Sacramento Kings: 5 New Year’s Resolutions For 2014
Top 5 New Year's Resolutions For The Sacramento Kings
These 2013 Sacramento Kings are the definition of adaptability. With so many new faces and moving parts, you have to give the team credit for keeping things together. No longer are they the complete laughingstock of the league when it comes to evaluating front offices. But for all of its accolades, the team still finds itself looking like the same old Kings.
Sacramento was able to beat back a depleted Miami Heat team for a much-needed overtime victory at home in their last game, but are dead last in the Pacific division alongside the Utah Jazz, who have practically played themselves out of the season. For Sacramento, they still have a horse in the race -- a big one.
DeMarcus Cousins is becoming everything the Kings dreamed of as he's enjoying the best season of his young career. Cousins has responded every night with premier-level effort, even in defeat. "Big Cuz [Cousins] is an All-Star", LeBron James noted after the game against Sacramento Friday. That kind of endorsement is a huge coup for a franchise that needs many more.
While the Kings are who we thought they were, they've proven that this franchise means business. With a focus and effort to fix some of its shortcomings, this developing team could break .500 within weeks. But, that only happens if this team puts in the work and with that, here are five New Year's resolutions the Kings must make heading into 2014.
5. Exceed Fan Expectations
Owner Vivek Ranadive has improved the fan experience at Sleep Train Arena, where the Kings have several sellout games on the season. Even though the name on the building has changed, the atmosphere inside reminds many of the old Arco cowbell days as the arena holds a Guinness World Record for loudest indoor crowd.
The team also launched a very sleek mobile app just weeks ago. Trading for Rudy Gay doesn't hurt either. That move is one of the more notable ones this franchise has made in a while, and a result, fan morale is definitely up.
4. Improve The Guard Play
Isaiah Thomas was a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year until a trade cost him his starting gig. Since then, he's posting solid numbers. Thomas is averaging 19.2 PPG and six assists since taking over.
Rookie Ben McLemore looks like he's struggling to find his place on the team while fellow rookie Ray McCallum has earned zero playing time from head coach Michael Malone. Malone instead has relied on the equally inconsistent duo of Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton. Either those two step up or coach Malone has to find some time for McCallum.
3. Improve Team Assist Numbers
If there's one thing this team does well, it's dribble the ball to death. The best teams in the assists category like the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers share the ball on every play and therefore get more wins. Sacramento ranks 20th overall in assists and sit at 10-20.
Isaiah's numbers are ticking up, which is a revelation given his knack for scoring. But, this team as a whole needs to continue to make the extra pass on offense. That leads to higher percentage shots and more points, which leads to more wins.
2. Protect Home Court
The key to a playoff berth is winning on the road and maybe winning your division, but it most definitely includes winning at home. Sacramento has failed to really do any of those three things this season and as a result, they find themselves struggling to break even in the win-loss column.
The Kings are 6-11 at home and 3-9 on the road. Sacramento had a favorable home schedule to start the season, but things will intensify in the second half with more road games, and that could make matters worse if this team continues to take losses. This Sacramento team must protect home court.
1. Improve Team Defense
This team has a funny way of playing defense: they don't. It's entertaining for opposing teams and fans, and frustrating for head coach Michael Malone. Malone would really lose his lid knowing that opponents are scoring 103 points per game while shooting 47 percent and 39 percent from the arc.
That kind of defense, especially on the perimeter, will likely lead to more losses, but wins can be found where stops are made. If this team does that -- and post-game indications prove they are -- maybe this team can turn things around by relying on their defense instead of their offense.