How Sacramento Kings Can Beat ESPN's Conference Projections

By Karim Akbar
Kyle Terada – USA Today Sports

For the Sacramento Kings, there hasn’t been much to cheer about when it comes to overall success. The Kings had a championship-worthy run in the early 2000s, including its legendary battles with their divisional rival Los Angeles Lakers. But the team can only count divisional banners in its rafters.

Its only championship came in 1951 when the team was the Rochester Royals. That banner has never seen the light of day. Sacramento retired the no. 6 to thank its die-hard fans for their support even in the leanest of years. This year, they’ll actually have something to cheer about.

The Kings will play much better basketball than last year’s sad-sack Maloof-run product. Though the team retained most of its players from last year, it did not keep the staff. New ownership and their subsequent personnel moves have this team in an accelerated rebuild mode. That means relying heavily on DeMarcus Cousins and a core group of young players whose average age tops out at something that more resembles a McDonald’s All-American Game.

It’s a strategy that has paid off for teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and more recently the Golden State Warriors.

Re-signing Carl Landry was a great move in that it bolsters the power forward position and gives the team financial flexibility moving forward. The sign-and-trade for Grievis Vazquez was a solid acquisition because the Kings were able to get the quality point guard they needed for the soon-to-be-departing Tyreke Evans. Adding Luc Mbah A Moute via free agency brings a steady defensive presence to the Kings, while the draft-day picks of Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore will surely have the offense running at breakneck speed.

If the Kings want to beat analysts’ predictions of being a cellar-dweller in the Western Conference, a few things need to happen. New head coach Michael Malone must quickly gain respect with this new team to see any sort of success. Players must buy in completely if the team wants to improve on its 35 win season. On paper, the Kings’ moves aren’t spectacular by any means, and the signed no major free agents in the offseason; but, a closer look shows the team has quite a few pieces that can contribute to a winning product.

Karim Akbar is a Sacramento Kings writer for Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem , “Like” his RantSports page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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