The Sacramento Kings are seven years removed from a .500 season and a playoff berth. In that time, they have undertaken rebuild after rebuild to no avail. They have struck out with just about every lottery pick except DeMarcus Cousins when it comes to a star player. Fortunately for Kings fans, the new ownership actually looks competent and are seemingly on the path to secure the downtown arena that the franchise so desperately needs.
With changes come heightened expectations, with a new philosophy comes excitement, but the question remains–what can be expected of this team in the upcoming season?
This past week, the Kings finally managed to extend the contract of Cousins on a maximum contract of four years for around $62 million. This offseason has seen many positive signs from Cousins like his million dollar donation to a Sacramento area charity, indicating he is finally mature enough to carry this team in a leadership role. The importance of this deal can not be ignored given the new direction this franchise is charting. The loss of the former Kentucky Wildcat next summer would have paralyzed the Kings for the foreseeable future. Locking him down gives the Kings a potential star at the most difficult position in basketball.
The 2013 NBA Draft has been deemed by many experts as a success for Sacramento. Grabbing shooting guard Ben McLemore with the 7th overall pick is considered a coup, but not having played a single game in the NBA yet the jury is still out on his prospects.
In free agency the Kings picked up some good players including Greivis Vasquez and Carl Landry. Overall, I would say that the roster is much deeper than the previous season. Paired with a young roster, the Kings have a plethora of guards indicating they plan on playing the full court fast paced offense. Head coach Mike Malone has had success in the NBA in turning around defenses, but he will have his work cut out for him with the lousy defensive basketball that the Kings have become used to playing.
All the changes put together, it is safe to say Sacramento is expected to be better than the 28-54 they managed last season. The question is how much better? In my opinion, given the strength of the Western Conference, Kings fans should expect another sub .500 season. The team is young at many positions and a successful season would entail answering the questions at every position and evaluating the young incoming talent. A successful season will also include a break out year for Cousins, where he establishes himself in the upper echelons of the NBA center population.
The new vision brought in with legendary businessman Vivek Ranadive will take time to marinate into the fibre of this organization. The new coaching staff will have to delve deep into their basketball knowledge to teach this group of players what it takes to be a winner. Winning will solve a lot of problems for this franchise, losing will deem this rebuild a failure.