Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Predicting the future is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. And that’s doing so with all types of information at hand. So you look at the 2013-14 Sacramento Kings and recognize the team is undergoing a mini-makeover on the fly. Owner Vivek Ranadive, advisor Chris Mullin and general manager Pete D’Alessandro are attempting to remake the squad with quickness. Mullin and D’Alessandro couldn’t bring in Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy, Aaron Gray and Derrick Williams without Ranadive’s resources and desire. Just Monday night we saw the best Williams has to offer. He scored a career-high 31 points on 12 of 16 field-goal shooting (three of five from three-point range). Moreover, Williams had a career-high five steals in a 35-minute performance during a victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas, by the way, had won 15 of its previous 16 games against Sacramento. Now it would be foolish for us to expect Williams to consistently perform at such a high level. However, the concept of combining the athleticism with that of Gay’s exceptional ability to run and jump looms as the mark of an entirely new type of Kings. Yes, as Ranadive says, a new-era Kings. We’re talking about a first-year coach in Michael Malone with a relatively remade squad, including a key piece in Gay, who we’ve yet to see and it’s clear none of us, not even those running the joint, know what we’re about to see. The easiest change to make was the insertion of Isaiah Thomas into the starting lineup. The five-foot-nine point guard clearly has the talent, will and skill to be a player of impact. Before the recent acquisitions, the Kings were in the position of needing Thomas to perform at an extremely high level merely for a chance at victory. Thomas, as well as DeMarcus Cousins, appear in position to not feel they have to carry the weight of the world every game. The previously offense-challenged squad now has the potential to present threats at every starting position. It’ll be interesting to see how well Gay ad Williams perform together. The new NBA doesn’t command the need for a prototypical power forward. Neither of them fit that mold, but both can qualify as “stretch fours (power forwards). Look around the NBA. Virtually everything is wacky. The Kings (6-13) should not believe they are incapable of defeating any team. Yet, team-wide consistency, particularly at the defensive end, is what the Kings must establish. One Western Conference coach said he believes Cousins in the league’s best center. And that’s in a league where few centers perform as centers as we once knew them. The Kings will have to establish themselves the hard way. They are 4-8 at home. Following tonight’s home game against Utah, the Kings play seven of their next 10 games on the road. They’ll play those 10 games before the New Year. The Kings front-office likely has not made its final personnel move, but the immediate future should be interesting. It’s nice to see the Kings making moves that aren’t designed just to save a few bucks.

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