#12 – The Sacramento Kings

Oh wait, were we just talking about fractious team drama and larger than life personalities? Because then let me introduce everyone to the Sacramento Kings and everyone’s favorite 270 pound franchise man-child Booooogieeeee!!!!!

If we were grading these teams on actual quality of basketball and style of play, the Warriors would have leapfrogged to about the #2 or #3 spot and Sacramento would have plummeted down to somewhere in the early 20s (Great tumblr there). However, because of the league pass watchability factor this team is a goldmine that juuust misses out on the top-10 must see every night even if its a West Coast game ending at 1Am tier.

There are just too many big egos in this locker room. Let’s go back to Demarcus Cousins for a second who was neck and neck last year with Marc Gasol for being the league’s most dominant center. Jesus Christ, just look at his stat line from last year I didn’t even know it was that friggin’ good. Cousins is an absolute nightmare in the post who’s shooting touch has also now given the Sac-Town coaching staff the idea that he can stretch it all the way out to the 3 point line while still being mobile enough to absolutely torch other bigs. Too bad he’s been mired in a Sacramento black hole that has seen four different lead point guards and five (!!!) different head coaches in his brief five years in the league. I almost don’t blame him for having a hard time trusting anyone within this organization or for running his mouth off when he hears about how other inferior players (sorry TT) have fared when they hit free agency. Well, almost.

Then there’s Karl, who was brought in to replace the one coach Cousins actually got along with and ALLEGEDLY spent the entire season dreaming of ways to trade this franchise star and top-10 player for a way to reunite with his diminutive favorite Ty Lawson and build out a Denver lite of fast-paced coast to coast playing. Karl is arguably one of the sharpest coaching minds in basketball with a lifetime record of over 1,100 wins to prove it but he’s also ALLEGEDLY something of a control freak who has put off many of his players with a sort of perceived deviousness. The Sacramento organization has already made some noise about refusing to lose any more face by firing yet another coach midseason, so with Boogie going nowhere and Karl going nowhere, these two are going to have to learn to get along or this is going to hit trainwreck proportions.

And speaking of trainwreck and my absolute favorite signing of the summer. THIS TEAM BROUGHT IN RAJON RONDO!!! Who’s that you may ask? The champion Boston Celtic Rajon Rondo who bloomed into a player capable enough to elevate the big 3 to Boston’s first title in 23 yearsThe Connect 4 Master Rajon Rondo who sees the entire court like a, well connect 4 board, and frequently led the league in assists per game and mind breaking how did he do that passes. The Rajon Rondo who somehow shot a worse percentage from the free throw line than he did from the field, and seemed absolutely unwilling to finish even a wide open layup. The Rajon Rondo who flamed out so spectacularly in the playoffs last year that he actually ended up sabotaging his team and receiving two DNPs before getting kicked out of Dallas and finding a home, and likely final destination, in the NBA’s ultimate scrod basket.

This just has the potential to get so good. Because even as much of a festering mess this turned out to be last year, this team had been something like 10-5 through the first stretch of the season with Demarcus Cousin looking like a top 5 player and Darren Collison providing some nice hustle and defense on the perimeter. While they weren’t amazing, it looks like they had some good chemistry for the first time ever with the team finally embracing Boogie as their cornerstone and everyone buying into coach Mike Malone’s hard work on defense ethos. Definitely a playoff team, even in the West. Aaaaand, then Cousins came down with a brutal case of viral meningitis, missed some time, and the wheels absolutely fell off (with a 15 game losing streak at one point) and Malone was fired.

So, while there is the more than likely possibility of nuclear implosion over in the Sleep Train Arena, it’s also possible that this team could make a spirited run at the 8th seed if everything breaks 100% right. Rondo is an offense killer, but if Boogie really can stretch his range to the 3 point arc, there could be a fairly open floor to work with. The Kings did bring in one of the NBA’s premier marksmen in Marco Bellinelli and can reasonably expect another step forward from 3rd year player Ben McLemore. People outside of Sacramento and weirdos like myself don’t really watch the Kings so its hard to understate just how good Cousins is. With the right pieces around him this is the league’s best center, arguably a top 5 player, and maybe someone strong enough to drag a depressing team into the playoffs all by himself.

And if that happens? A revenge tour for Karl and Rondo and animated owner Vivek Ranadive jumping up and down courtside while a crowd draped in purple goes crazy? Well that might just be the best story in sports this year.

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