Cousins and Gay arrive at training camp after winning gold with Team USA this summer…
Los Angeles Lakers season preview 2014/15: Laker town set for more disappointment this season.
The Sacramento Kings possess some intriguing pieces on their roster, but the question remains as to whether or not they can execute on the court and push for the playoffs.
The Kings ended the regular season with a 28-54 record, missing out on the playoffs by some distance in a highly competitive Western Conference. While they did have talented individuals on their roster, the level of competition around them ensured it wasn’t enough and it remains to be seen if they can build on it this time round.
Despite a respectable 17-24 home record, Sacramento won just 11 games on the road last season, and ultimately they will need to improve drastically if they are to challenge for the final few spots for the post-season.
Having gained a reputation as one of the more dysfunctional franchises in the NBA, the Kings fans will hope for stability and development at all levels of the organisation moving forward, but they will have to do so without last season’s star, Isaiah Thomas.
Can Cousins grow into a franchise player and inspire his teammates?
The last two seasons have been an improvement in Sacramento, but after years in the wilderness, the Kings franchise will need to see more from its influential players in order to make a significant impact in the league.
DeMarcus Cousins averaged 22.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 BPG last season, and there were signs that his temperament has improved and he can be a real leader of this team.
Those are undoubtedly some impressive numbers, and coach Michael Malone will hope they continue to steadily improve with maturity and growth as a player, with Cousins also playing a vital role in Team USA’s gold medal win at the FIBA World Cup 2014 in Spain this summer.
However, although fellow gold-medallist Rudy Gay will be there to support him, Isaiah Thomas will not after he joined the Phoenix Suns, and how the Kings replace his scoring and overall play will be key to the level of success that they can achieve.
Ben McLemore has had a year to adjust to the NBA and should improve this season, while much is expected of rookie Nik Stauskas. Ramon Sessions, Carl Landry, Alonzo Gee and Reggie Evans add depth and quality to an extent, but perhaps the most intriguing additions were the acquisitions of former Los Angeles Clippers star, Darren Collison, and Omri Casspi.
With 18 players on the roster, Malone will have a task in rotating and finding his best starting five. While depth is always a good thing in such a gruelling and long season, the Kings perhaps lack the real quality to make them a legitimate threat to their rivals.
The Kings are likely to endure more mediocrity this season, as they don’t have the quality for a sustained push at the playoffs. Gay and Cousins will be bright spots, as will a few of their other role players, but the gap is too big for it to be closed this season despite their triumph in the Summer League.
While another season close to the 30 win mark will be seen as relatively successful, it’s going to take time for their young guns and new faces time to get in sync with one another, and for that reason, coupled with the competitiveness of the West, Sacramento will be amongst the group at the wrong end of the conference.