What Should the Sacramento Kings Expect out of J.J. Hickson?

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What Should the Sacramento Kings Expect out of J.J. Hickson?
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This NBA lockout is driving me further and further from sanity every day.

I’m not losing my mind in a literal sense (I don't think), but my basketball perspective is definitely starting to go.

In my mind, J.J. Hickson is using this extra time off to transform into an absolute beast. He is lifting weights. He is dominating local college kids in pickup games.

He has spent a good amount of time on the beach, but instead of sipping mai tai’s and pina coladas, he is flipping tractor tires and sprinting up and down sand dunes to increase his explosiveness.

None of these thoughts are based in any kind of reality, of course. Sure, there’s a chance that this is how Hickson has spent his extended offseason.

But it’s much more likely that he is spending it the same way that any kid in their early 20s with a couple mil in the bank would spend it…and that ain’t flipping tractor tires.

When I get an assignment asking me to predict what the Kings can expect from Hickson in his first year in the purple and black, my first instinct is to predict outlandishly great things not only for Hickson himself, but for all of his teammates.

In reality though, the Kings can probably expect more of the same from Hickson; 13-14 PPG, 8-9 RPG, some subpar shooting percentages and maybe a block here or there.

They can expect him to take some time to mesh with Cousins and to fill Sacramento’s paint with increased speed and quickness. As much as I want to predict a giant step forward—maybe something like 17 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.5 BPG and increased efficiency—this probably isn’t realistic.

That is an important thing for Kings fans to remember, should the 2012 season ever actually happens. What you can expect and what you should expect are two totally different things.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

We can all imagine what Sacramento’s young core is capable of if all of our wildest expectations are met:

Jimmer Fredette draining threes like he’s back in Utah with some WAC defender “guarding” him. Tyreke Evans learning a thing or two from Fredette and developing a jump shot of his own.

DeMarcus Cousins not whining like a little girl with a skinned knee, and dominating the Western Conference like I think he can.

John Salmons…well, even in my wildest dreams John Salmons isn’t very good, but you get the idea. We can expect these things, but we shouldn’t.

We should expect Fredette to struggle out of the gate, both on the offensive end (where he will see defenders with elite size, strength and athleticism on a nightly basis for the first time in his life) and the defensive end (BYU could hide his defensive shortcomings. There’s nowhere to hide a crappy defender in the NBA).

We should expect Evans to act like he’s 2, because he is. We should expect Cousins to act like he’s 10, because that’s what he does.

To bring this article back to something close to its original topic, we shouldn’t expect Hickson to set the NBA on fire. Yes, he’s young. Yes, he has a world of talent. But there’s also a reason the Kings were able to pick him up in exchange for an ineffective eighth man.

Whether or not Hickson is spending his down time adding to his game and sharpening his focus, the team he will join come basketball time has a lot of work to do. What we can expect from this group and what we should expect are two entirely different things.

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