Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press
Draft odds: 15.0% (Top 3), 4.3% (No. 1 overall)
The Sacramento Kings' season has been full of intriguing individual storylines.
Center DeMarcus Cousins has taken the leap from promising underachiever to legitimate All-Star-caliber player. Even if he wasn't selected to the Western Conference squad, his per-game averages of 22.3 points and 11.8 rebounds more than warranted inclusion.
Meanwhile, pint-sized point guard Isaiah Thomas, the last pick in the last round of the 2011 draft, burst onto the scene, averaging 20.6 points and 6.4 assists.
The duo was joined in December by Rudy Gay, who resurrected his career after being traded from the Toronto Raptors. He's averaging 20.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists since coming to Sacramento.
So the Kings have what seems to be an impressive Big Three...on paper, at least. But their play hasn't contributed to many wins.
Some of that is simple bad luck. The Kings have under-performed based on their expected win-loss record of 29-39. Still, that isn't a playoff team.
Moving forward, Sacramento needs two things: depth and defense. They rank a paltry 24th in the league in defensive efficiency. A large part of that is due to Thomas, who gives up nearly as many points on D as he creates on O.
This offseason will be critical for the Kings for two reasons. First, they will need to really cash in on 2014's first-round pick, something they have rarely done in recent years. Grantland's Bill Simmons mentioned the Kings among his four teams that consistently waste high picks: "Sacramento had the no. 4, no. 5, no. 7, no. 5 and no. 7 picks in the past five drafts and has only DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore left."
If the Kings want to compete, they need to turn this pick into a quality player—preferably one who will turn into a plus defender. Even an elite scorer like Jabari Parker is more of a luxury than a necessity.
The second thing they must do is make a decision on Thomas, who will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. They can match any offer, but must decide on a limit that gives them cap flexibility moving forward and stick to it, no matter what.