Coach: Paul Westphal
2008-09 Record: 17-65
Pythagorean Record for 08-09 19-63
Offensive Rating: 105.5 (25th in the league)
Defensive Rating: 114.7 (30th)
Possessions per 48: 94.2 (7th)
|Offensive||49.1 (22nd)||.143 (25th)||.245 (26th)||.252 (5th)|
|Defensive||52.6 (29th)||.130 (16th)||.699 (29th)||.269 (27th)|
Roster (Red indicates new acquisition, Blue indicates rookie) Click to enlarge
Kevin Martin might have the most unique statistical profile of any player in the league, and it’s one of the big reasons why he’s so underrated. A cursory look over his statistics might lead you to think he’s just another shooting specialist, but you’d be wrong. The thing that sets Martin apart is that a huge percentage (34%) of his shots are three-pointers, but he also draws a ton of fouls. He drew a foul on 21% of his field goal attempts, the sixth highest rate in the league. To put in perspective how absurd that is, the next best foul rate by a guy who shot 30+% of his shots from behind the arc is 14%, by Danny Granger. For guys who drew fouls at a rate of 20+%, only Martin and Devin Harris (21%) shot over 20% of their shots from behind the arc. That ability to draw fouls is what separates Martin from other elite shooters, and it’s what makes him one of the league’s most efficient scorers. He’s one-dimensional, and doesn’t do much other than score, but he scores so much and so efficiently that it doesn’t really matter. He’s a poor defender, but that’s more evident on a bad team like the Kings where there’s no help defense once he gets beat. If I were the GM of a contender in need of a guard, I’d try to pry Martin away from the Kings. He does so much of his damage with cuts off the ball, so he’d make a fantastic complementary player, and you can always hide a bad defensive guard on a good defensive team.
Outside of Martin, the rest of this backcourt is awful. Beno Udrih was probably the league’s worst starting point guard (Bassy Telfair and Mike James were worse, but neither started more than 50 games). He’ll make $27.8 mil over the next four years. With Sergio Rodriguez and Tyreke Evans coming in, it’s unlikely that Udrih is ever going to sniff that starting job again, he’s probably a 10-15 mpg backup.
I’m not sold on Sergio Rodriguez at all. He cost the Kings practically nothing, so it was a worthwhile gamble on their part, but I don’t know if he can ever reign in his wildness enough to be a solid player. He’s a dynamic transition point guard who sees the floor extremely well and loves to make the flashy pass. In that way, he’s a lot like former Sacramento guard Jason Williams in his early playing days (there’s a reason they call him “Spanish Chocolate”), and that flashy play comes at the expense of too many turnovers. He’s also a poor shooter and a poor defender, despite having good size for the position. If he can develop like Williams did, cut his turnovers a bit and improve his jumper, then Rodriguez can be a solid point guard. I don’t think that’s terribly likely, but as long as the Kings don’t re-sign him for absurd amounts of money, then it was a cheap risk to take.
Tyreke Evans is ostensibly a point guard, and they’ll play him there for a while, but it’s extremely doubtful that he’ll stay there. A 6′6 guy with a poor jumpshot and below-average passing skills? Sorry, not seeing it. If you read any of my draft coverage, you know I’m not very high on Evans. He’s big and strong, but he’s not a terrific athlete and, again, isn’t a good shooter or distributor. He has the potential to be a solid player down the line, but there are a lot of things he’s going to have to improve on, and I’m not sure his ceiling is even that high.
Spencer Hawes has been a bit of a disappointment in his first two years. Yes, he was young when he entered the league, but he also came in as a pretty polished big man, that was his big draw. He’s shown some of that, with flashes of being a quality, floor-spacing center, but he still has far too many weaknesses in his game. Mainly, he turns the ball over too much for a post who shoots so many jumpers. Still, it’s surprising he isn’t more effective, given his size and skill level. I give him some slack since he hasn’t exactly played in a great environment for a developing big man, but that only goes so far.
X-Factor: Jason Thompson – The one exciting aspect of this team, other than Martin, is the frontcourt duo of Hawes and Thompson. Though Hawes has the more polish and offensive skill, Thompson is the more important piece. At 6′11, he has the size for either post position, he moves really well for his size, and he shows a relentless energy and aggression on the court. That made him a very good rebounder (especially on the offensive end) ranking 17th in the league in rebound rate, and an effective defender (Sacramento’s defense was 4.4 points better with him on the floor). He also drew a lot of fouls, and converted his free throws at a decent rate (69.2%). On the flip side, that aggressiveness also made him turnover prone and foul prone (no one who played at least 1700 minutes fouled more on a per minute basis than Thompson). Luckily, those are two things that often trouble rookie big men, and they usually improve quickly. Thompson was the best rebounder and post defender on the team even as a rookie last season, and a pretty competent offensive player in his own right. It’s crucial for the Kings that he continues to develop in that role, as they desperately need his athleticism and energy on the frontline.
If this roster included Ricky Rubio instead of Tyreke Evans, I would really love the core they had in place. A dynamic shooter who lives off of curls and back-door cuts, a skilled center with shooting range, and an energetic, run-the-floor forward all with an elite point guard prospect whose passing elicits comparisons to Nash, Kidd and Maravich. That’s a foundation right there. Instead, they have Evans, a score-first (and score-second, and maybe pass-third, though he wouldn’t mind scoring then either) guard who will almost certainly not stay at the point guard spot. I really can’t overstate how stupid that pick was. The draft had two elite prospects and one of them fell to you with the third pick, IT’S NOT THAT HARD. [/rant] Anyway, the Kings will again be awful this year, and I can see them trying to move Kevin Martin during the season because his contract is fairly pricey over the next 4 years, everyone wants to cut salary, and he’s pretty much their only tradable asset anyway. There is some young talent here, but lets be realistic. The Kings are going to be bad this year, and they’re going to be bad for the foreseeable future.