It must be so frustrating to live in Northern California if you're a basketball fan. While the LA Lakers (until recently) have been soaking up the sun and success, Sacramento fans have been treated to constant despair.
The Kings are about to finish their 9th straight sub 42 win season. They haven't made the playoffs since 2006 and they don't look like they're headed there anytime soon. For the sake of the fans and the players something needs to be done, and soon.
What's the Problem?
Firstly, the Kings have a notorious reputation for poor management. Their front office has made several bad decisions over the past decade which is a big reason why the Kings are consistently poor.
Every franchise goes through bad patches, but they make the right decisions and they become competitive again. The Kings haven't done this. A combination of bad draft picks, poor trades decisions and ill-advised free-agent signings have left them watching the playoffs from afar for what feels like an age.
An example of this would be the drafting of Thomas Robinson out of Kansas. He averaged a double-double in his junior year in college, but at just 6'7" at the power forward position, Robinson is very undersized and it showed.
The Kings took him with the fifth pick but he lasted just 51 games before being traded to Houston, who moved him to Portland who in turn moved him to the 76ers. The Kings passed on point guard Damian Lillard who went on to win Rookie of the Year and center Andre Drummond who is a double-double machine.
The Kings also traded for Derrick Williams, the 2nd pick in the 2011 draft, who is the definition of tweener. He is too small to play power-forward and lacks the skills and shooting-touch to play small-forward. Last season they acquired Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors and although he is averaging nearly 21 points a game, he is too isolation happy and his defense is lacking. All these moves by the front office have done nothing to help the Kings in the present and will hurt them even more in the future.
Usually you'd expect the worse teams to have the younger rosters. Experience is key in the NBA and having it really helps you win games. But of the five regular starters for the Kings, only one of them is below 23. The roster is filled with veterans in and around their prime but yet they still struggle terribly. This is because the front-office keeps acquiring players that don't fit in well with each other.
Sacramento has been bad for so long that a very negative culture has been created there. NBA players are deterred from playing for the Kings because of their reputation. Good coaches don't want to coach there for the same reason. The Kings have had eight different head coaches in the past nine seasons and have had three different ones this season alone.
All this changing doesn't allow the coaches and players to settle in and get to know each other. Coaches are forever worrying about whether or not this their last game before they get fired which distracts them from doing their job. Players learn one coach's system, then they have to learn another one just as they start getting used to the old one.
As an example, the Kings started off well this season with a record of 9-5 through the first 14 games, but then fired then head coach Mike Malone after he clashed with the owner Vivek Ranadive about the style Sacramento was playing. Ranadive wanted a faster, flashy style but Malone was coaching one that actually suited and was working for the team. The organization swapped success for style, but neither has come.
Offensively, the Kings are about average in the league. With the likes of Cousins, Gay and Collison they never fail to put up points. But they suck on defense. This has been the story over the last few seasons as well. Not since 2011 have the Kings had a defensive rating in the top 20. The players don't try their hardest where it really matters. They all seem interested in being flashy on the offensive end, but not on the defensive end where games are won and lost.
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented players in the league. His combination of size, strength, touch and shooting skills make him a matchup nightmare. The trouble is he lacks maturity. He often whines at the refs when he doesn't get calls and this results in technicals. He's asked to be traded in the past, has been suspended on many occasions and even fought with teammates.
Cousins is the King's best player, but when your star has a bad attitude it has horrible consequences for the rest of your team. He needs to learn how to control his anger and use it constructively on the court or he and the Kings will never reach their potential.
What's the Solution?
This sounds drastic, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The Kings have to completely revamp their organization. This means a complete change from the top to the bottom. The only way that they will change for the better is if the management is torn down and built from scratch.
They need a front office that will get good draft picks, that will trade for good players, that will acquire good free agents. Only then will the wins start coming.
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