December 28, 2009
I bashed this idea around too much. I managed a few long mea culpas, and some shorter versions that seemed to me making excuses in areas I had no excuses for. Nothing worked.
So, in honor of the Sacramento Kings officially winning 13 games, one more that I had them pegged for all season back in October, I will now attack my words from last fall, FJM-style.
Let the groveling commence.
Apologies for saving the Kings for the very last, but they are the very least, and I can't shake the feeling that they'll challenge records for all-time futility.
OK, "futility" is a relative term. And notice I didn't mention in what area, mind you, they would approach a certain "record." Perhaps the team is the all-time worst (or, at least, approaching it) at building a 10-man pyramid. Maybe the team's collective penmanship is awful. Perhaps the team harmonies are sickening. You ever hear these chaps run through "Silent Night?"
The team's in a tough situation. They're above the salary cap, and though they'll be a good chunk under it next summer once Kenny Thomas' (woof) expiring contract finally comes off the books, the team is going to have to watch what it does, as it's hemorrhaging money, it's looking for a new arena and could be paying over $40 million a year for the next few campaigns just to keep the current core together on their rookie contracts.
True. Kevin Martin(notes) is already on board, and deals for Spencer Hawes(notes) and Jason Thompson(notes) are impending. Years away, but "impending" does not imply an actual term of time! I mean, Spencer Hawes' 64th birthday is impending, as well.
The current core isn't bad.
See? Me likey. No hate-y.
No player in the 10-man rotation played in the NBA before 2004-05, and while it's tough to call any of these youngsters an outright stud, it's tough to call any of them an outright dud either. I already used "woof," which reminds of "dog," so I couldn't use "dog," so I had to use "dud" and create a rhyme as an unfortunate byproduct. I apologize, but as you can see, my hands were tied in the matter.
I go to great pains not to repeat myself, and I go out of the way (to the point of discomfort) to abstain from redundancy.
The team just felt "OK" to me, eventually. I didn't think that "OK" would get here - in the form of a team playing around .500 - this soon. Thought it a best case scenario, in that conference, for 2012. Not 2009-10.
Kevin Martin is the best thing going here. He's already on his second contract and coming off a massively disappointing year that saw him battle injuries and ennui. To these eyes, he loafed last season, barely going through the motions offensively and acting as one of the league's worst defenders.
The first part might be debatable. The rest is not. Martin didn't want to be there in 2008-09. Judging his off-court work thus far in 2009-10, he's now clearly enjoying himself. Good to see. The coaching and infusing of youth has turned him into the perfect mentor as he recovers from injury.
I've been a Martin backer since the preseason of his rookie year; I've always dug this guy, but he phoned it in last year. And for someone who has to work much harder than your typical 20-point scorer just to get good shots off, merely showing up just doesn't cut it.
Even if he does bounce back this year, there's not much around him. Tyreke Evans(notes) will excite, but he's a rookie and doesn't appear to be the sort that would hoist a team on his back and onto 35 wins.
To be fair, they haven't won 35 games yet.
He had a fantastic preseason and will be taking the place of the injured Francisco Garcia, but is that enough to compete against a proper playoff team?
I still don't think so, but as pointed out above, he is another rookie.
Jason Thompson? Fine all-around power forward. Spencer Hawes is the rare center who can walk and chew gum at the same time. This is a good little unit that has room to grow. But it's so, so young. The defense was awful last season, the offense was miserable and though internal development can be counted on, this is more or less the same team that was blown out of the water last year.
You took a team that could barely stay within 25 points of most other outfits last season, added a year of growth, "another rookie," and Tyreke Evans. I thought that would be enough to stay within 10 points of people. Didn't think they'd win 13 of 29 while barely losing to the Cavaliers and Lakers.
And Hornets. And Rockets. And Hawks.
The new additions might help more than they hurt. Desmond Mason(notes) hit on fewer than a quarter of his shot attempts in the preseason, giving me some awful karmic come-uppance for yelling at the Kings for drafting Hedo Turkoglu in 2000 instead of the defender they supposedly needed in Mason.
I really wanted the Kings to take Mason back in 2000. Felt he was the missing piece. To be fair, Hedo wasn't the missing piece, either.
Desmond Mason was a mistake that was rectified five games into the season. Should have known then that the Kings knew what was up. Based on what we heard over the summer, he was being talked up as the missing piece. Qualify those quotes, Paul Westphal! Qualify!
We're rooting for Sean May(notes) because he has the skills to be a stud down low, but he's battled weight issues and may need another full year to work himself back into being an NBA player. Meanwhile, Hakim Warrick just drove right past him, and that puts the Bucks up 73-39 with eight minutes to go in the third.
Coaching it all will be Paul Westphal, who is about as nice a man as they come, but has a history (to these eyes) of getting less out of his players than would usually be expected. That's the biggest kicker to me.
My biggest kicker then turns out to be the biggest kicker now. Westphal has been as good as I thought he'd be bad. The man has been brilliant in creating a quick offense that gets the job done, while inspiring his players to work hard and compete.
I've had issues with his play calling, minutes allotment, and rotation early on. I've noticed just about all I can notice, and even with that, I think he's got to be the coach of the year thus far. Paul Westphal has been spot on, and I was terribly, terribly wrong.
Maybe he turns it around.
There's a great chance I'm wrong,
and that he puts together some swingin' rotation that works much greater than the sum of its parts.
I'm truly hoping I am wrong because I like all the players and personnel involved, and the Sacramento fans deserve a fun night after what they had to sit through last season.
I can't shake the negative feeling, though.
Shakin' it pretty well, at this point.
I think that while we'll enjoy watching these Kings, their inability to compete on either end could have them posting almost legendarily low wins this season.
Oh. I guess I did point out what I thought they'd be bad at, specifically. Winning.
Prove me wrong, kids. I'm rooting for it.
Keep it up, kids. You've made a believer out of this moron.
Revised prediction? 14-68. Easy.