Sacramento Kings: “The experiment”
Throughout their history, the Sacramento Kings have had some great and memorable moments. Their peak was the period of 1998-2004, during which their dynamic roster (composed from great players such as Vlade Divac, Peja Stojackovic, Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, and Chris Webber) made the playoffs six times. In four of those years, they reached the Conference semifinals and once, in 2002, they rose to the Conference finals before falling short.
Since then, the Kings have been in rebuilding mode, trying to get themselves back to the grand stage of the playoffs and compete for a championship. However, things aren’t going the way the organization wants the, to. Why do they keep on failing to join the elite of teams in the NBA and compete for a championship?
Multiple picks, but wrong concept
Since 2005, the Kings have had many chances in draft lottery to create a new roster which would lead them, in the long run, back to the playoffs. They had two draft picks per year on average, with many up high in the lottery, but they’ve failed to take advantage of that.
Most of their picks haven’t been as efficient and beneficial as it was believed they would be (Ben McLemore, Nick Stauskas, and Jason Thompson) while most of players that proved promising got traded or were released. Isaiah Thomas, Hassan Whiteside, Thomas Robinson, and Bismack Biyombo are some of these players, while DeMarcus Cousins is the only one with whom the Kings sealed the deal.
The poor drafting strategy that the Kings have used all these years during the offseason is the cause for their decade long playoff drought. The inability of selecting promising draft picks combined with the incapability to keep, to develop, and build on some of their own rookies is the obstacle standing in between them and the playoffs.
The first attempt
After all these bad operations and decisions, a hopeful move was about to be made back in March of 2015.
The Sacramento Kings had hired Vlade Divac.
The former Kings All-Star center was now the VP of basketball operations as well as the general manager for the Kings. The idea that he was going to bond with George Karl, a promising roster with good and young role players, a All-Star (D.Cousins), and two former stars (R.Rondo, R.Gay) made the dream of reaching the playoffs seem fairly realistic.
Despite high expectations for the 2015-2016 season, the lack of chemistry combined with the rough character of the players created an unstable environment, tracking the team out of the playoffs once more with a record of 33-49. The belief that something good could have been achieved was detached harshly from the minds of the fans.
Once again, the Kings organization and their supporters were left with their backs against the wall. The fans don’t have anything to believe in anymore. Or do they?
The truth is that they do have something to believe in.
They should still believe to Divac’s decisions, because lately, they’ve been good ones. The first solid move was the signing of Dave Joerger as new head coach.
The former Grizzlies leader is known as pragmatist and among the top of his priorities is to build chemistry between himself, the coaching staff, and the players. That makes him the ideal choice for the coaching position as he hopefully will bring along some stability to an unstable franchise.
Following the arrival of Dave Joerger in Sacramento, the new coaching staff lined up their priorities for the 2016 NBA draft. They selected Georgios Papagiannis (a young 7’1″ big man) 13th overall, a PF/C named Skal Labissiere 28th and a guard named Isaiah Cousins in at number 59. The fact that the Kings selected two big guys while they have three already on their roster reveals the simple plan: they want to play big.
In a period where a lot of teams are trying to create a roster capable of playing small ball, the Kings are going the opposite way, the “big ball” way. They want to build a team that will crash the boards and dominate the paint on both defense and offense.
However, to achieve such a goal, the existence of consistent guards will be a significant factor in their success, especially now that many teams are counting on three point shots to drive their offenses.
From my point of view, if the Kings are willing and able to add to a consistent guard to their cause, they will, and should, trade either Cousins or Kosta Koufos.
Dealing Cousins would be risky, but chemistry is very significant in fostering a better culture in Sacramento, and his rough character, combined with his consistent defiance, creates an unstable environment. If they don’t trade him this year, they will need to create cap room by trading Koufos (11 million).
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