Throughout September and October, we’ll be examining all 30 teams in the NBA and previewing the 2013-14 season through the lens of each particular organization. I’ll be going through each team’s roster and expected outcome for the upcoming campaign in reverse order of predicted finish, starting with the worst team in the NBA. At the bottom of each preview there will be a table with each division that will link to already-completed previews.
The Sacramento Kings have new ownership, a new front office, a new coaching staff…and a largely similar roster to the 28-54 squad from 2012-13.
That’s not to say that the Kings aren’t on the right track. Getting rid of the Maloofs as majority owners is absolutely a great first step, and new regime has already began the task of instilling a better, more defensive-minded culture in Sacramento.
There is some talent on the current roster. But of course, “some” is the issue. The enigmatic DeMarcus Cousins remains as talented and volatile as ever, but he’ll also finally be paired with a pass-first point guard in Greivis Vasquez after playing with scoring-minded Tyreke Evans for his entire three-year career. Vasquez actually led the entire NBA in assists last season, and the rest of the Kings’ roster is surely ecstatic with the swap.
Rookie Ben McLemore was selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and will get every opportunity to jell with Vasquez in spearheading the Kings’ offensive attack. The back court, with Vasquez, McLemore, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, and Jimmer Fredette should be fairly serviceable.
Sacramento acquired forward Luc Mbah a Moute from the Milwaukee Bucks during the off-season, and he will lead what should be a massive improvement on the defensive end of the court. John Salmons and Travis Outlaw are the other veteran wing players on the team, and both have left a lot to be desired in recent years and shouldn’t be counted on to be anything better than mediocre.
Which leaves us with Cousins, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, the frustrating Patrick Patterson, and the decent but woefully undersized Chuck Hayes as the primary front court players for the Kings. Again, a serviceable crew, but with very limited upside and no significant combination of size and defensive ability.
Changing the culture was the first step for the Kings. Next is trading off pieces like Fredette and Salmons and potentially some larger contracts like Thornton. The Kings should be pretty bad again in 2013-14, and the rough and tumble Western Conference will help ensure that they don’t win too many games.
Best Case Scenario
Cousins remains consistent, stays on the court, and begins to make the most of his unlimited potential. Vasquez plays like he did last season in New Orleans, and Isaiah Thomas plays as well as he has in his first two seasons in a likely expanded role. McLemore is solid as a rookie, and the veterans are all steady. This might get the Kings back to 26-29 wins.
Worst Case Scenario
Cousins goes off the deep end, Vasquez has no shooters to pass to and can’t score himself, and McLemore struggles. Things could get real ugly real fast in Sactown, just like they have in recent years. This could be a team with one of the lowest floors in the league, so we’ll say 21-24 wins.
Most Likely Outcome
It’s hard to see this edition of the Kings having much of a high ceiling, either. They should avoid being downright awful due to Cousins, Vasquez, and a number of capable veteran players. Unfortunately, they have exactly zero star-caliber players, and their best player is also a complete wild card. I’ll say they win 24-27 games.
|Charlotte Bobcats (26)|
Philadelphia 76ers (30)
|Orlando Magic (27)|
|Sacramento Kings (25)|
Utah Jazz (29)
Phoenix Suns (28)