Oct 10, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) protects the ball from defending Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake (5) during an NBA preseason game at MGM Grand Arena. The Kings won the game 104-86. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers Sizing up the West: #14 Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings had by the far the most changes in their organization this NBA offseason, in a summer of changes. There are 13 new head coaches in the NBA this season, including 9 of which have never been a head coach at the NBA level before. Those are huge numbers. Huge like the Kings new minority owner Shaquille O’Neill, who joined Vivek Ranadive’s new ownership group to keep the team in Sacramento with the help of Mayor Kevin Johnson. The ownership group hired a new coach and General Manager Pete D’Alessandro to give the team a fresh start.

The Kings new head coach is Michael Mallone, who was most recently an assistant with the Golden State Warriors. He was part of that Bay Area franchise’s quick turn around. Why can’t he do that with Sacramento?

Answer: He could, it just won’t be quick.

The Kings gave center Demarcus Cousins a 4 year extension this offseason. Pick whichever negative adjective you’d like to describe Cousins (volatile, inconsistent, immature etc.), but the Kings paid him because he can play. The options for top tier players are low, and if the Kings tried to move him at this time, there is no way they could get equal value for the big center out of Kentucky who is still a big question mark. Today he is one of the 3 best centers in the league.

How the Kings do will depend largely on him filling up the stat sheet. But 2 things bode well for the Kings 1.) he appears to have slimmed down and come into the season in shape, 2.) they put a much more complete team around him than in past years.

Much like when the Warriors got rid of one of the best scorers in the NBA, Monta Ellis, they improved dramatically, the Kings will be that much better without Tyreke Evans. The previous coaches and owners screwed up Evans from the start vacillating between point guard and small forward.

Barring injuries, the Kings starters are likely to be,

Demarcus Cousins (Center), Jason Thompson (Power Forward), John Salmons (Small Forward), Ben Mclemore (Shooting Guard), Greivous Vasquez (Point Guard).

Vasquez was one of the most improved players in the league last year, Jason Thompson is both an effective rebounder and scorer, and rookie Ben Mclemore could end up being the best player in the 2013 Draft Class.

Off the bench Isaiah Thomas proved to be an excellent facilitator as well as scorer. He will compete for minutes with Vasquez. And recently acquired Carl Landry along with bwill be two of the best bench scorers in the West.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a newly acquired, proven veteran with the Bucks, and the Kings will still give the Lakers fits even if Jimmer Fredette never pans out.

The Kings are still going to be one of the worst teams in the West though, but it’s a deep Western Conference.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers

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