This has been a tumultuous season for the Sacramento Kings. Having the worst record in their division, inconsistent play, and struggles for a new arena have overshadowed what may be a future Oklahoma City Thunder-type team in the making. If the Kings were in school, here’s what grades they would receive.
Offense – C – While their offense was absolutely dismal and unfocused at the beginning of the season, fortunately a new coach and new starting point guard would help the assists increase and the selfish play decrease. Keith Smart trusted rookie Isaiah Thomas to run his offense, and it worked beautifully. However, they still have work to do. They shoot too many three-pointers a game for only making 31 percent. They are 26th in the league in assists, and they have trouble finding offense in crunch time. Hopefully a full off-season and training camp will improve these problems.
Defense – D+ – The Kings are last in points allowed this season. They allow an average of 104 points a game while only averaging 98. Their defense has been spotty at best. There are too many times when they’ve been caught sleeping and there’s been a wide open shot, usually from three point line. There have been some improvements, however. Tyreke Evans has shown he can shut down players if he puts in the effort. John Salmons is an excellent perimeter defender, and Thomas has successfully defended the best point guards in the NBA. Again, the off-season should help these problems.
Coaching – B – Paul Westphal was never going to successfully coach the Kings anywhere. He is not one to develop players. What I’ve seen from Coach Smart, however, is teaching and developing every chance he gets. He knew there was limited practices, so he taught during games. He sees the incredible talent in DeMarcus Cousins and the potential in Jason Thompson, so he hires big-man guru Clifford Ray to help develop them, and sees immediate improvement. Smart is meant to take the Kings to the next level.
Future – A – This off-season will be important for this Kings team. Developing plays and working on different players to hone their skills will only help this team. Isaiah Thomas has the potential to be an all-star point guard. Marcus Thornton is a scary scorer who is learning to defend better. Tyreke Evans could be a top 5 player in the league if he had a reliable mid-range jump-shot. Jason Thompson could easily average a double-double next season. DeMarcus Cousins is already the second-best center in the league, behind Dwight Howard. And Jimmer Fredette could become the Steve Kerr of the Kings. Add in role players such as Salmons, Terrence Williams, and Francisco Garcia, and there’s a good core to work with. Add a couple veterans, and the Kings will make the playoffs next year.