6 Steps the Sacramento Kings Can Take To Get Back Into Contention
The 2011 Sacramento Kings have a lot of work to do. A Popularity boost from rookie Jimmer Fredette will put opening day fans into a new reason for excitement.
Building and maintaining that attraction will take significant efforts from management and staff.
To avoid the early tagging of rebuilding in regards to the 2011 season the Kings need to develop potential and define roles from the onset of the new season.
Six key steps can help turn the struggling franchise back towards contention and their first post season berth since 2006.
Find a Place for Francisco Garcia
Sacramento Kings guard Francisco Garcia has played a total of 83 games over the past two seasons.
Since the freak accident of an exercise ball explosion accident fractured his arm he has been functionally removed from the team game plan.
Garcia is one of the few Kings that has remained on the roster since his draft in the 2005 round.
His career 44.2 percent shooting is one of the few consistent notes in recent Kings box scores. He also provides a defensive presence on the perimeter that is a benefit to the team.
He has started less than one third of his career (110/373 games), but has been around the NBA long enough to identify approaches to guarding the league's best.
He also brings an understanding of team play from his NCAA Final Four run in 2005 and international experience.
Francisco Garcia is contracted through 2013 and will be a fixture as a role player. Finding playing time for him secures a positive team player and role model for newcomers.
Naming Starters and Being Consistent
Musical chairs in the starting rotation are just bad for player morale. Selecting a starting five for consistency and foundation building is critical to reaching season goals.
Coach Paul Westphal juggles players so much last year that role players could not be defined because of the instability of playing time.
Setting five players to work the team around gives clear hierarchy to playing time and sets the basis for building defined roles.
The lack of discipline for young players is a failure to plan for the future of the Kings team.
Defining Player Roles and Expectations
Extending eleven players deep on a consistent basis ruins player rhythm.
When the Kings fall into slumps they often have to wait extended periods of games to recover.
This cycle causes systematic issues that further frustrate team morale.
Last season the competition that has resulted from similar players like Donte Greene, Omri Casspi, and Francisco Garcia resulted in chemistry problems rather than developing productive players.
Internal pressure boiled over onto the court during periods where losing magnified team struggles. Players appeared open despondent and were not responding to their coach.
Clear layout of a depth chart and roles will reduce the pressure on newcomers like Jimmer Fredette to find their place within the team and function inside the unit.
Post Up the Pacific Division
For the Sacramento Kings to have four large bodies and not work the paint is a shame.
The limited size of the Western Conference and Pacific Division opponents offer opportunities for back to the basket exposure.
If Jason Thompson, Demarcus Cousins, and Hassan Whiteside develop a post game they would become much more efficient scorers for their team.
Develop Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson is a durable player that needs minutes to grow at the NBA level.
At age 25 he has a considerable upside. He is averaging better than seven rebounds per game with only 27 minutes played.
Given more floor time will instill the confidence he needs to take the next step as a viable NBA big man.
Given guidance Jason Thompson is the combination of athleticism and strength that will suit the Kings well on the low block for many years to come.
Declare Tyreke Evans Captain and Point Guard
Tyreke Evans had a reduced effectiveness in 2011 suffering injuries and was wells scouted for his rookie tendencies.
His scoring, rebounding, and assists were down from his first year in the NBA.
Evans is undoubtedly the future of the franchise. His size and handling make him a threatening candidate for starting point guard.
At 6'6" he is able to see the court and his considerable agility would make him a domineering floor general.
He is respected by his team mates and needs to step up to be the face of the team.
Two year of experience have shown a more mature player able to face the media and deal with the slumps of a struggling team.
Building around Evans as he starts his third season will give him the power to match his potential and grow in experience.
Being the main scoring threat will also allow him to dish assists and draw double teams to take the pressure off the rest of the lineup.