30 In 30: Sacramento Kings


Mar 30, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts after being called for a foul against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

LY W-L: 28-54

Key Additions: Ben McLemore, Greivis Vasquez, Carl Landry, Ray McCallum, Luc Mbah a Moute, Mike Malone(head coach)

Key Departures: Tyreke Evans and Toney Douglas

Analysis: Luckily for loyal Kings fans, your favorite team will not be relocated to the northwest — Seattle.

Sacramento did a great job cleaning out the garbage and added new faces to the front office along with a new coaching staff — hiring Mike Malone who was an assistant coach for Golden State, three assistant coaches, a general manager and an assistant general manager.

The Kings have been a been a punching bag in the west for the past five years, and need to pinpoint players to build the roster around. They secured the sharpshooting Ben McLemore in the first round. The Kansas product is criticized for not asserting himself and not being a “give me the ball and I’ll score” type of guy, but he could find a nice role as a spot up three-point shooter since DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, and Marcus Thorton will soak up most of the possessions. McLemore shot a boiling 42% from distance in his only season at Kansas.

Entering his last year of his contract before a qualifying offer in the 2014-2015 season, the ever so confusing DeMarcus Cousins is playing for a max contract that he may or may not deserve. There’s no denying the talent he displays every night, he’s practically a walking double-double — 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in 75 games — the dispute is can he become a reliable defender and someone who elevates his team’s level of play. Instead of pouting when he believes he is fouled and not putting forth tolerable effort on defense, Cousins must  transform into a player that inspires teammates and demands the ball in crunch-time, and delivers. At 22, this a big year for Cousins, who could excel with a new culture surrounding him.

The Kings acquired the NBA’s leading assist man, Greivis Vasquez, from New Orléans via trade. In New Orléans, Vasquez averaged nine assists per game and just over four rebounds. Vasquez is steady in the pick-and-roll, and bound to find riches with Patrick Patterson and Carl Landry in pick-and-pop scenarios — Landry and Patterson are both exceptional mid-range shooters. Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez will take over ball handling duties because of the loss of Tyreke Evans.

Acquiring Luc Mbah a Moute via trade, promotes a defensive culture that Sacramento hasn’t had in past years. Mbah a Moute took on the assignment of defending LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Milwaukee’s first round loss to the Miami Heat. Despite that he doesn’t have a reliable three-point shot or the ability to get to the free throw line, Mbah a Moute is certain to play adequate minutes because of his energy, rebounding, and defense.

(Projected) 2013-2014 W-L: 31-51

If the Kings want to win over 30 games since the 2007-2008 season, they’ll have to fix their defensive woes. They were the 29th ranked defense last season — giving up a whopping 108.6 points per possession. Can the core of DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Greivis Vasquez and Marcus Thornton muster 30 wins? I think so. If DeMarcus Cousins buys into Mike Malone’s system, he could be on his way to a max contract and the interpretations in the public will change.