#NBARank: Who rises and falls among Sacramento Kings guards in 2012?

Photos: Steven Chea and James Ham

Photos: Steven Chea and James Ham

DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans were the only Sacramento Kings to crack the top 100 of ESPN.com’s inaugural #NBARank. But where might they and their other teammates land in next year’s list? In the final installment of our three-part series, we weigh-in on the Kings’ guards.

What is #NBArank?

#NBArank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

You can also follow along here: @NBAonESPN

How did we rank the players?

We asked 91 experts to rate each player on a 0-to-10 scale, in terms of “the current quality of each player.”

Here is the full list of voters from ESPN.com, the TrueHoop Network, TrueHoop TV, Daily Dime Live, ESPN TV, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, espnW, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider, ESPN Fantasy, ESPN Games, ESPN Dallas, ESPN Los Angeles, ESPN Chicago, ESPN New York, ESPN Stats & Information, ESPN Topics and ESPN Analytics.

Rank Player Score
Isaiah Thomas 
G | Age: 22 | Stats

Noam Schiller:  Rises. This low in the rankings, players are rated on familiarity more than ability. Isaiah probably doesn’t give much in his first NBA year, but a scoring outburst here or there will send him to the lower 400s.

Zach Harper:  With the depth in the backcourt the Kings will be sporting this year, I find it hard to believe Isaiah Thomas will find much playing time (barring injury of course). Thomas’ small stature will win him a lot of points with analysts if he does manage to get on the court. Little Zeke is a scorer and if given the chance, at worst he’ll be a Luther Head who can actually make a shot. I’ll say he rises but not by a whole lot.

Jonathan Santiago:  Rises, but like Whiteside not by much.  Like at big, the guard rotation is going to revolve around three players – Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette and Tyreke Evans.  Thomas essentially was drafted to fill the role Pooh Jeter played last season.  He’s certainly capable of having moments, like Jeter did last year, but not enough to really see a substantial jump in the rankings.  I see him falling somewhere in the 430-460 range next year.

James Ham:  Rises.  There is no question in my mind that Thomas can play at the NBA level.  Geoff Petrie has chased this player in the past – first with Nate Robinson and last season with Jeter.  I like to call this “searching for Bobby Jackson.”  I think Petrie has finally found the player he’s looking for and the fans are going to love this kid.


Rank Player Score
Jimmer Fredette
G | Age: 22 | Stats | @jimmerfredette

Noam Schiller:  Rises. Rookies in general are hurt by unfamiliarity in this exercise. I don’t know if Jimmer can do anything in the NBA other than score, but just by proving he can do that one thing, he should get to around 200.

Zach Harper:  Rises. Jimmer’s skeptics have been claiming he won’t be able to play with the big boys in the NBA. He’s too slow and doesn’t play defense. Well, I vehemently disagree. What are people going to do when he comes out and starts becoming an offensive weapon in the 2nd unit? What if he plays so well that he earns starter’s minutes? People will catch the Jimmer Fever and he’ll move up in the rankings.

Jonathan Santiago:  Rises.  The only way he falls is if his scoring doesn’t translate to the NBA.  Since he’s essentially filling the void left by Beno Udrih’s departure, he’ll be given enough chances to prove that notion false.  I like Jimmer to move up in next year’s rankings somewhere between 200 and 215.

James Ham:  Rises.  Jimmer is a rotational player from day one in Sacramento.  He perfectly complements Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, and I expect the Kings to have one of the highest scoring backcourt combos in the NBA.


Rank Player Score
Marcus Thornton
G | Age: 24 | Stats | @OfficialMT23

Noam Schiller:  Rises majorly. Whether he stays in Sacramento or cashes in on what remains of restricted free agency, it’s about time Buckets gets the minutes. Once he does, I think he could rise as high as 80.

Zach Harper:  Rises. People love points and Marcus can give you a lot of those. Thornton found a real groove once he came over to the Kings and next to a healthy Tyreke Evans, we’re going to see a very potent scoring attack in the backcourt. I don’t think 16-18 points per game is out of the question for Marcus and if that happens, he’ll be considered close to the top 100.

Jonathan Santiago:  Rises to the 60 to 80 range.  It’ll be interesting to see if Thornton can keep up or come close to the 21 points per game he averaged in 27 appearances for the Kings last year.  Teams may now have a better feel for preparing for him, but Cousins and Evans are still the primary scoring threats on this team.  The attention they garner will still pay dividends for him.

James Ham: Probably rises.  I really like Thornton and what he brings to the Kings.  Down the road, I see Thornton as more of a Vinny Johnson-bench-scorer .  But today, he is the starting shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings.  Thornton is a guy who gets hot and can take over a game.  The Kings need him to build off his impressive post-trade production.


Rank Player Score
Tyreke Evans 
G | Age: 22 | Stats

Noam Schiller:  Rises. Even if he adds no new skills to his game, just being healthy for a full season should give Tyreke some of his rookie season good grace back. A better jumper and a matured game could send him to the brink of all-stardom/top 25 status.

Zach Harper:  Rises. A healthy Tyreke was a beautiful thing to watch. He wasn’t perfect by any means and you hope he can figure out the issues with his outside shot. But he’s still better than most at getting to the rim and finding a way to make things happen. The plantar fasciitis should be gone and with that comes a determined and destructive Reke. Reke Havoc will reign once again and he’ll approach the top 30.

Jonathan Santiago:  Rises.  Despite an injury plagued year, he managed to crack the top 50.  With the lockout dipping into the season schedule, I’m betting on a healthier Evans to perhaps break the top 25.

James Ham: RISES!  I hate looking like homer by grading all four Kings guards favorably, but that’s what happens when you have one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Evans will forget last season ever happened and fulfill his enormous potential this season.  I expect him to be a top 15 player in next year’s rank, especially if the Kings can add that final interior piece in free agency.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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