In the next two weeks, the Armchair crew will be taking on the NBA Regular Season preview. We will be taking on each team individually and looking into what to expect from each.
Past Record: 29 – 53
Key Additions: Rajon Rondo, Willie Trill, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Kofos, Quincy Acy, Caron Butler
Key Losses: Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, Ray McCallum, Prof. Andre Miller PhD
Welcome to the perennial contender in the “clown car of hilarity as a franchise” award every season (it’s not a real award, but it should be). Last year, the Kings were looking respectable before firing their head coach. The same head coach who had them buying in on defense and finally earned the respect of the team’s franchise who ranks somewhere towards the upper left in the Care Bear vs. Lucifer himself on the “easy to get along with” scale.
Now they have a bunch of guys who everyone else seemed to give up on, a head coach who is notorious for clashing with emotional star players, an emotional star player and a reigning connect four champion of the NBA. What can possibly go wrong.
Let’s start with the good. Rondo is still a very good passer. As bad as his inability to shoot is for spacing he is one of the best in finding the right man at the right time. He may never get back to his Boston championship form, but a one year contract should be enough to keep him engaged and gunning for another offer come off-season. Willie Trill is a perfect fit next to Cousins as a big who won’t need a lot of touches drawn up for him in the offence and will mask most of the Kings deficiencies on the defensive end. He will bring some much needed athleticism to the front line, pushing this team to improve continuously.
That being said, they will need Rudy Gay to be a decent shooter and McLemore to take another step up in that regard. Of course Belinelli will provide some spark, but starters are the ones who need to contribute to floor spacing, especially with Rondo being a liability in that regard. If Karl can run a system that spreads the floor, the shooters get hot, that frees up a lot of operating space for Cousins who is one of the better passers out of the post as well as possibly a top 3 offensive big men in this league.
Ultimately, this team will live and die with DeMarcus and his overall satisfaction level, so Vivek needs to buy into whatever it is his star man asks for and push for it moving forward. At this point of his career Cousins needs playoff appearances or he might bolt.
The worst case scenario is very polar to what we’ve described above. This team can very well fall apart under Karl, especially given the amount of volatile personalities that Vivek has assembled. If the shooters don’t get it clicking and Rondo focuses more on his table game etiquette than on ball skills, it could be a very long year for Cousins.
It will take above-average years from at least two more players on this roster to even put the Kings into the playoff conversation. If Rudy Gay can find his mid-season form and Rondo somehow rediscovers his interest in life, basketball and everything in between, this could be a team that surprises a lot of people.