Sacramento Kings: Final 2011 Report Cards for DeMarcus Cousins and Co.
More was spoken and written about the Sacramento Kings potential relocation in 2010-11 than their actual on-court performance.
With the relocation situation settled for at least one more year, it's time to look back and evaluate the individual performance of each player during the 2010-11 campaign.
Players will be graded on their on-court performance, their development from the previous season and how important a role they played in the team's success.
Paul Westphal, Head Coach
Paul Westphal has been cursed with one of the youngest and least talented rosters in the entire league since his arrival in Sacramento. His rotations have been perplexing, often times sitting some of his key performers in favor of journeymen. His starting lineups can best be described as musical chairs, and he has an inexplicable devotion to Tyreke Evans.
Westphal's record with the Sacramento Kings is 49-117, it's hard to expect a ton more than that, but name me a coach that couldn't have led the Kings to 49 wins in two years combined.
Samuel Dalembert, Center
A nagging adductor strain injury riddled Samuel Dalembert for the first several weeks of the season. Consequently, Dalembert fell out of favor with the coaching staff and both his role in the starting lineup as well as his consistent minutes fluctuated. It didn't help that the Kings frontcourt had five guys battling for minutes.
As the year wore on, Sam became perhaps the most reliable contributor to the team, particularly the last several weeks. Seemingly every time he was given 25 minutes, he responded with a double-double.
His 8.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks don't begin to tell the impact that Dalembert had for the Kings in 2010-11.
DeMarcus Cousins, Power Forward
As is the case with all young players when they first enter the league, DeMarcus Cousins enjoyed the highest and highs and the lowest of lows in 2010-11.
There were multiple low points, like the time he questioned Tyreke Evans about decision making on the court seconds after an overtime loss. The time he was suspended for a road game in Phoenix for comments detrimental to the team. Or the flurry of technical fouls he received over the course of his rookie season. Nobody in the league committed more personal fouls than Cousins in 2010. And only four players turned the ball over more.
But there were many high points as well. There were the back-to-back impressive wins Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 against the Lakers and Hornets when DMC registered 27 points and 10 rebounds, then followed that up with a 25 point, 12 rebound and seven assist outing. There was also the thirty and nine he put on Kendrick Perkins and the Oklahoma City Thunder on the second to last game of the year.
By any measure, by the close of the season DeMarcus Cousins was easily one of the league's top rookies. His 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest have the Kings looking forward to years of growth and production from their prized young big man.
Francisco Garcia, Small Forward
Perhaps no team played musical chairs with any one position like the Sacramento Kings and their respective small forward slot. Omri Casspi, Donte Greene and Francisco Garcia split the role almost evenly three ways.
Whether Francisco Garcia comes off the bench or serves as a starter, he always brings maximum effort and an indelible three-point jump shot.
Garcia missed more than a month with an ankle injury but provided some much needed veteran leadership for his young club.
Tyreke Evans, Shooting Guard
Tyreke Evans followed up a historic rookie campaign with what was quite possibly the worst sophomore season for anyone who has ever won the Rookie of the Year award.
To be fair, Evans dealt with a plantar fasciitis issue which slowed his penetration as well as his lateral quickness.
When the physical skills weren't there due to the injury, Evans had absolutely nothing to fall back on by way of his weak court vision and his nonexistent outside jump shot.
Tyreke finished the year with respectable season averages of 17.8 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds but his shooting percentages of 40.9 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from three illustrate how unproductive a year it truly was.
Going forward, there are legitimate concerns about where to play Tyreke Evans. Shooting guard is a natural fit, but he can't shoot his way out of a paper bag. Point guard might've worked, but Evans is clueless at setting up teammates. The Kings aren't even considering moving their prized former Rookie of the Year, so his development means everything to this franchise.
Beno Udrih, Point Guard
Beno Udrih will never make an All-Star team. He will never win a meaningful individual award. His name will never be brought up amongst the elite point guards in the league.
But Beno Udrih may be the most complete offensive player on the Sacramento Kings.
Udrih averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 assists, shot 50 percent from the floor and nearly 36 percent from three and 86 percent from the free-throw stripe.
As efficient an offensive player he is, Udrih's perimeter defense is amongst the worst in the league.
Marcus Thornton, Shooting Guard
If there was a single soul that knew the unbelievable impact Marcus Thornton would make for the Sacramento Kings, that person should play the lottery and catch a flight to Las Vegas immediately.
Marcus Thornton stepped right in and added a dynamic scoring threat from day one in a Kings uniform. His arrival helped solve the quagmire that was the frontcourt rotation, plus it added a bona fide scorer for a team that desperately needed it.
Thornton's stellar play while in Sacramento was easily one of the high points of the season for the Kings.
Donte Greene, Small Forward
Donte Greene has now been in a Sacramento Kings uniform for three seasons, and we still don't know much about the kid.
Greene was in and out of the starting lineup. His shooting percentages mirror that of Tyreke Evans, shooting worse than 41 percent from the field and not even 30 percent from three. Greene is a fascinating specimen because of his legitimate 6'11", 226 lb. frame, but through three seasons in the NBA, the only thing the Syracuse product has proven to be is inconsistent.
Donte did put forth more effort defensively than he had any prior year, but his offensive woes drag him down.
Jason Thompson, Power Forward
After Carl Landry was traded away and coach Paul Westphal's frontcourt rotation became more solidified, Jason Thompson stopped pressing and really found a groove.
Thompson ended the season embracing his role as the first player off the bench and contributing on a nightly basis with his steady midrange jumpshot and timely defensive rotations.
JT figures to be a prominent player in the Kings rotation for years to come.
Omri Casspi, Small Forward
Since Casspi was drafted by the Kings, he too has been the victim of incredibly inconsistent minutes.
Omri has flirted with the starters role, served as one of the primary players off the bench and also has been relegated to the end of the bench.
During the last 12 games of the season, Omri logged just 16 minutes and was even quoted as saying he'd welcome a trade if he continued to rot at the end of the bench.
Why he fell so far out of favor in coach Westphal's rotation is anyone's guess, but it should be noted that he was the best three-point shooter on the team in 2010-11, and he always competes hard defensively.
Pooh Jeter, Point Guard
Pooh Jeter proved early and often that he belonged on an NBA roster in 2010-11.
In his first real chance, Jeter had a lot of positives moments and served as a patient floor leader and a capable shot maker. Pooh Jeter has a chance at an Anthony Johnson-type career.
Darnell Jackson, Power Forward
D Block, as he is affectionately known in Sacramento, served as a veteran role player who played wiser than his experience would suggest.
Darnell Jackson was more interested in team performance than individual statistics, and obviously team-first players like that are at a premium.
Jackson never got consistent minutes, but when he was in the game, he more often than not was contributing in someway.
Jermaine Taylor, Shooting Guard
Easily the best athlete on the team, Jermaine Taylor got very little opportunity in 2010-11, but when he did, he typically made the most of it.
Taylor shot well from the field and the free-throw line, and the team played noticeably faster when he was in the game at shooting guard.
When Tyreke Evans returned from his injury the last month, Taylor was relegated to the bench.