Sacramento Kings: 5 Reasons to Believe in Young Talented Team
It has been a difficult two seasons for the Kings and their fans in Sacramento.
On the court, the team has struggled even with the youthful talent of DeMarcus Cousins and former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.
Off the court, a handshake deal for a new arena in Sacramento fell through and now the team may be considering relocation in the next few seasons after dodging that bullet just last summer.
However, not all is bleak for the future of the Kings. The 2012 NBA Draft went exceptionally well for the Kings who found Thomas Robinson still on the board when they picked fifth overall.
Now with possibly one of the biggest steals of the draft, Sactown is looking to return to the exciting form of their early 2000s success.
Here are five reasons why things can only go up from here for the Kings.
5. The Backcourt
Speaking of draft steals, Mr. Irrelevant of the 2011 NBA Draft, Isaiah Thomas, was picked last in the draft and still found a way to crack the starting rotation for the Kings. He picked up two awards for Western Conference Rookie of the Month last season and could be the long-term answer for the Kings at point guard.
Besides the surprising Thomas, the Kings also have the likes of Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, and Jimmer Fredette to work with in their backcourt.
While Thornton has proven his worth as a go-to scorer for Sacramento, Fredette and Evans were disappointing last season, to say the least.
However, Fredette's struggles stemmed a lot from his lack of confident play on the court, which was the exact opposite of how he played when he was a shooting monster from all over the court at BYU. This is something that can be adjusted this offseason with a full offseason of training camps and workouts with the Kings, something Fredette was deprived of after being drafted.
As for Evans, he may not have much more of a ceiling from what we saw in his rookie season, but he can still refine his shooting game and become a solid shooting guard/point guard combo for the Kings.
4. The Fans
One thing that the Kings haven't been lacking in is some good old fashioned hometown loving.
While the Kings may not be as popular around Sacramento as they were in their heyday during their deep playoff runs about a decade ago, the diehard fans who fell in love with this team when they moved here have not left their side.
A prime example of this is when the Kings lost the last game of their season against the Lakers in the 2010-2011 season and Sacramento fans were still unsure whether the team would be moving to Anaheim. In reaction to this, hundreds of fans stayed in their seats after the game, chanting and wanting to see their team one more time.
I don't care what attendance says about the Kings' games, the fans who have been through the highs and lows with this team will continue to stick with them. That's something that current Kings players are aware of and even newcomers like Thomas Robinson are learning quickly.
It seems obvious, but one thing that the Kings have going for them is their youthful core of players. Going into last season, Sacramento had the youngest average age of any team in the NBA at 24.68 years.
Think about it—Cousins is 21, Evans is 22, Thomas is 23, Robinson is 21, Thornton is 25. That's a young core for a franchise and you could end up riding that set of players for several years.
One thing the Kings have been bad at in the years since their last playoff appearance in 2005, is keeping consistent players together on a team. With a youthful core like I just mentioned, the Kings can give them ample time to grow together and become a team, with the help of veteran presences like Chuck Hayes and John Salmons.
A prime example of this comes from the Thunder, who have built their team organically and have used the draft and wise, but quiet, trades and signings to build a contending squad.
It's fair to say the Kings may be able to do the same thing if they handle it correctly.
2. Keith Smart
This could have been the best decision the Kings made last year when they decided to get rid of head coach Paul Westphal early on.
Westphal had several clashes with DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings' front office eventually decided to side with Cousins and then replace Westphal. This was the right choice and the Kings made it even better when they decided to give Keith Smart the keys to the car.
Smart has shown promise in his first season with the Kings and seems to be a good "players' coach", which really benefits a young team like the Kings. One convincing sign that he had the team's support was when he was hugged by the usually angry Cousins after a home win (pictured in the slide). Another was his fun side when he let Cousins coach the team for a bit too.
He has worked wonders with Cousins and has helped him to calm down and play hard throughout the game instead of begging for calls or not hustling back on defense.
If Smart can continue to positively impact the important players for Sacramento, he could be the head coach for the foreseeable future for the Kings.
1. The Frontcourt
The Kings knew what they were in for when they drafted Thomas Robinson.
They got possibly the best rebounder in the draft along with a power forward with insane athleticism and a refined post game. When you pair that prospect with the ever-improving DeMarcus Cousins, you have a fearsome frontcourt in the making.
Sacramento hasn't seen a pairing like this since the days of Vlade Divac and Chris Webber and the Kings know that they have something special here. Even with the possibility of bringing back restricted free-agent Jason Thompson, the Kings would add even more depth behind the likes of Robinson and Cousins.
Additionally, backup center Hassan Whiteside finally saw some decent playing time last season and with the Kings deciding not to pursue another center in the draft or free agency, it might be time for Whiteside to really show Sacramento if he can play up to his potential.
Robinson and Cousins will be attacking the glass ferociously and they will complement each other on the court nicely this next season and hopefully for many seasons to come in Sacramento.