After a promising near upset of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2006 playoffs, the Kings stumbled last season ending with a 33-49 record. Hoping to breathe new life and bring new fortunes to the team, the organization hired former NBA player and college coach Reggie Theus
, who demands that his players bring passion and intensity to each possession so expect the Kings to play hard every game.
Adding to the optimism of the teamís new direction is the teamís breakout star in Kevin Martin. Martin torched the league last year averaging 20 points while shooting above 45 percent from the field. In Martin, the Kings have a new cornerstone and they showed their faith in him by rewarding him to a long term contract.
The team also added depth in their frontcourt by signing Mikki Moore and using their lottery pick to draft Spencer Hawes. Moore and Hawes add unique dimensions to the teamís frontcourt which gives Theus versatile tools to work with. Theus should also be encouraged by the fact that two of the main weapons, Mike Bibby and Brad Miller are healthy after battling nagging injuries from last season. Lastly, Ron Artest seems to be hungrier than ever.
While the team probably still isnít good enough to compete with the top powers in the West, if the team stays focused, this team canít be one of the teams battling for the eighth seed down the stretch.
If Bibby is fully recovered from last seasonís injuries, there is no reason why the Kingsí backcourt canít be one of the NBA's better offensive tandems. Both Bibby and Martin possess a consistent mid-range shot that their opponents have to be weary of. Not enough? Letís not forget that Bibby and Martin can both penetrate and get to the basket for easy opportunities for themselves or teammates. Bibby, until last season, was among the leagueís leaders in assists.
The Kings backcourt depth on the bench features a collection of talented yet inconsistent players. John Salmons, Francisco Garcia and Quincy Douby are all players known for their capability to score. However, on a team that doesnít have a perimeter defender outside of Artest, Theus will have his work cut out in motivating his bench players to show some passion on that end of the court. If they can, the Kings might feature one of the deepest benches in the league.
The Kings frontcourt features an arsenal of unique talents which features Artest, who was the leagueís Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. Playing for a new coach, Artest could be on the right track this season.
Also returning to the teamís frontcourt is steady handed Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Both players are similar in their playing styles, Thomas a better defender and Rahim a better scorer. The team also is happy to bring back a healthy Brad Miller, who was an All-Star, and can bring valuable intangibles such as mid range shooting and deft passing for a 7 footer.
As mentioned before, Mikki Moore and Spencer Hawes also add depth and versatility to the frontcourt.
-- Alex Labidou
Be a part of all the action at Arco Arena, the best home court advantage in the NBA!
When healthy and surrounded by motivated teammates, Mike Bibby is one of the best floor generals in the NBA. His shooting and penetrating abilities make him one of the hardest point guards in the league to guard and he lives for clutch opportunities.
Bibbyís challenge this season is to make a solid if not spectacular team play beyond itís potential. Last season, Bibby wasnít as focused on making his teammates better as he has been over his career (6.2 apg career avg) only averaging 4.7 assists. If the Kings have any hopes of sneaking into the playoffs, then it will have to rely on its best playmaker to make things happen.
-- Alex Labidou
||Ron Artest averaged 2.13 steals per game in 2006-07, finishing second to Golden State's Baron Davis (2.14) for the league lead. It was the third time in Artest's career that he finished second in the NBA in steals per game average.
Reggie Theus hopes to bring to the Kings what heís well known for: unbridled energy. While coaching New Mexico State, he unexpectedly brought back respectability to a team that hadnít sniffed NCAA Tournament competition since 1999. Now in the NBA, Theus will have to work to bring an identity to a once vaunted Kings franchise, if he can the team will be back as a dangerous one on the NBA radar.
-- Alex Labidou
KNOW YOUR KINGS
Kenny Thomas was a member of the U.S. gold medal winning team at the 1997 World University Games in Trapani, Italy.
They had to pay Kevin Martin that money because the two best players on that team are unstable: Ron Artest, you never know when heís going to fall off the deep end, and Mike Bibby, is unpredictable and inconsistent in his play. When youíre in a situation like that and Martin is the most consistent guy, he gets the money. Theyíre paying for the stability.
If Bibby and Artest step up and play like All-Stars, Sacramento could be a very good team.
Theus Iím sure is going to run-and-gun. Iíve been hearing that everybodyís playing time there is predicated on defense, but weíll see.
Hawes can score, but defensively I think heís going to be really challenged physically. I donít know if he can play 82 games and do it though.
Iím sure theyíre hoping that Garcia and Douby can provide them some depth on the bench this year.
Theyíre going to win some games but theyíll struggle to make the playoffs.
-- Western Conference Scout