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Kings hope to shake soap opera rep, take step forward

Influx of big names, key pieces could surprise folks out West

POSTED: Oct 15, 2015 7:38 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper

NBA.com

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Rarely does a bad team -- in the lottery for years, likely to be picked by most to be there again -- generate so much attention. The problem is, the notoriety of the last few months has mostly been unwanted, a soap-opera kind of spotlight. The Kings need stability more than ever.

ICYMI

Free-agent addition Rajon Rondo is the latest new point guard, though at least this time, unlike other installments of the annual change over, no one is calling him the point guard of the future. It's about the present, maybe two years. ... Another veteran, Marco Belinelli, was signed for 3-point shooting, an area of concern for years. ... Nik Stauskas was traded to the 76ers in a salary dump a year after being drafted in the lottery.

THREE POINTS

1. Willie Cauley-Stein wasn't drafted as a possible replacement for DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings spent the No. 6 on WCS in part because he fits with Cousins, a big man who can defend inside and potentially be a difference maker without taking shots from Boogie and while helping to keep Cousins out of foul trouble.

2. Ben McLemore is going in a very good direction. He went from shooting 37.6 percent overall as a rookie to 43.7 last season and from 32 percent on 3-pointers to 35.8, all while continuing to develop on defense.

3. Cauley-Stein may not be the only new big-name power forward. Rudy Gay could play a lot there while starting at small forward, as usual, and Gay might even close games at power forward. George Karl likes the possibilities.

MAN ON THE SPOT

The Kings have gone though coaches, general managers and rosters with no change of course. They have a bad image around the league as a center of instability and bad chemistry. That makes owner Vivek Ranadive the man on the spot.

STARTING FIVE

Rajon Rondo | 8.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 7.9 apg
Needs to prove to the league he is still a factor.

Ben McLemore | 12.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg
In position to become valuable third scoring threat.

DeMarcus Cousins | 24.1 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 3.6 apg
No. 5 in the league in scoring, No. 3 in rebounding.

Rudy Gay | 21.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.7 apg
Two years in a row better than 20 points a game.

Willie Cauley-Stein | rookie
One of the best defenders in the 2015 Draft.

KEY RESERVES

Marco Belinelli | 9.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
Kings need a big contribution from behind the arc.

Darren Collison | 16.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.6 apg
Could start at point guard.

Kosta Koufos | 5.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.5 apg
Reunited with his Denver coach, George Karl.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Kings need a big jump -- 12 games -- just to get to .500, let alone all the way into the playoff race. It can happen if just about everything goes right.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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