He had great intensity. He was perhaps the most competitive individual in the history of the sport. He possessed absurd athleticism. But perhaps as important as all of those traits, Michael Jordan's drive to add to his already brilliant repertoire every offseason is what made him the greatest of all time.
For a young, developing team like the Sacramento Kings, the work put in this summer could potentially make a profound impact. While competing Western Conference squads duke it out in the playoffs, the Kings have been on vacation since April 14. In other words, this is the time and place where improvement on the court truly takes form. I have compiled a list of the area(s) each player should work on until they report for either summer league in July, or for training camp in October. (Side note: only players under contract for 2010-11 will be evaluated).
Tyreke Evans - It's been said a million times that if Tyreke adds a consistent mid-range, he'd be unguardable. The fact is, he is nearly unguardable as is. With the addition of a consistent jump shot, Evans would hold opposing guards at his mercy. By the end of his rookie year, intelligent defenders learned to back off of Evans and dare him to shoot rather than drive. When and if Tyreke's jumper improves, he enters Deron Williams-Derrick Rose stratosphere.
Beno Udrih - Trying to defend opposing point guards in this day and age, particularly with the no contact rules in place, is nearly impossible. Despite this, I think Udrih would be well-served if he put in work to improve his lateral quickness. I believe Beno tries to compete defensively, but struggles to stay in front of his man. Reasonable growth defensively out of the Slovenian guard would make a solid impact for the Kings.
Jason Thompson - Jason is a young player who has a lot going for him. He has an ideal NBA body at 6'11", 250 lbs. and could do for the Kings what Al Horford does for the Atlanta Hawks. If Jason were to supplement his outstanding defensive and rebounding abilities with a couple go to moves in the post, he'd see a major bump in his offensive role and production. His mid-range shot is already money, so the arrival of a running hook and a turn around hook is all that's keeping him from averaging 18 points a game in my eyes.
Donté Greene - If you would've asked me this time last year, I would've told you Donté has more weaknesses than strengths. But his 2009-10 season showcased a lot of Greene's assets, particularly his three point range. I believe Donté needs to focus hard on his shot selection. He is best served as a spot shooter, not trying to create for himself off of the dribble. His jumper is a thing of beauty when his feet are set and he catches the ball cleanly. He is far less efficient when he raises up to shoot after an attempted crossover or a hesitation dribble move.
Spencer Hawes - When centers prepare to play against the Kings, they must salivate at the chance to go at Spencer Hawes in the low post. Spence's glaring weakness is his matador defense. I think the addition of 10-15 lbs. of muscle this off-season would provide Hawes with a better chance of preventing deep post position from opposing big men. Too often he gets bullied by Chris Kaman, Dwight Howard, and Andrew Bynum. Hawes will never be an overly physical defender, but neither was Vlade Divac. If your center isn't going to block shots, he should be taking charges. Hawes, at this early juncture of his young career, does neither with regularity.
Carl Landry - 5.8 rebounds per game would be an outstanding average, for a starting point guard. For a power forward who plays nearly 38 minutes a night, that figure must rise. Among all 30 starting power forwards in the NBA, Carl Landry's paltry 5.8 rebounds a game is dead last. Despite being undersized for the position at 6'9", Carl must rectify his pitiful rebounding situation.
Omri Casspi - As the owner of the quickest shot release on the team, Omri showed a penchant for knocking down triples in bunches. However by the end of the season, Casspi became a one trick pony of sorts. Omri's mid-range could use more consistency. Outstanding three point shooters are dangerous, but outstanding three point shooters who can use escape dribbles and pull up from mid-range are lethal.
Andrés Nocioni - Like several members of the Sacramento Kings, Nocioni has an exquisite jumper. Something Nocioni doesn't always possess is the best shot selection. I think Andrés needs to display a bit more patience at times. A sign of a selfish team is when a guy shoots whenever he gets it because he fears he won't get the ball back. That describes Nocioni to a tee. It's crucial that he trusts the ball will swing back to him. Andrés must be more selective with his shot, particularly as one of the veterans of this young team.
Francisco García - The longest tenured King, Cisco is a guy who rookie and sophomore players on the team look to for leadership and guidance. By all accounts, Cisco is a good "team guy." However it still seems like García is quick to blame his teammates rather than coach teammates. I would like to see Francisco focus on being a positive role model. On the plus side, Garcia consistently competes on the defensive end and is blessed with above average offensive skills.
Jon Brockman - Jon Brockman will never be a dominant scoring threat in the NBA. But what Jon Brockman could be is an elite rebounding force. Brockman's physical similarities to Paul Millsap is uncanny. The addition of a reasonably steady jump shot would help space the floor for Tyreke Evans.