Sacramento Kings: 30 Team Previews in 30 Days
Finished 25-57, fifth in Pacific Division, 14th in Western Conference.
Additions and Re-Signings
DeMarcus Cousins via draft, Samuel Dalembert via trade, Darnell Jackson via trade, Pooh Jeter via free agency, Hassan Whiteside via draft, and Antoine Wright via free agency.
Jon Brockman via trade, Spencer Hawes via trade, Andres Nocioni via trade, Sean May via free agency, and Dominic McGuire via free agency.
Shhh, do you hear that? No? Good, because that's the sound of a sleeper.
The Sacramento Kings might have only won 25 games last season and finished only a few games away from ending up dead last in the Western Conference, but they saw stellar development in their two biggest hopeful's for the future in reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and Israeli import Omri Casspi.
Evans shocked many last season by becoming only the fourth rookie in NBA history to averaged at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in their rookie season. He dropped 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds in his first season as the team's starting point guard.
How many games will the Kings win?
The other four players to average 20-5-5 in their rookie season? Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. Not too bad of company.
Evans is an oddity for a point guard considering his height at 6'6", but much like Magic Johnson did as a 6'9" point guard, he uses his height to his advantage by being able to see the court clearer and to use his size against opposing point guards who obviously have a difficult time guarding a player that is a few inches taller than the average player at that position. He possesses a strong ability to drive, as well as shoot and averaged 46% shooting from the field on his way to a deserved Rookie-of-the-Year award.
The other up-and-comer from last season is Omri Casspi, who surprised last many with his impressive range and dangerous offensive game. Usually coming off the bench to average 25 minutes per game, Omri was a huge three-point threat as a rookie and averaged one three-pointer per game on 37% shooting, while scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds along the way.
Omri will see more playing time as the team's number one three-point shooter now due to the departure of Andres Nocioni, who led the team in three-pointer's last season. At 6'9", Casspi holds an advantage over opposing defenders with his height advantage and astounding shooting ability.
A future Peja Stojakovic in the works? We'll see. Hopefully for the Kings, this player stays healthy.
Evans and Casspi aren't the only young guns on this team ready to take over the league as their newest acquisitions in DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside could form one of the more dangerous front court's in the league in the near future.
The former Kentucky Center Cousins is a strong body who can play as a hard-nosed defender, while adding an offensive game to boot.
Cousins averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks last season and showed off a very impressive defensive game and a mid-range shot that he is able to create on his own which is a huge plus to any aspiring rookie. A big man with footwork in this league is one of the largest advantages you can possess and the Kings might have received the next post threat to clog the paint.
The other draft pick-up in Hassan Whiteside out of Marshall might not possess the cleanest offensive game, but at over five blocks per game, you can't ask for much more from a seven footer. The Kings desperately needed a shot blocker aside from Samuel Dalembert and got it in Whiteside, who could see himself as the next starting center in the future.
Carl Landry received the first starting role of his career as he joined the Kings in the fourth quarter of the season and showed a lot of promise in the role as the team's starting power forward. The now fifth-year player averaged 18 points and six rebounds last season while shooting 52% from the field and providing the team with a reliable swing man who has proven to be a consistent offensive player over the course of his four year career.
With Tyreke Evans and a plethora of youth surrounding him converts the Kings into one of the future contenders of the Western Conference. Sacramento hasn't seen post season success in a few years, but could be fighting for a spot within the next few seasons as Evans will continue to impress the league with his versatility and ability to read the court at 6'6".
The next Magic Johnson is a stretch, but the Kings are looking for players that can help lead them to the promise land once again. Whether they have found the next dynamic duo in Evans and Cousins, we'll have to see. One thing is for sure though and that is the Kings are taking the right steps to becoming the future of the Western Conference.
Projected Starting Lineup
This is part 25 in a 30-day series of previews for each NBA team for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. My profile contains the other teams that I have already previewed.
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