How many games will the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings win?
It’s no secret that the 2013-14 Sacramento Kings were based around three primary players. DeMarcus Cousins led the team in scoring at 22.7 points per game, but Rudy Gay and the departed Isaiah Thomas were right behind the big man, both scoring over 20 points per game.
There was not a single Sacramento Kings player outside of the “Big 3” who scored in double figures last season.
This year, the roster has taken on a different look. Cousins and Gay should still combine to score close to 45 points per game. But there isn’t a big three, there is a big six or seven.
Through four preseason games, it’s getting easier to predict the opening night starting lineup. Darren Collison is averaging 14 points and 5.3 assists, while turning the ball over just five times in four games. Ramon Sessions has been solid, but Collison has been very good and is likely the starter on opening night.
At the shooting guard position, Ben McLemore is showing major signs of growth. McLemore broke out in game four, but up until then, he was in a dead heat with Nik Stauskas. He may not hold off the rookie the entire season, but as of now, McLemore is the better defender and that gets him the nod. McLemore has started three of the team’s four games in the preseason and after the 22 point performance on Wednesday morning in China, he looks like the starter next to Collison.
Lastly, Jason Thompson has once again come to camp in great shape. He has started three of the team’s four games, including a spot start at the center position for Cousins on Wednesday. Reggie Evans has seen time at the four, as has Carl Landry, but Thompson is more versatile than either of the other two. Thompson has added range, and after a 13 rebound performance versus the Nets, he continues to show that he is willing to do whatever the team needs to be successful.
That leaves a solid bench for coach Michael Malone to work with. Sessions is an above average backup point guard. He can handle the ball and take almost anyone off the dribble. He will find a way to score double figures off the bench night in and night out.
Alongside Sessions is Stauskas, who can shoot the ball. The rookie needs a bit of experience at the NBA’s speed. But as the rookie gets more comfortable, new facets of his game will materialize.
At the small forward position, Omri Casspi has come out of nowhere to steal the spot from Derrick Williams. He’s struggled with his shot, but his speed, energy and IQ have set him apart. Casspi brings a versatility to this roster that they haven’t had in years. This isn’t the same player the Kings drafted in 2009.
At the four, the Kings have options, but the hope is that Landry can start earning the fat contract he signed last summer. Reggie Evans will get time here as well, but he is the fifth big at this point. Landry has the potential to give the Kings another double-digit scorer off the bench.
Ryan Hollins has already earned his salary for this season. His mentorship of Cousins is worth his weight in gold. The Kings have lacked an athletic shot blocking big like this for a while, but this season will be about speed and versatility. Hollins will play, but only in spots.
As of today, the Kings rotation is materializing. With this team, things can change at any moment, but there is a starting five and a much improved bench on display.
After four preseason games, the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings look balanced. They are more talented from top to bottom, but will it translate to wins?
And that is the question. If you are judging from what we have seen so far, how many games will the Kings win this season?