The Sacramento Kings named Keith Smart the head coach in 2012 with hopes that his new ideas and methods will help the organization become a better basketball team. However, in the two years he coached the Kings, not only did he failed to improve the team’s record and chemistry, but he also lost the respect of many players.
The Sacramento Kings were 20-39 in Smart’s first season (there were only 59 games due to the players’ lockout) and 28-54 this past season. This record does not justify all the talent the Kings had on their roster.
Smart has a lot of talent on his roster, but his head-scratching methods and inconsistent spread of playing time really stunned the growth and production of four players in particular.
Tyreke Evans had a phenomenal rookie season, winning numerous awards including the 2009-2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. However, he hasn’t been able to reproduce those same numbers this past season due to injuries and inconsistent playing time.
DeMarcus Cousins is a hard-headed center that may be trouble for some coaches; however, one cannot deny how talented he is on the basketball court. Smart choose to bench Cousins numerous times when the Kings needed him the most. For example, in a 117-108 loss to Dallas, Cousins only played nine minutes. Smart surprisingly decided to have Patrick Patterson, Travis Outlaw and James Johnson end the game instead of their best player.
Isaiah Thomas was a pleasant surprise for the Kings this year. He was a consistent threat for the opposition, regardless of his inconsistent minutes. He expressed his concern about the inconsistent playing time in an interview last month.
“It’s just tough as a player,” Thomas said Friday. “I always say that when you have inconsistent minutes, you’re going to have inconsistent production.
And finally, in a game against the Houston Rockets, Marcus Thornton had a huge game scoring 21 points in just 22 minutes. However, in the following game, Smart decided to only play him for five and a half minutes.
These four players are big-time players for the Kings. In a 121-112 victory over the Phoenix suns, Thomas, Evans, Thornton and Cousins all scored over 20 points (80 percent of the Kings’ scoring). Smart had a lot of weapons on his roster, but he just didn’t know how to effectively use them.
Smart was given the opportunity to help this franchise turn around, but he was not able to make any significant progress. Maybe it’s best if he goes back to being an assistant coach because he still has a lot to learn. Being a head coach of an NBA team is probably not the best fit for Smart at the moment.
Regardless of where the Sacramento Kings may end up next season, I don’t see the organization bringing Smart along the uncertain ride.