The Sacramento Kings Are Ready to Return to Respectability

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The Sacramento Kings Are Ready to Return to Respectability
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

2009-10 Regular Season: 25-57
2009-10 Playoffs: N/A
Additions: DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, Samuel Dalembert, Luther Head, Antoine Wright
Key Losses: Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni, Jon Brockman, Ime Udoka
Projected Rotation Players: Tyreke Evans, Carl Landry, DeMarcus Cousins, Beno Udrih, Donte Greene, Jason Thompson, Samuel Dalembert, Omri Casspi, Francisco Garcia, Luther Head

Look for the 2010-11 Sacramento Kings to play with a lot of confidence, win games they're not supposed to, and make a run at .500.

In fairness, the 2010-11 Kings will probably also lose a few games that they’re expected to win. Such is typically the fate of young, talented teams that are still developing an identity.

Of the league’s non-marquee teams, the Kings will probably be the most compelling. This team features an impressive collection of young talent, led by reigning Rookie of the Year and probable 2011 All-Star Tyreke Evans. In 2009-10, Evans became just the fourth rookie in NBA history (Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Oscar Robertson are the others) to average 20+ ppg, 5+ rpg, and 5+ apg, and there’s little reason to believe that he can’t pick up where he left off.

Combine his strength, which helps him flourish as a penetrator and a defensive stopper, with his awesome talent, and Evans looks poised to cement his place in the top-tier of NBA stars.

If he’s been able to add consistency and range to his jump shot over the summer, he could be one of the league’s toughest matchups.

Evans is flanked by a posse of long, strong, talented players. First up is DeMarcus Cousins, the fifth pick (top-two on talent, but he’s faced questions about his maturity) in June and potentially the steal of the draft.

Cousins is an extremely skilled big man—versatile and aggressive on offense, a good passer, and a beast on the glass. He can beat most big men off the dribble, has a bit of range on his jumper, can bang inside, and also has some finesse around the basket.

He could put up a double-double campaign as a rookie and will rival 2009 first overall pick Blake Griffin and his former University of Kentucky teammate John Wall for Rookie of the Year honors.

Alongside Cousins up front is a skilled trio that collectively possesses all the attributes you look for on the court.

Carl Landry is an excellent inside scorer with some athleticism. He has a solid complement of post moves, finishes well around the basket, and gets to the free throw line (over five FTA per game last season). A starting NBA PF with his size (6’9” 250 lbs.) should be good for more than 5.9 rpg, but this is an area where he can definitely improve.

As a matter of fact, this may be the season Landry makes the leap, as he’s entering a contract year.

Behind Landry on the depth chart is Jason Thompson, the 12th pick in the 2008 draft. Thompson has great size (6’11” 250 lbs.), is a very good rebounder (about 8 per 30 minutes; 3 orpg), and can finish around the basket.

Finally, there’s Samuel Dalembert, acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers after nine seasons. If he gets minutes, he’ll be the solid 11-11 guy (per 36 minutes, career) that he’s been for nearly a decade now, and will be huge help on the offensive glass (3.7 per 36) and in the paint on defense (2.7 blocks per 36).

In the backcourt and on the wings, Evans will have a range of options from which to choose, with Donte Green (an athletic 6’11” forward) and second-year man Omri Casspi at the small forward position, with Francisco Garcia, Beno Udrih, and Luther Head rounding out Sacto’s backcourt rotation.

Between Evans, Cousins, Landry, Thompson, Udrih, and Casspi, the Kings have six potential 15+ ppg scorers and are well-positioned to be a deep source of fantasy basketball production.

On those nights when a majority of these guys (most importantly Evans and Cousins) have their “A games,” the Kings have the potential to put up huge numbers and slay the NBA’s giants.

In fairness, there will probably be more than a few other nights...

Bottom line: Vegas has the over-under on regular seasons wins for the Kings at 27.5. With two mega-talents like Evans and Cousins leading the charge, and with a well-rounded group of legitimate NBA players surrounding them, this figure could prove laughably low.

It's not clear if the Kings are ready to make a serious playoff push in 2010-11, but if healthy, these Kings are a virtual lock to win at least 35 games and should make a run at the franchise’s first winning record since 2005-06.

 

To read more of my team-by-team NBA season previews, please visit hardwoodhype.blogspot.com.

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