Sacramento Kings: State Of The Franchise, December 2, 2008

Jason ColdironCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2008

Now that we’re past Thanksgiving and into December, it’s time to look at where the Kings are as a team.

Let’s start with the bad. As of this moment, the Kings have lost six-straight home games, and are just 5-14 overall.

We all knew that the Kings were going to be rebuilding. One of the things that goes with rebuilding is trouble closing out games. The Kings have fallen victim to that trend, having played poorly in the last minute of games. Among other problems, the team never seems to use their foul to give correctly. I like Reggie Theus, but that’s a fundamental coaching issue.

The Kings have mostly employed the high-post offense. They have had limited success with it. They seem to be doing better in the basic pick and roll sets with Beno Udrih making plays. In light of the losing record and all the young players on this team, I’m wondering if it might be time to simplify things a bit more.

With a team full of young guys shouldn’t we be doing things to emphasize their quickness and energy? Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia, Bobby Brown, and Beno Udrih—they are basically the future of this team.

I look at those players, and I think that this team could and hopefully will be really good in another year or two. I see a core that could defend, shoot, pass and dribble. I see a couple of guys that will be among the best at their position (Martin and Hawes). I see a couple other guys with great potential.

Most importantly, I see a group that could play together. They just need the right plan.

Is Reggie Theus the right guy to take this group to the next level? I’m not sure. I’d like him to be. It would be a great story for the franchise.

On the other hand, I think of someone like the currently unemployed Flip Saunders and wonder what he could do with this group. I think that could be special.

Regardless of who is coaching, the thing that disturbs me the most is that the team seems to often lack a plan on offense. They’ll run a few set plays, then they get stagnant and don’t seem to know what to do. I’m hoping that getting back Kevin Martin and Fransisco Garcia will help this problem. Those are guys that will take the ball and make something happen for themselves or their teammates.

On defense there seems to be a general lack of effort far too often. The main thing you need to play defense is effort. When the other team is running layup drills on you, that’s just a lack of effort. That is something the Kings have shown too much of this season.

On the positive side,  Jason Thompson looks like a fantastic draft choice. Spencer Hawes has shown growth and ability at both ends of the floor. He has a sweet jump shot and has post moves he can finish with either hand around the rim.

Hawes has also shown the ability to be an effective weak-side shot blocker. Hawes has a chance to be one of the elite centers in the game. Kings fans, here’s your frontcourt of the future—Hawes and Thompson.

John Salmons has shown he can play. With a wing rotation of Martin, Salmons and Garcia the Kings will have some firepower. The thing I love about this group is that they have similar skill sets and can do many things. They can all basically play and defend three positions. They can all shoot, handle the ball and get to the rim.

I really think that this group could be explosive if used correctly. I would love to see some imagination on offense. Make the other team switch, draw and kick, get out and run, make things happen. I don’t see many teams that would look forward to defending those guys.

When this team went into rebuilding mode, it was said that the team wanted to bring in a different style of player. They wanted to start bring in guys that are aggressive and athletic. Looking at it right now, I’d have to say that Kings general manager Geoff Petrie has done a good job of doing that. The roster is mostly full of young, athletic, attacking style of players.

The other positive, if it can be seen that way, is all the injuries the Kings have already sustained. Key injuries to Martin, Garcia and Mikki Moore have set them back. As those guys start to come back and get back into things the team will get a big boost.

I’m looking forward to the Kings playing much better basketball in the next month of the season and heading toward the new year with hope. We’ll see what happens.