Sacramento Kings: Breaking Down the 2011-2012 Roster
What's astoundingly clear: The Kings finished 24-58 last year, a mere 22 wins behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who upset the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. What exactly do the Kings need to do in order to make up 22 games? The long and short of it is that they need about three more years of gelling as a team before they can call themselves real playoff contenders. Much like their neighbors the Golden State Warriors, the Kings truly have the talent to win a playoff series. Hopefully, hiring Ex-Warriors coach Keith Smart as an assistant will be beneficial. Apparently, Smart doesn't shy away from a challenge. He just went from a bad 36 win team to an abysmal 24 win squad.
In any event, here's a look at the Kings roster for 2011-2012. If I sound like I don't know what I'm talking about, that might be true (but only if you tell me why). Remember, only 12 of these guys will dress up every night.
C DeMarcus Cousins
It's kind of impossible to tell how good DeMarcus Cousins is going to be. In fact, it's difficult to tell how good anyone is who plays on a 24-win team. What we do know is in this video and in his numbers: He averaged 14 points, almost 9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Those are pretty good numbers for anybody, let alone someone who was born in the 1990s.
He's extremely powerful, he sees the court much better than most centers, and he packs a punch on defense (when he's trying). He played center in college, and he's so big (6'11'', 270 pounds) that he's likely been playing his entire life.
About half way through last season, I bet a fellow Kings fan $50 that Cousins wouldn't get a triple double before the end of the year. Every game that I didn't see on TV, I could feel my stomach clenching as I checked the box score, worried that he had finally done it (he came within a couple of assists a number of times). He's a stud fantasy player, particularly because he averaged a block and a steal every game. I suspect on a team that played some closer games, he'd perform even better.
He finished 14th in the NBA in offensive rebounds, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. He's no Blake Griffin but expect Cousins to dominate in the key all zombie season. (At this point, the NBA season is still technically a zombie so let's continue to refer to it as that.)
Remember that he is barely of drinking age, so let's cut him some slack if he needs it, I guess.
C Samuel Dalembert
Dalembert was brought in to get boards and block shots. This video is from five years ago when Dalembert was in his prime, so let's not get too wrapped up in this one blocked shot. On the other hand, this video proves that Dalembert is what you might call a "roamer." He's not a guy that you put out on the floor and expect to be the centerpiece of your offense. Let's put it this way: I wouldn't be surprised if Dalembert only knew half of the Kings plays and none of their set pieces. He relies primarily on basketball instinct and does exactly what the Kings need him to do: He guards the heart. As you'll find out later, the Kings don't exactly play lock-down defense on the perimeter so Dalembert (even more than Cousins) provides a real presence in the defensive paint that the Kings need to win games.
Let's get this straight: The Kings currently have two guys that can play the five. One of them (Cousins) is at the beginning of a decade-long career and has the potential to be one of the best centers in the league. The other one (Dalembert) is at the end of what has been a very productive career.
F/G Marquis Daniels
After suffering an absolutely terrifying spinal injury (this is quite a somber video so beware) while with the Celtics last year, Marquis Daniels was traded to the Kings for cash. (Let's think about how irritating that is for a second. He was down on the floor for five minutes in front of his hometown crowd in Boston and luckily he didn't suffer any long-term damage. BUT, because he was useless to the C's for the remainder of the season, they traded him. A perfect example of how more fans should see sports as a business.)
Knowing that the Kings basically gave up cash for Daniels in order to reach the league's salary floor (75% of the total cap), it's unlikely Daniels will ever suit up for the Kings. I expect him to be gone before tip off on Christmas Day.
I really do like Daniels though. He's a great penetrator and a solid perimeter presence on offense. He's never averaged more than 14 points per game in his career but he's also never been a number one scorer (in Dallas and Indiana, he proved a very solid sixth man).
G Tyreke Evans
Far and away the most impressive thing about Tyreke is his ability to defend point guards. Like Cousins, he sometimes suffers from the "I don't want to play defense this series" syndrome, but when he's on, there's not many guys better than him when it comes to defending at the perimeter. He reminds me of Jason Kidd in his first stint with Dallas (purely on defense). Evans typically plays two or three but often takes the ball up the court for the Kings and is Westphal's "assasin" man. In other words, Tyreke will guard the other team's best player, regardless of their position (although he rarely guards centers).
His offensive skills are dominant to say the least. He can go right, left, or right at you with a "shake and bake" move (at the two minute mark in the video). His numbers are down from his rookie year but that is mostly because he missed 15 games in his sophomore season due to injury. He's an all around player that needs to work on his court vision and rebounding. Other than that, he's an outstanding player that the Kings no doubt feel very thankful for. Simply put, Tyreke is the King that everyone knows about and there's a reason why.
22 years old. Stop and think about that for a second. 22.
G Jimmer Fredette
I hated JJ Redick in college. He was one of the most irritating players to me because he seemed so one-dimensional. At Duke, he definitely was. In the NBA, he's developed into one of the more interesting role players in the game. He bulked up considerably, works harder than almost anyone, and he learned how to drive/dish and go to the hoop without fear.
Jimmer Fredette, out of BYU, will likely be very similar for the Kings. The fact is, 85% of guys in the NBA are role players, not stars. Redick plays for the Orlando Magic and is thus in the shadow of Dwight Howard (don't hold your breath on that one though, he could be gone very soon). That being said, Jimmer was the leading scorer in the NCAA last year. If Brandon Davies, one of BYU's best players, hadn't been suspended right before March Madness began, "Jimmer and the Fredettes" may have beat Florida in the Sweet 16 and moved on considerably.
It's easy to say that not just anyone in college has the experience to dominate in the NBA. This is probably the case with Jimmer, but that's okay. He has a few tools that will work on more than half the guys that defend him: a gnarly crossover (1:05 in the video), the ability to elevate and bomb threes despite his short 6'1" stature (1:43), and an explosive first step that allows him to drive (4:20) and avoid the fact that he's not fast but rather quick.
Some thoughts from Alex Kovaleff, high school prep scout:
"I’m interested in seeing him play off the ball. He likely won't be able to create shots in the NBA so his success will be finding smart ways to get open because he’s not very fast. For him to have success, he will have to be an under-sized shooting guard. He will be best on a fast-paced team that doesn't rely on defense."
The Kings aren't quite the Phoenix Suns in their Mike D'Antoni days but they could definitely be getting there. Jimmer could work in Westphal's system and will likely be a solid addition to the Kings' guard-heavy lineup.
F-G Francisco Garcia
The thing that frustrates me most about Francisco Garcia is the fact that he is just...such a KING! He's the classic example of a guy who isn't terrible, doesn't dominate, and frankly doesn't make much of an impression period. He's a solid backup and will play right around 25 mpg. He's never shot 40 percent from behind the arc and yet I feel like all I see is him chucking up threes.
One thing I will give him: The guy knows how to get a steal. It's something that the Kings are lacking in general. In his second and third year, Garcia played in 79/82 games and I'd like to see that from him again. He's been injured the last couple of years and it's difficult to tell how much (if any) promise he has for being a starter for the Kings again.
He's pretty athletic, and really the only reason that works against him is because the Kings don't play like a team (yet). I really think he'd be better suited as a role player on a contending team. The Celtics might like to have him, or even the Magic. With Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Marcus Thornton, and DeMarcus Cousins taking the majority of the shots, Garcia doesn't really have a place in Sacramento.
I just don't want to find myself thinking "ugh, Garcia" all the time again this year.
G Donte Greene
At Syracuse, this cat was dominant. For such a huge dude (6'11"), it's amazing that he dropped 90 threes in 35 games his freshman year at Syracuse.
He can definitely score, rebound, and play a little defense when he's on the court. Hopefully he continues to develop as a guy that can hit a three, block a shot, and run a fast break. There aren't many like him in the league. That being said, he's pretty slow, doesn't log very many minutes, and is relegated mostly to the bench for lack of stamina.
F J.J. Hickson
Hickson is a 3/4 guy that got traded at the 11th hour of the looming lockout from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Watching Hickson, you might be reminded of a young Jermaine O'Neal. (Quiet down, I said a young Jermaine O'Neal). His post moves are undeveloped and he does a lot of running around the court with his head cut off.
The solid thing about Hickson (which you'll note in the video) is that when he gets a block, HE GETS A BLOCK. Although he has averaged less than a block a game, he seems to always be on Sportscenter when he does get one.
Last year he averaged 13.8 ppg and 8.7 rpg. That of course was for the Cavs, who have little talent and little team-playing ability but then again, that's close to the same way I'd define the Kings. If Sacramento holds on to him (and they should, since they gave up Omri Casspi AND a first round pick), he could develop into a very good player.
Still 23 years old. That's a ton of time for improvement.
F Tyler Honeycutt
I doubt that Honeycutt will be on the 12-man roster (right away, anyway).
Despite the fact that he likely won't be on the team, he's insanely athletic and it's no surprise why he got drafted after his second year out of at UCLA. He can do pretty much everything on the court: drive, pass, board, shoot, and defend. He also averaged over two blocks a game in the Pac-10 last year. (Please ignore the fact that the Pac-10 has been extremely weak for the last few seasons.)
F Darnell Jackson
A few things to note for Jackson:
1. He works well with Cousins when they both penetrate and use each other inside. As mentioned before, Cousins sees the court extremely well for a big man and Jackson has some sort of connection with him that can't be explained.
2. He plays like nine minutes a game. (It's actually seven and a half, I just wanted to make him sound semi-useful.)
3. Is anyone going to be upset if I stop at three?
PG Eugene Jeter
Jeter is a great example of a guy that would dominate anywhere he plays—except for the NBA. He provided some interesting garbage minutes for the Kings last year. The one thing you think when he enters the game is "are we down by 20 already?"
He's super under-sized for the NBA at 5'11" but he does do a pretty good job of catching guys off guard and utilizing the drive and dish nicely. Fredette is better than Jeter. And, like it or not, Jimmer is going to be the third face of the franchise in three years. Thanks, Geoff Petrie.
Welcome to the Sacramento Kings.
G-F John Salmons
I don't really want to say anything about Salmons because I don't like his game and how selfish he plays. If he somehow (after eight years in the league) learns how to play with his teammates, he might be valuable. Chances of that happening? (Psst: zero.)
He had a few flashes in the pan back in his old Kings days (first clip in the video) but that doesn't make me feel any better. I'd love to be excited about this move but so much depends on how his teammates respond to him so it's impossible to crack a smile at this point. He will shoulder the load scoring-wise if Evans and/or Cousins gets injured and if Thornton acts like a child. So there's that.
G Isaiah Thomas
Meh. I hope he becomes more than a wily PG at some point. Like Honeycutt, he totally dominated the Pac-10 (children's playground) last year.
F Jason Thompson
For three years at the beginning of the '00s (is there a name for that decade yet?), the Kings were a little bit like the Harlem Globetrotters. Or, rather, Gerald Wallace was on the Kings and he should have been playing for the Harlem Globetrotters. The entire ten minutes he was in the game was heart-stopping: He'd fly around the court grabbing steals, getting psychotic blocks, and posterizing entire arenas (this video is just sad since it's against the Kings but it's the best example of how dumb the Kings are for giving him up).
Jason Thompson could be the next Gerald Wallace. Nobody agrees with me since Wallace, on paper, is really a lot better. Just wait. I will be vindicated. And don't read this.
G Marcus Thornton
Thornton reminds me of the guy you guard that can do nothing wrong. You work your butt off, sprint up and down the court with him, try to shoot gaps to keep the ball away from him, and nothing works. He's perma on-fire. Which, for a basketball player, is the golden ticket.
He's pretty good off the ball as well. Despite the fact that he is another example of a guy that the Kings don't really need on their team (they have three scorers already in Salmons, Evans, and Cousins), he can give the Kings some solid bench presence in multiple games down the stretch. When you win 24 games a season, it seems like the season is already over by the All-Star break anyway.
He tore up the SEC in scoring at LSU and for the most part, he fits into the category of "I've been a stud since I was a fetus, so I'm going to take every shot possible." Good kid though. Hustles quite a bit more than you would expect a pure scorer to.
C Hassan Whiteside
He did play at Marshall though. Remember Jason Williams?!?!?! I do. Please do not get these two confused.