ESPN shows the Kings zero love once again
A few days ago, ESPN released its regular season record projections of all 30 NBA teams and where they will end up when the 2016-17 season ends. As expected, the Warriors and Cavaliers finished atop the Western and Eastern Conference respectively.
As far as the Sacramento Kings go, they were slotted in 13th place in the Western Conference and 26th overall behind the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.
The predicted record was 30-52, three games worse than the year before. This makes sense if you look at it from an addition by subtraction basis.
Last season, the Kings won the most games since the 2007-08 season. The team had an All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins, a very good scorer in Rudy Gay and the leader in assists per game (11.7) in Rajon Rondo. The problem begins when you look at what has transpired since the end of last season.
After most of the smoke cleared from free agency, the Kings lost Rondo to the Chicago Bulls and Gay is allegedly on the trading block and has no idea what to make of the team.
Mix in the fact that it’s possible that the only point guard on the roster (Darren Collison) could be out for a substantial period of time after being accused of domestic violence last May.
It’s entirely possible that the NBA will take the same stance it did with Collison that it took with Jeffery Taylor in 2014 when they suspended Taylor for 24 games.
Yes, Cousins is still on the team, but he seems equally perplexed by the direction of the team as referenced in his tweet right after the Kings traded down in the draft for Greek big man Georgios Papagiannis and Kentucky center Skal Labissiere.
To be fair to both Papagiannis and Labissiere, it’s way too early to say if the picks were good or bad. Just because nobody knows Papagiannis doesn’t mean he won’t be productive.
Nobody knew how good Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nikola Jokić would be when drafted. As for Labissiere, he was the number two overall prospect coming into Kentucky last year.
Myles Turner and Jabari Parker were the number two overall prospects two years before that. Some players may be late bloomers.
Also, the Kings signed four capable players in free agency in Aaron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes and Anthony Tolliver. Afflalo can get you 10-12 points a night either as a starter or off the bench.
Barnes is the veteran leader who should be placed in a similar role that Caron Butler had last year, as he served well as a mentor for Cousins. Tolliver and Temple are bench guys who can come in and get a few points, given the opportunity.
With that said, this season comes down to one player and how he performs on and off the court. Cousins is the Kings’ version of Russell Westbrook. He’s the only person that any reasonable fan can hold on to in the hopes of making the playoffs.
However, with everything mentioned earlier, the likelihood of that is slim. You have to rely on Cousins to be what he was last season (26.9 PPG and 11.5 RPG) and hope Collison doesn’t get suspended for any lengthy amount of time. Also, even if Gay stays, you hope that he averages more than 1.7 assists per game.
Gay played in 70 games last season and only had a total of 120 assists. To put that into perspective, Cousins, a center, almost doubled that with 214 in 65 games and David West, who played only 18 minutes a game with the Spurs, had 143 assists.
If last season was the best the Kings could do with 33 wins, then the 30 win estimate from ESPN seems accurate considering what they’ve lost and the lack of firepower that was signed in free agency. This looks like another long season for both the Sacramento Kings and its fan base.
*The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or Cowbell Kingdom