(Every couple of days I’ll be reviewing one of the 15 teams in the Western C..."/> (Every couple of days I’ll be reviewing one of the 15 teams in the Western C..."/>

Western Roundup: The Sacramento Kinks, er, Kings


(Every couple of days I’ll be reviewing one of the 15 teams in the Western Conference, starting roughly from the bottom to the top as I see it from here right now.)

The Kings are a mess–after all these years. They can’t get out of the lottery and there’s no excuse for that. Every move a team makes, especially draft picks, needs to be a building block. The Kings’ drafts have rarely helped them.

Last June, with the 5th pick, they took PF Thomas Robinson from Kansas. Robinson will rebound and play defense but he’s a blue collar guy, not a scoring option, and the Kings need firepower, scoring. I could be wrong about him. Caveat lector.

In 2011, they drafted Bismack Biyombo, and then became part of a cockamamie four-team deal that left them with Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons while losing Biyambo and Beno Udrih. They went out of their way to get Fredette, who turned out to be a disappointment (as most observers predicted), and Salmons, who’s a one-dimensional gunner. And they gave up Udrih, who is a fine third guard. In such a deep draft, they should have had nothing to do with that trade and simply picked the best player available. Biyombo, if they wanted him;  Fredette, if that’s who they really wanted; or their choice of Kahwi Leonard, Kenneth Fareid, or a couple of shooting guards that are both better than Fredette—Klay Thompson or Alec Burks. Walking away from that draft with Fredette was a big step backward.

In 2010, picking 5th, they got lucky when DeMarcus Cousins fell in their lap. John Wall was the #1 pick, fine, but the Sixers, drafting second, picked Evan Turner (who replicates most of the Sixers’ other players). The Nets, drafting 3rd, picked Derrick Favors and the T-Wolves, drafting 4th, took Wes Johnson. Johnson has been a bust and while I like Turner and Favors, you know that those three teams are kicking themselves. Cousins is a 6’11”, 270-pound athlete. OK, the Sacto front office got lucky but we’ll give them credit for knowing it.

In 2009, picking 4th, they drafted Tyreke Evans, and they should have. But he was to be the point guard. Then they played him mostly as an off guard and now they’re thinking of him as a small forward. They drafted this great player but have no idea how to use him.

In 2008 the Kings drafted Jason Thompson with their 12th pick. Not bad, unless you would have rather drafted Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka or JaVale McGee.

The last time they drafted out of the lottery was in 2006. With the19th pick they took Quincy Douby. Hello!  Drafted after Douby (who spent three perfunctory seasons in the NBA) was Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap. Among others.

If you’re pretty bad and you keep making bad choices on draft day, you’re going to stay that way. Just sayin’.

There are some differences this year, and some cause for hope. Getting PG Aaron Brooks could make a big difference. Isaiah Thomas was a nice surprise last year, the last player (#60) picked, but Brooks could lessen the load for Thomas and mentor him as well. Four years ago Brooks played in 82 games and scored 19.6 points a game. Injuries reduced his playing time but he got healthy last year, playing for Phoenix and in China during the lockout.

The Kings’ two biggest scoring threats, Evans and Marcus Thornton, are both shooting guards. I would deal one of them, probably Thornton, for a small forward, instead of converting Evans.

It’s very nice that Chuck Hayes, at 6’6”, can guard big guys, even centers, as he does with the Kings but the team needs a big backup center, preferably one who has some kind of low-post game even if it’s not great because the Kings don’t have a post player. This would add versatility, add size and allow Hayes to play his natural position, power forward. I would also deal either Hayes or Jason Thompson for the best possible player.

The Kings have a lot of small forwards—Donte Green, Travis Outlaw, Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt and Salmons. And they’re thinking of making Tyreke Evans a small forward. One can only shake one’s head.

The Kings need to keep three or four core players, and back up the truck on the rest of the roster. It’s time for the GM, ex-genius Geoff Petrie, to do something clever.

This season, the Kings are gonna have to live with being the Worst in the West. After six straight years in the lottery! A modest goal for the Kings would be to finish ahead of the Hornets. That’s a big enough challenge for this team. Ya gotta start somewhere.