Sacramento Kings Playing Different Brand Of Basketball Since All-Star Game

By Karim Akbar
Sacramento Kings, Denver
Chris Humpherys-USA TODAY Sports

These young Sacramento Kings are on a roll. A win at home, a win on the road. Winners of five of their last 10. Have the Kings finally turned the corner? Well maybe, but for now they’ll settle for a leapfrog in the Western Conference standings.

With the Los Angeles Lakers in full tank mode and the fate of the Utah Jazz season long decided, the Kings are still giving it their all. Sacramento has now won back-to-back games, including an impressive 109-95 win on Sunday over the Denver Nuggets. Sacramento is 20-36 on the season, 13th in the West, a major improvement over the dead last ranking last week.

The success starts with the willingness of coach Mike Malone‘s willingness to give Ben McLemore and fellow rookie Ray McCallum increased playing time. That bodes well for the two rookies who need all of the confidence and playing time they can get. It also speaks to how Malone has managed his roster thus far. It’s a marked upgrade in system and player management than the dysfunctional Keith Smart era that preceded it. It’s also a potential confidence=builder for the front office.

I’m sure management would love to see whether McLemore and McCallum are viable options moving forward. Personally, I feel McLemore hasn’t given Sacramento the hot shooting he showed in college, but he has managed to do more than any other Kings rookie this decade in just one year save for Tyreke Evans.

Sticking with the rookies is a good move in my opinion, while the trade for Reggie Evans gives the Kings an added degree of toughness in the paint. That seems to be infectious because the Kings definitely aren’t getting bullied anymore and the blowout losses seem to have tapered off. Isaiah Thomas continues to flourish in his best season yet and thankfully was not traded at the deadline.

Keeping Thomas is another great move as he has earned his role as leader of this offense. That’s not to say Thomas doesn’t make mistakes, but when will the front office back this guy 100 percent and mean it? Have they done that by holding on to him? That conversation will stretch into the offseason because I doubt the front office knows what to do for sure.

Either way, this team has overcome a lot and grown in many ways while the Kings’ core of Rudy Gay, Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins give the franchise’s fans hope that better days lie ahead. The standings only tell half the story, but the results are growing with each game. This team is finally getting it, and the wins that are now piling up proves that this team is making all the right moves.

Karim Akbar is a Sacramento Kings columnist for Rant Sports For More Sacramento Kings News “Like” his page on Facebook Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem  Or add him to your network on Google+.

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