2015-16 NBA Record: 33-49
Additions: Ty Lawson (Indiana Pacers), Arron Afflalo (New York Knicks), Jordan Farmar (Memphis Grizzlies), Garrett Temple (Washington Wizards), Matt Barnes (Memphis Grizzlies), Anthony Tolliver (Detroit Pistons), Georgios Papagiannis (draft), Skal Labissiere (draft), Malachi Richardson (draft)
Subtractions: Rajon Rondo (Chicago Bulls), Seth Curry (Dallas Mavericks), Quincy Acy (Dallas Mavericks)
Projected Starting Line-up (via rotoworld.com)
PG – Darren Collison
SG – Arron Afflalo
SF – Rudy Gay
PF – Willie Cauley-Stein
C – DeMarcus Cousins
The Kings are hoping a new change at head coach will help lead them into the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They’re also hoping this new coach will develop a strong relationship with franchise player DeMarcus Cousins, which didn’t occur during George Karl’s reign as coach. Former Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger has tasted the playoffs numerous times, but is looking to revitalize this franchise which has under-performed the past few seasons. This roster is talented offensively, but Joerger’s introduction should help this team on the other side of the ball.
Sacramento went out and got some veterans who will definitely help out stars Cousins, Rudy Gay and the newly-acquired Ty Lawson. Cousins is one of the best centers in the NBA and is also coming off winning a gold medal with Team USA in the Olympics. He’s an offensive juggernaut who can punish you in the paint and showed off some long-range shooting in his game last season. However, Cousins will have to mature as a leader and keep his emotions in check so the Kings can focus on making the playoffs, rather than the season being another soap opera with the star center. Ty Lawson is a solid buy, considering Darren Collison could be in trouble due to an offseason incident. Two seasons ago, Lawson averaged 9.6 assists for the Denver Nuggets but since then, he’s bounced around playoff teams in Houston and Indiana. Lawson and Collison’s playmaking ability will be much-needed with Rajon Rondo headed to Chicago. The top veterans Sacramento signed were Arron Afflalo and Matt Barnes. Their veteran presence should help a young locker room. Afflalo is hoping to reach the form of when he played in Orlando a few years back. Barnes’ aggressiveness will help form the tough defensive identity of Dave Joerger’s defense. Joerger’s attempt to make this side better on defense will be boosted by the presence of Willie Cauley-Stein, who has the potential to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the future. The Kings’ defense will be built around Cauley-Stein’s reach and versatility. Omri Casspi is an ideal stretch-four who shot 40.9% of his threes from behind the arc last season, while Ben McLemore will need to be a consistent impact player for the Kings to consider giving him an extension.
The Kings are in desperate need of an identity with the hiring and firing of coaches over the last few years. Dave Joerger is a solid hire, but he won’t change the franchise around overnight. Like many other teams, including their division rival the Phoenix Suns, the Kings’ front-office don’t seem to know which direction they’re heading in. They have 4 rookies on their squad, but with the additions of Matt Barnes and Arron Afflalo, could be aiming for a playoff spot, which may increase DeMarcus Cousins’ chances of staying in Sacramento. It’s an important year for the Kings if they want to retain their franchise player, otherwise moving him may be an option during the next offseason. I think because the Kings are still trying to fit the pieces together and search for an identity, while the Suns are getting key players back from injury, the Suns will edge the Kings in the Pacific Division.
Prediction: 4th in Pacific Division