What is the greatest need? Is this need the SF spot? A starting PG? Is it a defensive stud like Anthony Davis from the draft? These are the tough questions as this quandry is the typical problem NBA teams face this time of year.
The biggest need…..
The biggest need that I see with this team is the ability of the Kings to either alter the defensive or offensive end. With so many scorers on this roster, it’s clear that the Kings are having an exceptionally difficult time defending teams. Being 29th in eFG%, this literally is the telltale sign of why the Kings are 28th in DRtg overall; the Kings simply can’t stop anybody for a consistent period of time.
On the offensive end, the Kings are now 18th in ORtg for the season and are nearly League Average despite the poor start to the season. Part of this is the faster pace and the total points scored are inflated (even with the per 100 possessions note that ORtg is), but mostly the Kings have figured out how to get in the open court. That’s the real reason this team has performed better offensively. (Even with the Kings being 26th in eFG% at the moment.)
So what kind of antidoe does the Kings need the most right now? I would argue a true game changer, preferably defensively, and the one guy that qualifies is Anthony Davis. Rohan from At the Hive’s profile on Davis is the most interesting thing I’ve read to this point. Needless to say, read it.
The problem? Davis is the clearcut #1 pick right now. In otherwords, this is the draft of Davis and everyone else. That’s how locked in Anthony Davis is to the 1st overall pick right now.
The better question? If the Kings were lucky to get the 1st overall pick, what would they do about the SF spot?
My suggestion is either A) throw Tyler Honeycutt in that spot and start some combination of Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas/Marcus Thornton/Jimmer Fredette.
There are many reasons to consider either Fredette or Thornton there, and that doesn’t even mention why starting Isaiah Thomas might be the best solution.
No matter what here, the question here becomes: Who would the Kings keep, trade, or simply remain patient with?
I doubt the Kings are trading Tyreke Evans, even with a potential Anthony Davis drafting, if only because you build high caliber teams around players like Cousins, Davis and Evans. Of the 3, I think Davis will end up being the best player, even if Evans has more talent, and Cousins is already looking like a potential All-Star as early as next season. (I do find this surprising. But I’m also not complaining.)
If you were to start Davis and Cousins, what spots are guaranteed to be filled among the 3 spots between the Guards/Wing spots? Tyreke Evans, in my opinion right now, would be one. (Hopefully.)
On the other hand, who do you fill at the other G spot besides Tyreke, and who do you put at the SF spot? It’s first important to remember that Tyreke, despite whatever is said by anyone, is not a real SF. Tyreke is a combo G, in reality, or a SG if you must be a strict posionalist. (I see Tyreke as a 1 1/2 where he isn’t a strict 1 or 2.)
I would suspect the answer to where this team ends up after Summer League in their evaluation of, in particular, Jimmer Fredette and Tyler Honeycutt. If Fredette has a long term future on the Kings, does that mean Marcus Thornton will remain a King? In my opinion, no. Both Thornton and Fredette cannot be in the long term future as long as Isaiah Thomas is part of the long term plans. The problem is that Thornton, who is an effective volume scorer, and Fredette, a high end shooter with excellent passing ability and instinct (which Thornton possesses’ in a different way), are both poor defenders. If you have an Anthony Davis, a Tyreke Evans, and possibly an Isaiah Thomas and/or Tyler Honeycutt in the starting lineup along with Cousins, this is not a difficult defensive lineup IF Tyreke can bring his real ability on that end. In fact, the Kings could become the dominant 2 way 2 end team that is needed to win championships.
In otherwords, hope for Anthony Davis.
What does this mean for Jason Thompson?
This I think is the interesting question. Do you bring JT off the bench (if you re-sign him in FA) as the 3rd big man? To me this is a no brainer: Absolutely. JT has progressed to the point where he could easily be the best big man in the entire NBA off the bench and is now a very capable starter. If you’re moving Chuck Hayes to the 4th big man spot, something that will help the Kings in the long run, that will help not only your depth but your long term ability.
John Salmons and Marcus Thornton could be a nice bench tandem (along with Thompson/Hayes) if you go that way. Not only is there defense there, but there is also scoring with Thornton.The SF spot is still an issue, but not nearly as much. There is still Francisco Garcia (who will still be here unless the Kings move his expiring contract as part of a bigger deal) who can play that spot, and Salmons can defend that spot (especially backups) too. The SF spot is easily fixable if the right pieces, especially at the top of the rotation, fall into place.
In otherwords, worrying about which pieces fit where is ultimately pointless if you don’t have real building blocks in the first place. With Davis, Cousins and Evans, those are 3 building blocks, real building blocks even with all of Evans struggles and Cousins’ issues, and that can’t be overlooked at this point.
What if the Kings don’t get Anthony Davis…?
That’s a story for another day, and I don’t have the interest or desire to write about that now. As good as Davis is, there are quality talents (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist!!!!) out there to pay attention to.
What about Free Agency?
Umm, for the SF spot or the PG spot? Because, honestly, I don’t like Free Agency for this Kings team. Nicolas Batum, other than Deron Williams and Gordon, might be the best FA on the 2012 market, and unlike Williams and like Gordon, Batum is a restricted FA. (This means Portland can match any offer made to Batum.) I’m also assuming that New Orleans is not letting Eric Gordon walk no matter what and I expect early in FA NOLA will come to a determination with Gordon. Call it, oh I don’t know, a hunch?
There is an interesting path ahead for this Kings team, and while nothing is certain, it’s probably best the Kings win the lottery this year if they want to have a shot at the championship. Given that the only time the Kings have moved up in the lottery was in 1989, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Kings won’t get the 1st overall pick.
Whatever does happen, this young team has some real promise and talent that is starting to show itself. That, if anything, is something to be thankful for.