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Is Isaiah Thomas the Sacramento Kings' spark plug or franchise point guard?
Key Players: DeMarcus Cousins (22), Tyreke Evans (23), Thomas Robinson (21), Isaiah Thomas (23), Marcus Thornton (25)
Players to Watch: Jimmer Fredette (23), Tyler Honeycutt (22), James Johnson (25)
The Sacramento Kings may have the most raw talent of any team in the NBA. With all five of their potential starters under the age of 25, the Kings' window of opportunity for greatness is as wide as any. The question is, will we ever see this team form even the slightest amount of chemistry?
If we don't, this could only be described as a colossal waste of talent.
The team is led by DeMarcus Cousins, who has made his mark as one of the best young big men in the NBA. Cousins posted All-Star caliber averages of 18.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He also led the league by grabbing 4.1 offensive boards per contest.
As he enters his third year in the league, the baby step to elite will be taken.
Whether or not the players alongside him will follow is up for debate. Fortunately, the Kings selected 21-year-old power forward Thomas Robinson out of Kansas this past June creating a promising frontcourt.
Robinson is a well-mannered player with an excellent motor. His defensive intensity and rebounding prowess should work perfectly alongside Cousins. Pairing with Jason Thompson should only make the learning curve easier to overcome due to their similar playing styles.
As for the backcourt, 5'9" point guard Isaiah Thomas was as impressive as any rookie in the game last year. His energy was infectious and his influence on teammates is indescribable. Although he could lose his starting job to Aaron Brooks, Thomas has proven to be more than just another Nate Robinson.
He can start.
At shooting guard, Marcus Thornton has become one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Although he's limited in virtually every other statistical category, Thornton has proven capable of scoring at a high rate. His 18.7 points per game ranked first on the team and fourth amongst NBA shooting guards.
As we shift to small forward, however, bright skies get cloudy.
Since winning the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year award, Tyreke Evans has been on the decline in every major statistical category. Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game as a rookie. In 2011, he averaged 17.8 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds. In 2012 his numbers dropped to 16.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.
All a result of his lack of position.
If Evans is able to discover how to translate his street ball abilities to the NBA, thus discovering where he's supposed to be on the floor, we could be witnessing the emergence of an elite player. His skill set suggests that he could rival the best of the best in terms of statistical production.
Tyreke Evans' recent struggles suggest that the Kings will never lift off. Should he turn things around, we could be witnessing the next great team in the Western Conference hitting their stride.
2011-12 Regular Season Record