Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Sacramento Kings
It's safe to say the season for the Sacramento Kings hasn't gone as expected. That's saying something for a team that has missed the playoffs for seven straight years and was predicted to extend the streak to eight.
Despite the team's overall struggles, a few of the players on the Kings are having good individual seasons. On the one hand, that's a moot point, since you play to win the game. On the other hand, you don't win many games without effective players.
The fact that the Kings have effective players is encouraging. But in order to win they need to get more of them, and they need to learn how to play together. But that's a topic for another day.
The task at hand is power ranking each player on the team. The top three players are indisputable, even if one wants to argue the order in which they're ranked among the three. From there, it's kind of a convoluted mess of role players, veterans and youngsters. Nonetheless, each player has been ranked.
Before getting to the rankings, a quick word on how it was compiled. The players were ranked based on their overall season performance, as well as their performance recently. The overall numbers held more water, but those that have struggled or excelled recently were judged accordingly.
With that, let's get to the rankings. Be sure to weigh in on the comments section if you think a player is ranked too high or too low.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
Stats are accurate through games played on Jan. 6.
The Last 2
12. Ray McCallum
McCallum has made the trip to Reno BigHorns, the Kings' D-League affiliate. However, he’s been with the big club since Nov. 27. Yet just because he’s been with the Kings, it doesn’t mean he’s been getting playing time. McCallum hasn’t appeared in a game since Dec. 20 and has logged only 15 minutes on the season. Even though he’s played fewer total minutes than Hamady N'Diaye , McCallum gets the nod because he’s been with the Kings longer.
11. Aaron Gray
Since coming over from the Toronto Raptors, Aaron Gray has only appeared in seven of 12 possible games and only logged 43 total minutes. He’s got some value, especially as a defender and rebounder, but he simply doesn’t play much of a role in most contests.
10. Quincy Acy
Quincy Acy, along with Gray, is another complementary piece from the trade with the Raptors. He plays quite a bit more than Gray, logging 155 minutes and appearing in 11 of 12 games. He’s averaging 3.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 14.1 minutes. He’s also shooting 55.6 percent from the field and has the third-highest win shares per 48 minutes, trailing only Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins.
Acy's got kind of a niche role with the Kings. But he's proved to be effective in the playing time that he does get. He may not wow you when looking at his box scores, but he's been a nice addition. Surely, the Kings could use more players with his energy.
9. Travis Outlaw
The next three players in the power rankings really could be ordered in any combination. Arguments could be made for any of them. Travis Outlaw is currently rated as the lowest of the three mainly because the next two have been flip-flopping lately.
After a scorching start to the year, Outlaw has really dropped off of late. Since the start of December, Outlaw is only shooting 28.3 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from three-point range. He has an offensive rating of 78 and a defensive rating of 111 during that time.
His overall numbers this season indicate Outlaw is having his best year since coming to the Kings. That's somewhat misleading, since he struggled so much the first two years. Not to mention that if he keeps up his recent pace, he'll surely regress to his Sacramento mean.
8. Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer Fredette is considerably behind Travis Outlaw in minutes this season. That's one argument in Outlaw's favor. However, unlike Outlaw, Fredette has been trending upward lately.
Since the Rudy Gay trade—which shipped out Greivis Vasquez, essentially making Fredette the backup point guard—the third-year player has appeared in every game, averaging 5.2 points, 0.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 10.2 minutes of action. He's also shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown.
He still doesn't have a sizable role on the team, but he doesn't really need to. Isaiah Thomas is a better all-around player and definitely a better floor general. But when Fredette's in the game, he's been productive. That's all the Kings could ask for given his expectations entering the year.
7. Marcus Thornton
Marcus Thornton is in the midst of the worst season of his NBA career. Not even his rookie year was this bad, which is saying a lot considering the Bayou Bomber was a second-round pick.
Thornton has really struggled to get his offensive game going. He's only shooting 37.9 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three-point range, both of which are career lows. As would be expected of someone struggling to shoot, Thornton's averages of 8.6 points per game and 13.1 points per 36 minutes are also the worst of his career.
The main crux of his issues is his reliance on the three-point shot for his offense. Three-pointers have always been part of his game, but this season 50.5 percent of his field-goal attempts are from three-point range. That's more than in any other year. Naturally, due to the increased threes, he's getting to the free-throw line with less frequency than ever before (.145 free-throw-attempt rate), and his .315 three-point percentage isn't helping him make up for his lack of chances from the charity stripe.
Thornton gets the nod over Fredette mainly because his playing time considerably trumps the BYU product. But if Fredette continues to produce and Thornton continues to be a black hole, that may change.
6. Derrick Williams
Ever since coming over from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Derrick Williams has had a noteworthy role with the Kings. He started his first seven games with the Kings but has been coming off the bench since the Rudy Gay trade. Still, he's been a good acquisition for Sacramento.
Williams averaged 12.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assist and 1.1 steal in 28.5 minutes as a starter. He's seen those numbers dip a bit as a reserve, averaging 6.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 0.8 steals in 22.3 minutes off the bench.
Overall, his win shares per 48 minutes is fourth on the team. He's also one of only four Kings with a positive net rating, meaning an offensive rating that's higher than the defensive rating.
Williams is one of the key members of coach Mike Malone's rotation. Starting or coming off the bench, it should remain that way into the second half of the season.
5. Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson is ahead of Williams in the power rankings because he's ahead of him on the depth chart. They both get similar playing time, but Thompson's versatility and all-around game give him the edge.
Thompson is staying consistent throughout the season and also throughout his career. His scoring average, rebounding and field-goal percentage all closely resemble his career marks.
One area he needs to improve on is his turnovers. Thompson's 15.3 turnover percentage is the worst he's ever posted. He's not asked to provide a ton on offense, but the Kings can't have him turning the ball over when he actually gets it.
Malone knows what he'll get from Thompson, unlike a lot of players on this team, on a nightly basis. That's a good commodity to have, especially on a team like Sacramento that tends to consistently give up-and-down performances.
4. Ben McLemore
Ben McLemore's been going through some growing pains of late. He's struggled finding rhythm to his offensive game and hasn't provided much lately.
The rookie's shooting percentage is down to 36.6 percent, and his three-point percentage is sitting at .339. He's also seen his player efficiency rating drop to 7.7 (the league average is 15), and his win shares per 48 minutes is in the red at minus-0.002.
Struggles are expected of nearly every rookie, especially one like McLemore who only played one season in college. The one good thing is Mike Malone hasn't lost faith in the Kansas product. McLemore's still starting for the Kings, and he's played at least 17 minutes in every contest since Dec. 1.
The future's still incredibly bright for McLemore. With his continued playing time and increasing experience, he should start to get it going a bit more.
3. Rudy Gay
Since coming over from Toronto, Rudy Gay hasn't really resembled the player many thought the Kings were getting. Sure, he's still averaging nearly 20 points per game, but he hasn't been the inefficient volume shooter he was with the Raptors.
After hitting only 38.8 percent of his field goals with Toronto, Gay has made 49.7 percent of them so far with the Kings. Perhaps the most encouraging takeaway from his field-goal percentage is his three-point percentage of 21.4 percent. Obviously that's not good, and it's much lower than his career line of 34.2 percent, but it shows he's utilizing other aspects of his game.
He's also seen his field-goal attempts drop from 18.6 per game down to 14.9 since the trade. With Toronto, Gay had a usage percentage of 30.6. It's since dropped to 24.8 percent, showing he's not as much of a focal point within the offense, yet he's remaining productive.
So far, the acquisition of Gay has worked out well for the Kings. He's been a better player than expected, and the next guy in our power rankings has thrived in the starting role opened up by the trade.
2. Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas has made vast improvements since coming into the NBA. However, what he's doing this season trumps even the wildest expectations for his performance.
Thomas is scoring more points than ever, with an average of 19.3 points per game and 21.7 points per 36 minutes, both of which are career highs. He's also doing it efficiently, as his .465 field-goal percentage is stellar for a point guard.
But we all knew Thomas could score coming into the season, even if it wasn't to this extent. However, there were questions about his ability to lead an offense. He's also making strides in that area. His 6.2 assists per game and 6.9 per 36 are considerably more than the 4.0 and 5.4 he averaged last season.
Thomas has arguably been the Kings' best player. He leads the team in total win shares and is second by a hair in win shares per 48 minutes. However, the next guy has been the best player in Sacramento so far...
1. DeMarcus Cousins
If Isaiah Thomas is in the midst of his best season, the same thing certainly applies to DeMarcus Cousins. The center went from above average to one of the NBA's elite.
Cousins is tied for seventh in points per game. He's fifth in rebounds per game, ninth in steals per game and fifth in player efficiency rating when compared to the rest of the NBA. He also leads the NBA in usage percentage, partially explaining his uptick in scoring, but his PER shows he's doing it efficiently.
Among Kings players, Cousins is first in win shares per 48 minutes, and he's second, trailing only Thomas, in total win shares. His defensive rating of 102 is also far and away tops on the team, not to mention considerably better than anything the center's ever produced before.
Instead of arguing whether Cousins is the best player on the team, a better argument would be whether he's the best center in the NBA. That's not to say he is, but at least that's something up for debate. His status as best player on the Kings currently isn't.
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