The Sacramento Kings had a clear priority this offseason and that was to acquire as much talent as possible for a playoff run. Uneasy management and rocky coaching last season led to the franchise’s ninth consecutive year without playoff action. Time and patience is running out to build a contender in the mind of DeMarcus Cousins and his reported internal feud with head coach George Karl did not help to cause at all. However, Vlade Divac should be ecstatic that his 25-year old face of the franchise will be suiting up for opening night of the 2015-2016 NBA season when the Sacramento Kings play host to the Los Angeles Clippers on October 28th.
It will be interesting to see how George Karl and his offensive system which highly values 3-pointers, attacking the rim and free throws pans out in his first full year as head coach. DeMarcus Cousins has shown that he’s a dominant force in the NBA and Rudy Gay really stepped it up in the 20 games last season with Karl at the helm, averaging 23.9 points on 47.9% FGP, 39.2% 3PT and 84.1% from the charity stripe. Gay’s size, athleticism and ability to play either the 3 or 4 position gives the Kings versatility like never before. This offensive system will be put to the test right away, with 6 of the Kings first 8 games coming against Western Conference playoff teams.
One key match-up to watch will come against the new-look San Antonio Spurs on November 9th. Off-season acquisitions Willie-Cauley Stein, Caron Butler and former Spur Marco Belleneli are seemingly perfect fits for Karl’s system on paper, but how will it translate to arguably the team to beat in the West remains to be seen. Whether Cousins is matched up against Tim Duncan of newbie LaMarcus Aldridge, it will surely be an entertaining clash of bigs. San Antonio’s top 10 defense and offense last season was no fluke and they seem to have upgraded their roster this summer. The Kings are going to need every ounce of team play to win this game as Cousins is going to have a tough time scoring consistently against the Spurs’ bigs.
Another storyline to follow throughout October/November will be the newly formed point guard duo of Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison. George Karl has unclearly addressed the starter issue by stating that it could be changing on a nightly basis. Rondo’s penchant for rebounding and running the fast break as an exceptional passer is seemingly the better fit on paper, but problems with attitude and inconsistency have raised eyebrows. No one team knows this more than Dallas Maverick fans, after watching Rondo being permanently benched in their first-round playoff exit last year. Rajon will be eager to suit up on November 30th when Rick Carlisle and the Mavs take a visit to the Sleep Train Arena. At this point in the season there should be some consistency with the Kings’ point guard situation and tension should be present between Rondo and his former coach.
The new-look Sacramento Kings finally seem to have some real talent outside of DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay to go along with a system that compliments their up-tempo style of play. With 19 games through the first month of NBA action, a strong start is imperative if they want to bring playoff play back to Sacramento.
Courtesy of Hardwoodparoxysm.com