NBA: Sacramento Kings’ Season Preview
Team Name: Sacramento Kings
Last Year’s Record: 33-49
Key Losses: Quincy Acy, James Anderson, Marco Belinelli, Seth Curry, Rajon Rondo,Seth Curry
Key Additions: Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Isaiah Cousins, Jordan Farmar, Skal Labissiere, Ty Lawson, Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The most significant move was hiring Dave Joerger as head coach. He had a .598 winning percentage in Memphis and made the playoffs in all three of his seasons there, most recently in spite of a massive injury epidemic affecting key players. He enjoys an excellent tactical reputation at both ends of the floor. Not re-signing Rajon Rondo is likely a plus given his propensity to be an assist whore and to avoid playing meaningful defense.
In free agency, the Kings were able to sign a large number of players to shore up their depth but were unable to land any players of major significance. The best of the lot is likely to be Arron Afflalo who can help with outside shooting, spacing and defense. The draft selections mostly duplicate the team’s strengths positionally and, while positive results may result in future seasons, the draftees are unlikely to produce much help this season.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
DeMarcus Cousins is as talented an any center in the Association and for sure he will get along better with, and perform better for, new coach Joerger. Willie Cauley-Stein’s defensive versatility is another plus. The team is so much deeper than last season, it is fair to call the bench a strength. And while it will take time to adjust to his preferences and incorporate his schemes, Coach Joerger may well be the biggest strength.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Team defense was nearly nonexistent last season. It should be better this year as a point of emphasis by the new coach but is difficult to see how it won’t be a weakness again. And, with so many new players, it will take time to develop defensive cohesiveness. Free Throw shooting was another weakness. Expect some improvement there with the departure of Rondo; the addition of Afflalo, Tolliver, Lawson and Barnes; and a generally less dysfunctional milieu that will likely result in improvement in all phases of the game. The loss of Darren Collison for an as yet undetermined number of games due to his domestic violence guilty plea seriously unsettles the team at point guard, where the best hope is that Ty Lawson can fill in if he is able to regain his pre-DUI ability of seasons past. Rudy Gay is not happy with his role, is not a great fit next to Cousins and a trade would not surprise.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Once again, there is no clear answer to this question. It seems that management’s top priority was to upgrade the roster enough to be presentable in the new state-of-the-art arena and to attempt to reduce some of the dysfunction so evident in recent seasons. While that will be a difficult task, Joerger may be the right selection to begin the assignment. 35 wins seems a fair goal.