say what you will about Geoff Petrie‘s ability to build a team, but Petrie has amassed a pretty remarkable track record in the NBA Draft so the fact that so many recent draftee’s (and other free agent/trade additions) are continually failing to reach expectations has more to do with the current state of the franchise than the player themselves.
I’ve always been a firm believer that situations can dictate a player’s ability. From playing time to the “situation” (whatever that might be), the difference in situation A compared to situation B could be the difference between a player being a 7th or 8th man on an NBA franchise to playing in the D-League or overseas, all because they couldn’t find an opportunity on the court early in their career. It could also turn a productive talent into, well, less than.
The continued lack of progression by recent draft picks is alarming. We’ve had current Kings, like Jason Thompson for example, state how difficult the early part of the NBA career has been because of the constant unknown – the constant rotating of head coaches. Make no mistake, all of these things hurt a players progression. Fortunately for Jason, he was able to find consistent floor time despite his early imperfections and has grown into a solid NBA talent, but for many – they don’t get that extended run, if they get any at all.
So where am I going with all of this? How does Cousins’ shaken confidence relate to this? It’s simply a lack of leadership within the organization. Players need structure and that’s something they don’t currently have in Sacramento. It’s not only an emotional roller coaster for these players, but a physical one too. One night they’re starting – the next time they’re getting a DNP. One night they’re playing at one position, the next game they’re at another position. One night you’re starting – the next you’re the 7th man. One night you’re the offensive focal point and you’re playing a running style, the next you get five touches and the game slows to a snail pace.
It’s a constant set of unknowns for the player and frankly, that can destroy the best of the best. A stable work environment is needed for anybody – not only professional athletes, but at a day-to-day job. I don’t think the lack of progression in recent years from Kings draft picks has as much to do with their talent (or lack of) as it does the unhealthy way the organization has been ran in past years. From the musical chairs on the sideline to the arena issues to relocation, it’s one thing after the other.
Some stability would be nice – both for the fans and players, but it doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon and it’s going to be a struggle to have Evans, Cousins or any other King play up to their talent and ability with so many outside issues creating havoc.