Honestly, Demarcus Cousins is the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd reason I will be watching the Kings this season, and those same reasons for why this team did not end up in that unwatchable last tier of NBA losers. Cousins is one of the NBA’s most entertaining enigmas, with all the talent and upside to be the best center in the league mixed with all the craziness of a Metta World Peace (hmm, maybe not that much). No player in the NBA has had as many technical fouls as Cousins during his four year tenure and he leads the league in a very-exciting metric I like to call “Fight Potential“. This guy is one of the most entertaining players in the association; he should be amazing to watch regardless of whether he matures or stays a giant 270 lb baby.
What’s going on with the rest of the Kings? The team sent a good number of assets over to Toronto midway through the season for Rudy Gay, in a move that seemed somewhat forced by their new owner Vivek Ranadive. Gay is a versatile, if inefficient, scorer and his arrival helped the Kings sniff .500 basketball for a good stretch, and actually improved their offensive efficiency (take that analytics!). He and Cousins both played on USA’s second team during the FIBA World Cup this summer and hopefully have learned a little more about each other’s styles and strengths.
Other than that, this team is a series of unknowns. The Kings sent starting PG Greivis Vasquez to Toronto in that trade to allow miniature sparkplug Isaiah Thomas to take the reins. They then promptly let him go this offseason to make room for Darren Collison from the Clippers. The reason stated for this is that Collison would be more of a pass-first guard and play better defense, but most people tend to think this is a slight downgrade if anything. The team has drafted SGs in the past two drafts with Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas so it seems as if they are still trying to figure out that position. And lastly they will use a couple of NBA journeymen in Jason Thompson and Carl Landry to fill the 4 spot.
The departure of the hateable Maloof brothers as Kings owners was a huge boon for this franchise, especially when the NBA voted to have the team remain in Sacramento. Ranadive is a fun new owner who seems committed to the team, as well as to trying out new ideas like allowing fans to pay for merchandise with bitcoins and “crowdsourcing” the Kings’ first round draft selection. However, he is getting WAY ahead of himself if he thinks this team is ready for any kind of success this season. The Kings play in the West and in the fairly brutal Pacific division and this roster is far from complete. Let’s just hope Boogie takes a big step forward this year and this team is ready to reload and compete in 2015.
X-Factor= Nik Stauskas
Stuaskas may be Mr. Fashion but he’s going to need to bring more than tailored suits to Sacramento this summer. Stauskas was signed for one reason: MAKE 3s. If he can stretch the floor with his shooting touch and knock down open looks, this team’s offense should improve a lot. If not, the Kings will have squandered two consecutive top-10 picks on failed SGs and may need to start exploring options via trade.