The Kings Are Not As Bad As You Think
With Cousins gone, the younger Kings have finally found their footing on the court.
The All-Star Break is over, the trade deadline has passed. Now it’s time for the NBA world to turn their attention to the playoffs, and more importantly, who will actually make it.
Per usual, the Western Conference’s top-talent is stronger than the East. The top seven have separated themselves from the competition; six teams (Nuggets, Kings, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Timberwolves and Mavericks) all have a chance to snag the last spot. Denver is currently holding it down, but who has the best chance to crash Denver’s dreams from the other five?
Here’s one you probably haven’t heard in a week. The Sacramento Kings. The now-infamous Boogie Cousins trade ended any chance of the Kings making the playoffs…or so we thought.
In Sacramento’s first game without Cousins we witnessed something that hasn’t been seen in northern California in quite some time: fun.
The burden of keeping Cousins happy had affected the play of the other 14 players; they were too busy worrying about Boogie and not their own game. The thing is those 14 guys have talent. Picking in the lottery every year since 2007 will do that for you.
Willie Cauley-Stein finally unleashed the powers he possesses, scoring a career-high 29 points on 14–22 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. He took centers off the dribble with ease, showed off a nice mid-range jumper; the Kings announcers even claimed he was the best player on the court every time he hit the hardwood.
2016 first round draft pick and the second-ranked high schooler from the 2015 class Skal Labissiere saw his first real NBA minutes against the Nuggets and he played really well in that time. The next Steph Curry aka Buddy Hield came off the bench to contribute 16 points. BEN MCLEMORE PLAYED DEFENSE!
Look at all those names. They are all big time prospects whose growth has been stunted by playing with Boogie. Now do I blame Boogie? Never. That’s on the front office and 100 different coaching staffs for not making anyone else in the organization a priority.
Now that Cousins is gone the Kings have taken a hold of their franchise once more. They have solid veterans in Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple and Anthony Tolliver who can provide guidance on the court when things go haywire. They have Tyreke Evans who plays like an All Star when he’s in a Kings jersey.
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t truly think the Kings will make the playoffs. But it should be noted that they aren’t going to fall apart as we all expect. Hield seems to have adopted this role as the franchise savior. Cauley-Stein has said he plans on playing like that the rest of his career. But most importantly, these young kids finally have freedom on the court again.
Should the Kings have gotten a better return for DeMarcus Cousins? Most definitely. But getting rid of Cousins comes with its own extra benefits. The McLemores, the Cauley-Steins, the Labissieres, the Hields…the names we drooled over when they played in college finally have the chance to play their own game.
That, coupled with lowered expectations, will ultimately be a godsend for the Sacramento Kings.