The Sacramento Kings are going into the upcoming season with low expectations amidst an offseason full of change. Kings fans have endured several seasons in the basement of the NBA, but there is renewed hope that finally the team is headed in the right direction.
Heading into Sunday’s game against Portland Trail Blazers, the Kings (3-1) have been playing particularly well.
This season, head coach Mike Malone has vigorously enforced the urgency of being disciplined on the defensive front. Looking at a roster that has seven guards, it is apparent that Malone plans on playing a fast paced full court offense paired with good solid defense.
Star center DeMarcus Cousins, having gotten a long term contact extension, has looked like dominant player that the Kings envisioned when they drafted him with the 5th overall pick in 2010. After only four games, Cousins has averaged 21.3 points per game in 26 minutes per game with nine boards per game as well. Even with the knowledge that it is only the preseason, it appears Cousins has finally turned the corner. If the numbers hold into the regular season, Cousins would finally be considered a star.
In his two games, fan favorite Jimmer Fredette has averaged 15 ppg on 60 percent shooting. Jimmer has been playing very good basketball on both ends of the court. Coach Malone has decided to give all his players a fair chance at becoming regulars–and Fredette, it seems, has rewarded his coach when on the court. Playing mostly at the two guard position, Malone has had some success giving the former BYU star increased playing time.
Malone has also been experimenting with different lineups, point guard Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez have seen the majority of time at the one position. While Vasquez serves primarily as a passer, and a good one at that, Thomas has been stellar in varying spots. Rookie first round pick Ben Mclemore has struggled with his shooting, but it is only a matter of time before his crisp jump shot helps him become more consistent.
With the loss of forward Carl Landry to a hip injury, it is imperative that Jason Thompson pick up some of the slack. The Kings are very thin at the four and five positions and can ill afford another injury. The play of Cousins has helped hide some of the weakness with the lack of talented “bigs.”
The Kings are in for a season of transition in which a new system will be implemented, a new head coach will get to know his players and decide on their fate going forward, and a new management team will try to secure the planned downtown arena. At the end of the season, Kings fans should get a better feel for the new regime. In my opinion, fans will be pleasantly surprised at how well this team ends up performing.