Now that the season is over and the playoffs are in full swing, it’s time to start looking back at what worked this season, what didn’t work this season and how all aspects of the franchise did. We’ll start with a look towards the players that we’re briefly with the Sacramento Kings before finishing the regular season somewhere else.
Some of these guys were really valuable or had the potential to be really valuable in the short-term. Some of these guys had next to nothing to do with the Sacramento Kings season. And some of these guys were hard to part with. Without further ado, here is the first installment of the Kings In Review series:
1. Garrett Temple, Point Guard
5 games, 23 minutes, 11 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 37.5% FG, 100% FT (5/5), 15.4 PER, 53.9% TS
Garrett is the only person on this list who left by his own volition. After a ten-day contract, he decided to leave the Kings and go play with a playoff contender, the San Antonio Spurs. He wasn’t playing much when he was here but I liked what I saw from him. Decent defender. Good guy to push the ball up the floor. Not a very good shooter but didn’t see a big sample size either. I think Garrett can find himself a nice little career in the NBA and work his way up to being a quality backup. His time in the D-League has done him well and he should be able to continue to build upon it.
Best Game As a King: March 12th against Portland
4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1/2 FG, 2/2 FT
Garrett is in the thick of the playoffs with this rejuvenated Spurs but not getting any playing time because he’s not Tony Parker or George Hill. However, with his particular skill set (solid ball-handler, good defender, push the tempo) Temple can definitely find his way into a training camp next year and earn his way onto a roster. He’s probably never going to be a solid, definite backup point guard in the NBA but if there is anybody for him to pattern his career it’s going to be someone like Ronnie Price.
2. Joey Dorsey, Power Forward
8 games, 52 minutes, 12 points, 18 rebounds, 9 fouls, 44% FG, 40% FT, 7.9 PER, 19.8% TRB
At one point, Joey Dorsey was the best post defender on the Kings. That is in no way a good thing if you’re trying to find your way back into the upper echelon of the NBA. Joey Dorsey is very nice to have in theory. He’s a big, burly man that would scare the hell out of most UFC fighters if you were to cross him in an alley somewhere. If he came along 17 years earlier, he would have been the perfect sidekick to put alongside Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man. In fact, to save money on heavy construction equipment, you could easily just have him run through condemned structures to bring them down to size. However, despite his acumen for interior defense and rebounding in short spurts off the bench, the Kings let him go late in the season without any financial or roster movement purposes. He simply wasn’t thought to be serious enough about his job with the Kings. He was late to meetings and not exactly the most attentive student from what I heard around the team. Eventually, he signed in Toronto and was a bystander to the Chris Bosh Canadian ship sinking out of the playoffs.
Best Game As a King: March 3rd at Houston
3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1/1 FG, 1/2 FT
Dorsey has the size and the defensive/rebounding tools to be a decent backup forward in this league. He’ll never be starting material and probably will still bounce around the D-League from time to time as he tries to gain some much-needed experience but a bruiser like Dorsey is definitely something of an asset in this league. The problem is his maturity level can’t be very high if a 25-win team is kicking him off because they’re afraid his influence could make the young players on the Kings less focused. He’ll probably bounce around the league for a couple of years before he starts his next career as the stunt double for certain buildings in the Die Hard movies.
3. Hilton Armstrong, Center
6 games, 56 minutes, 10 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 33% FG, 100% FT (2/2), 8.4 PER, 14.3% TRB
This was a roll of the dice for the Kings who were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with giving Hilton Armstrong a second chance to make good on his lottery selection in 2006. The Kings sent a conditional, second round draft pick to the Hornets for the rest of Hilton’s $2.8 million contract. It was a move by the Kings that was extremely low risk but at the same time it was simply moving sideways instead of moving forward. Hilton has never been a good player in this league and hasn’t even really shown flashes. He can block shots a little but is a horrible rebounder and scorer. The Kings hoped that a change of scenery would galvanize something within Hilton to turn him into the prospect that New Orleans hoped he’d be when they drafted him the 12th pick. Instead, he was just as bad and inept on both ends of the floor (even though his block rate did go to an all-time high in his brief stint with the Kings). Eventually, he was included in the Kevin Martin trade.
Best Game As a King: January 23rd at Miami
2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1/2 FG
He’s almost seven feet tall so he’ll probably always have a job in the NBA. But if you’re wondering whether or not Hilton Armstrong can be a productive part of NBA society then the answer is a resounding no. Hilton Armstrong is taller than most people and has long arms. He should be – at worst – a shot blocking and rebounding force in the NBA. He just doesn’t have the awareness or capacity to do so in this league for whatever reason you want to find.
4. Desmond Mason, Small Forward
5 games (4 starts), 66 minutes, 13 points, 13 rebounds, 41.7% FG, 75% FT (3/4), 6.2 PER
I really tried to defend this signing and find the good in the possibility of bringing in a low-rent veteran that made a surplus of a position even surpluser (made it up). Dez was a veteran swingman past his prime who was going to sign with the Kings to help push the younger small forwards on the team. Omri Casspi, Donté Greene and even Andres Nocioni were going to have to earn their minutes over the new defensive specialist for the Kings. The problem is that Mason was such a liability on offense that it couldn’t possibly make up for his mediocre defense. He wasn’t a bad defender but he certainly wasn’t a good defender. He was an old wing player that was losing his athleticism. He also couldn’t shoot to save his life and was no threat whatsoever on offense. Kings released him on November 5th (just nine days into the season!!!) after they signed Ime Udoka, who turned out to be much better at the defensive specialist role than Mason ever showed.
Best Game As a King: October 31st at San Antonio
7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 2/3 FG, 3/4 FT
This was probably Desmond Mason’s final go in the NBA. Maybe he can try to get himself into even better shape in the off-season and play the role of mentor with some young team. However, if it didn’t work out here then I find it hard to believe it will work somewhere else one year later. The good thing about this signing is that it showed early on Coach Westphal was going to hold his young players accountable. By making Mason a starter at the beginning of the season, it made Omri and Donté work much harder to prove their worth on the court. Mason certainly galvanized the young wing players in some way but it wasn’t necessarily the way the front office hoped he would.
5. Kenny Thomas, Power Forward
26 games (2 starts), 12.0 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 48.6% FG, 58.3% FT, 9.0 PER, 18.9% TRB
Kenny Thomas was the last Sacramento remnant of the Chris Webber trade. Counting the half season he spent with the Kings when he was first traded, he was here for around six years with the organization. When given a shot, Kenny definitely wasn’t bad for the Kings. He put up decent numbers and provided a nice-enough inside presence. But he wasn’t exactly Chris Webber either. The problem with 6’7” power forwards is that they’re 6’7” and everybody else is usually taller at that position. You have to be incredibly special to succeed at that height in that position. This season, K9 was once again an afterthought. He had a couple moments of production and rebounded well whenever he was on the court. However, he was just not a part of this team’s long-term plan and therefore didn’t see much playing time for the third straight season. Kings waived him after the Kevin Martin trade.
Best Game As a King: December 5th at Phoenix
4 points, 18 rebounds, 8 offensive rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 2/5 FG
Malik Allen is still in the NBA and he’s definitely not much better than Kenny Thomas. Kenny wasn’t exactly the most desirable player over the last few years for teams because his contract was not in line with what he gave you on the court. Now, he could be signed for the veteran minimum anywhere and provide the young guys with a very good mentor. He can also be a fine rebounder and a decent defender when needed at the drop of a hat. He’ll look back at his time in Sacramento and probably see it as wasted time. And that’s fair because it certainly was on his end. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see him transition into an assistant coaching role some day.
6. Sergio Rodriguez, Point Guard
39 games, 13.3 mpg, 6.0 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 topg, 46.3% FG, 35.7% 3FG, 69.4% FT, 16.9 PER, Lead Team in +/- (+108)
Believe it or not but Sergio Rodriguez was the most productive player on the court this season when you look at plus/minus. There were only three players that had a positive plus/minus on the Kings this season. Hilton Armstrong (+8) was oddly enough one of them. Sean May (+10) was another one. And Sergio (+107) was the third. He was the definition of a playmaker and a sparkplug when the Kings brought him off the bench. He changed the pace and was the Kings best passer on the floor at all times. He wasn’t great defensively but he helped the Kings take advantage of long rebounds and slow transition defense from their opponents.
The thing I loved about Sergio was he never really complained about being the third point guard, often buried on the bench. He just went out there and did his job. He did his job well too. He was having his most efficient season in the NBA with the Kings (16.9 PER) and is definitely a player you would like to see with this team long-term. Unfortunately, unless you’re the Lakers you have to give something of value to get something of value. To make the Kevin Martin for Carl Landry swap complete, the Kings had to throw in Sergio to the Knicks.
Best Game As a King: November 29th against New Orleans
24 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, 9/14 FG, 2/4 3FG, 4/4 FT
Sergio is a legit backup point guard in this league. He’s always been shifting between the backup spot and the third point guard on the roster. Sergio’s biggest issues are outside shooting and defense. Well, look at someone like Earl Watson who has been on the fence between starting and backup point guard in this league. There’s no way that Sergio is considerably worse than that guy. Sergio will be a definite backup point in this league. It’s too bad he couldn’t be a part of this Kings team and had a chance to help this young core grow. There just wasn’t enough room for him.
I realize I left out one certain player from this season. No, it’s not Larry Hughes. Kevin Martin deserves his own post and will get one soon.