The NBA's Western Conference was loaded with talent this season. It will take a lot of work for the Sacramento Kings to get back into the thick of it
I personally think that the Maloof' made a major mistake in firing Rick Adelman. Adelman had deal with a rebuilding franchise on the fly. While doing so, he managed to give the eventual NBA Champion Spurs a run for their money in the first round, taking the series to six games. But as it often happends, coaches are blamed for most of the problems with the team.
But the Kings made a good decision in hiring Reggie Theus. Though he did not have a lot of coaching experience, he led the Kings to a somewhat respectable record, despite the injuries the team suffered during the regular season.
The Kings' two leading scorers, Kevin Martin and Ron Artest, missed more than twenty games apiece. Francisco Garcia put up good numbers in limited minutes. He can be a spark off of the bench for the Kings in years to come.
Kevin Martin was a consistent scoring threat for the Kings. But he needs to find a way to increase his assists if he wants to be the true leader of the team. I don't think that two and a half assists a game will cut it. If he could get his average up to about four or five assists a night, it will help him to emerge as the go-to guy—someone who can score and create opportunities for his teammates.
Ron Artest has the talent to be a franchise player. With his extreme ability on the defensive end coupled with his solid scoring numbers, you can usually count on him to put up about 20 points a game—if his head was there.
Artest could be one of the premier players in the league. He is very similar to Rasheed Wallace. Both are extremely talented players who just can't buckle down and give a consistent effort night in and night out. That is the reason for all of the trade rumors constantly surrounding Artest.
The Kings do need to address some glaring weaknesses. They obviously need to improve the point-guard position after trading Mike Bibby to the Hawks. With the Western Conference already loaded with young, talented point guards such as Chris Paul, Daron Williams, Baron Davis, and Brandon Roy, the Kings need to either draft a point guard in the first round or pick one up in free agency.
Their best bet would probably be in the draft, which is ripe with talented point guards. There are a couple of very talented point guards in the draft that could drop to the Kings. With Derrick Rose most likely being off the board. the Kings should have a choice of either DJ Augustin out of Texas or Russell Westbrook out of UCLA.
I personally think that Augustin would be the better pick for the Kings, as he seems to be the more polished player, averaging more points and assists than Westbrook. He also seems to be more of a true point guard.
Augustin is a leader on the court. He would look great holding the reigns for the Sacramento Kings. Westbrook would be more of a work in progress. The Kings need someone who can come in and make an immediate impact. Augustin is that player.
If Joey Dorsey falls to them in the second round, he can really help them out on the defensive end. A lot of scouts compare his play to that of Ben Wallace. He could turn out to be one of the steals of the 2008 draft. If he falls to the Kings and pans out, it could mean great things for Sacramento in the future.
If the Kings can also add a dominant presence in the post—someone to take some of the load off of Brad Miller—I believe they will be in the middle of the playoff hunt in a year or two. Elton Brand will be a free agent. He would look great in a Kings uniform. It is all just a matter of how all the pieces fit together.
A lot of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Reggie Theus. His coaching ability will be tested over the next couple of years as the Kings will surely make some changes.
But Sacramento is headed in the right direction. I am looking forward to the beginning of next season, and seeing the pieces the Kings have added. In my opinion, they are off to a good start. If they can make the right decisions, and add some depth in the point guard and forward-center positions, I think they will be poised to make a run in the West.
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