The Sacramento Kings traded their once-face of the franchise, Tyreke Evans, and are due to give DeMarcus Cousins an extension this fall, making an immediate change at the top of the team’s power rankings.
While the roster may look different this season, the product on the floor should be somewhat improved. Carl Landry, Ben McLemore and Greivis Vasquez are three very good additions to a roster that needed a ton of help. While the roles are still to be defined, there is a clear hierarchy on the roster.
Coming out of high school, Ray McCallum was one of the most sought-after point guards in the country, receiving offers from schools such as Arizona, Florida and UCLA. However, he decided to play for his father at the University of Detroit.
McCallum is a physical guard who can create for others, but is fully capable of hunting down his own shot and connecting from the perimeter. He does not have ideal height to play in two-guard lineups, but he likely will with Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas. Still, McCallum displays adequate shooting and defense and should find a way into the rotation as a rookie.
After acquiring Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Travis Outlaw’s time in the rotation looks to be finished.
Outlaw excels as a small-ball power forward but does not defend or rebound well enough to warrant playing there permanently. Additionally, he still struggles shooting the ball, as evidenced by his career average of 42 percent from the field.
Overall, Outlaw looks like a back-of-the-rotation wing, and that is likely what he will be this season for the Sacramento Kings.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will never be mistaken for an offensive wing, but offensive wings cringe when they are matched up with him.
According to 82games, Mbah a Moute held opposing small forwards to an impressive 10 PER. He fared extremely well against power forwards, holding them to the league-average PER of 15.
Although he will split time with John Salmons on the wing, Mbah a Moute provides the Sacramento Kings with something they sorely needed last season—a defensive stopper.
The Brigham Young product entered the league with much appeal but struggled mightily as a rookie. Last season, he rebounded and became a scoring threat off the bench, thanks to his deep range and ability to knock down threes.
Jimmer Fredette shot a blistering 41 percent from behind the arc but still struggles putting the ball down on the floor. He turns the ball over far too many times and has yet to prove that he can create and find open teammates.
Standing at 6'6" and 250 pounds, Chuck Hayes does not look like an NBA-caliber big, but he sure defends like one.
Hayes is extremely strong and knows how to use his body to beat the man he is defending to a spot on the floor and the ball off the rim.
Offensively, he is a complete liability. He has very few post moves and basically only takes layups. While he is capable of hitting cutters, his main ability on offense is crashing the glass to clean up misses.
Still, Hayes is a good defender and fills the much-needed role of enforcer for the Sacramento Kings.
Two years in a row, John Salmons has avoided being amnestied by the Sacramento Kings.
Salmons is still a solid ball-handler and defender, but his shooting percentages are just ugly. He shot 40 percent from the field in 2011-12 and a pitiful 39 percent last season. While his three-point percentage rose after a career-worst 29 percent two seasons ago, his play seems to have declined and stuck in the mud.
With that said, Salmons will likely still see solid minutes as the Kings lack any real creation ability from their forwards.
Patrick Patterson is your typical rotation stretch power forward. He can knock down the 15-foot jumper with ease but struggles rebounding the ball.
Patterson came off the bench last season after being acquired from the Houston Rockets and formed a solid power forward platoon with Jason Thompson. Much like Thompson, if Patterson could rebound better, he would become a more-than-serviceable power forward.
However, he should fare well in the Sacramento Kings offense this season. The Kings have two contrasting point guards in Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas. Vasquez will look to hit Patterson on pick-and-pops, while Thomas’ attacking ability should draw defenders to him, leaving Patterson on the perimeter for reversals and jumpers.
At this stage of his career, Jason Thompson looks to be what he is. A tweener power forward and center who does nearly everything average.
He is definitely a solid role player, something the Sacramento Kings seem to have an abundance of, but that is about it. He is a solid rebounder, shoots decent from the field and gets to the foul line.
If Thompson could up his intensity level and become an elite rebounder, he would be far more valuable. Other than that, he is perfectly average and a player who can fit into a starting five and fill a role.
The Sacramento Kings' first-round pick out of the University of Kansas is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to earn a starting spot. He will have to beat out a proven volume scorer in Marcus Thornton, but he has the talent to do so.
McLemore tested out as one of the best athletes in the draft and combines that athleticism with his picture-perfect shooting stroke. The only problem is that McLemore needs to assert himself more often when on the court.
While playing at Kansas, he often deferred to his teammates. While that may be fine considering the talent around him on the Kings roster, the team drafted him to be another franchise player, not a role player.
Despite having a career year with the then-New Orleans Hornets, Greivis Vasquez was abruptly traded to the Sacramento Kings in a sign-and-trade for Tyreke Evans. Vasquez put up 13.9 points and nine assists per game and will provide the Kings with a strong floor general to lead their young roster.
While not a great shooter and definitely not an explosive athlete, Vasquez’s game looks more like that of an old-school point guard. He is tall, can see the floor, runs the offense well and is able to get his teammates the ball in their best position to score.
Vasquez should be a welcomed addition to players like DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton, because he will create open looks for them with his ability to penetrate and kick.
What Isaiah Thomas lacks in size, he more than makes up for in talent. The 5’9" point guard was the 60th pick in the 2011 draft, but watching him play, you would never know.
Thomas is able to score at will thanks to his impressive quickness and shot-creating ability. Although he was not much of a shooter at the University of Washington, he has shot the ball relatively well since making the Sacramento Kings roster.
He will have some competition at point guard this season, as the team acquired Greivis Vasquez in the Tyreke Evans trade, but Thomas should see plenty of minutes and produce accordingly.
Playing for the Golden State Warriors last season, Carl Landry was an integral part of their frontcourt. He should be equally important this season for the Sacramento Kings.
Landry provides additional low-post scoring that the Kings were missing the past few years. More importantly, his energy and positive attitude should hopefully make an impact on DeMarcus Cousins.
While he is not much of a defender, he is able to knock down the mid-range jumper and should increase the Kings’ bench scoring.
Marcus Thornton had his minutes cut down last season but still remained as efficient as he was playing 12-14 more minutes the previous two seasons.
Thornton is an explosive scorer who is capable of filling up the basket in a plethora of ways. His jumper is steadily improving from three-point range, and he excels at getting to the line. He was forced to split time in the backcourt last season and will be forced to do the same this year.
However, with Tyreke Evans no longer around, he will be fighting for minutes with Ben McLemore. With that said, he is absolutely the most consistent scorer from the perimeter on the roster and should provide quite the scoring punch with DeMarcus Cousins.
With Tyreke Evans heading to New Orleans to become a Pelican, DeMarcus Cousins is now the face of the franchise. There has never been any question about Cousins’ talent, but more so his attitude and professionalism.
Still, Cousins is an impressive star in the making when he plays up to his abilities. As such, Cousins wants to be paid like one. The Sacramento Kings are taking the process slowly, but they would be wise to keep a player as talented as Cousins around, if possible, because he is the main piece to the rebuilding efforts.