A 12-22 record doesn’t garner many national headlines, as I’m sure many outside Sacramento could careless about the Kings. The Kings did make news this past week as they resolved their issues with the city and league resulting in the Kings STAYING in Sacramento. That is great news for Kings fans, what makes that news that much sweeter is the future of this extremely young team. The Kings are very talented, they’ve been in countless games this season that they shouldn’t have been if you were to look at the matchups on paper only. To appreciate this year’s Kings you have to turn on a game to see why this is different, this isn’t the perennial doormats they once were. These Kings, Keith’s Kings are much different. Coach Keith Smart has done an amazing job DEVELOPING the talent on this roster.
Earlier this year, when Paul Westphaul was the coach there was a HUGE issue with DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Long story short, the organization had to side with player or coach and the Kings made the RIGHT move. Coach Smart took over and Cousins has FLOURISHED, the knock on Cousins on draft day was BIG TIME talent with character issues. Namely Immaturity; he’s not done maturing, yet he has made huge strides since his rookie campaign. Boogie has really put up good numbers this season, his production hasn’t garnered any attention though. On the year per synergy sports; Cousins is scoring 16 points, grabbing 11.5 rebounds, he’s also accumulating 1 steal and 1 block per game. He isn’t shooting great from he floor( 43.7%), but that will improve with time. What is impressive is his ability to hit free throws, most big men struggle but Boogie is hitting them at a respectable 73%. Cousins has FIVE games this season where he’s grabbed 17 or more rebounds, he’s accumulated 22 double-doubles this season.
It’s hard to tell from Tyreke Evans stats, but Keith Smart has really helped him develop as a point guard. Since his rookie year, people have trouble accepting Reke as a point guard due to his size. It’s not often in certain lineups that your starting point guard can move to small forward and hold his own. At 6’6 22o pounds, Tyreke Evans has a physique that allows him to play multiple positions. Reke is one of the league’s best at taking his man off the dribble and getting to the rim, this year he’s done that to set up teammates as well as score. Smart has taken advantage of that as well as helping Reke GROW as a point guard. On the year; Reke is averaging 17 points a contest, grabbing 5 rebounds, dishing out 5 assists per game. Evans like Cousins, needs to improve his shooting percentage from the floor( 41.9%). As mentioned earlier with Cousins, this is something that will improve as he evolves at the position. Reke has EIGHT games this season with eight or more assists, that means he’s starting to get a feel for running a team. Reke like Russell Westbrook struggles sometimes because he often has an advantage over his defender; unlike Westbrook, Reke’s turnovers have gone down this season(2.9 a game). This has been a huge year in terms of Evans growth, this is the first year he’s really been TAUGHT the position. Look for him to improve upon this year’s numbers next year as he’ll be reacting more than thinking.
Last but not least, Mr. Irreleavant aka Isaiah Thomas. Thomas was selected LAST in last year’s NBA Draft. There really wasn’t a reason for it as he was extremely productive at the University of Washington. His minutes have been rather sporadic all season until late, in the month of February he’s started to get consistent playing time and has made the MOST of it. In the last Six games, Isaiah’s lowest shooting percentage from the field was 46.2%!! He’s only FIVE FOOT EIGHT (IF THAT), but he can really play in this league. Against the Miami Heat, he scored 24 points in 36 minutes while connecting on five of his eight attempts from deep. On the season he’s averaging 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists per contest. In the last FOUR games, he’s played 35 minutes or more. How’s that for the VERY LAST PICK IN THE NBA DRAFT?? Thomas is the reason you don’t hear Jimmer Fredette’s name too often, Thomas is eating most of those minutes that would go to Jimmer. In time Jimmer will probably figure it out, but it doesn’t hurt to have Isaiah Thomas coming off the bench!
At 12-22 the Kings won’t be a playoff team this year, what they will do is continue to get better and grow. It won’t be long before the Kings garner national headlines for their PLAY!