2012-13 Results: 28-54, 4th in Pacific
ADDITIONS: HC Mike Malone, G Greivis Vasquez, F Luc Mbah a Moute, F Carl Landry, G Ben McLemore, G Ray McCallum
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Greivis Vasquez SG- Ben McLemore SF- John Salmons PF- Jason Thompson C- DeMarcus Cousins
KEY RESERVES: PG Isaiah Thomas, PG Ray McCallum, G Marcus Thornton, G Jimmer Fredette, F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, F Carl Landry, C Chuck Hayes, F Patrick Patterson
FRONTCOURT: The front office overhaul may not change the sometimes-erratic behavior of Cousins, but it may get the big man's attention. Cousins tends to let his emotions get the best of him and he was suspended four times last season, including three separate occasions by the NBA. He has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and ranked ninth in rebounding last season (9.9 rpg). Cousins led the Kings in scoring with 17.1 ppg and posted 35 double-doubles. The Kings have no choice but to build around Cousins, who posted 36 points and a career-high 22 rebounds in the last game of the season. They proved that by signing him to a multi-year extension in September.
John Salmons is penciled in at small forward and posted 8.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 2012-13. Salmons is a solid defender, but he won't be relied on to carry the scoring load.
Power forward Jason Thompson posted 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds a season ago and may get pushed by Carl Landry, who had similar numbers with 10.8 points and 6.0 boards last season.
BACKCOURT: Vazquez's presence should make Cousins that much better because now he's dealing with a pass-first guard. Vazquez, who possesses a quick first step, averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 assists for the Hornets last season and his acquisition is a step in the right direction. Vasquez is now in a Pacific division with top point guards Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.
One day rookie guard McLemore will earn that same distinction, but first has to prove himself during the summer league and preseason. He averaged 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, and 32.2 minutes per game in 37 appearances for the Kansas Jayhawks last season, and registered 11 games of 20 points or more, including three 30-point performances. The Kings could use that scoring touch now that Evans is gone and hope that McLemore and Vasquez can transform into a competitive tandem.
BENCH: The Kings' bench is a serviceable one with top reserves Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Chuck Hayes, Jimmer Fredette, Patrick Paterson and Mbah a Moute. Thompson or Landry could join the reserves by the start of the season and the former averaged 10.9 points in playing all 82 games last season. He was the only Kings player see action in every game in 2012-13.
Thomas posted 13.9 ppg and Thornton netted 12.7 ppg after leading the Kings with 18.7 ppg the year before. Thomas had an impressive sophomore campaign and was invited to compete in the NBA All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge, leaving many wondering if and when he'll crack the starting lineup. Thomas averaged 17.3 points, 5.4 assists and one steal per game in 28 games after the All-Star break.
McCallum brings athleticism and speed to the Kings and hopes to see plenty of time in his rookie campaign. He improved every year at Detroit and was the Horizon League Player of the Year with a conference-best 18.7 ppg.
Patterson was one of three power forwards to average more than 10 points a game at 10.4 ppg and joined the Kings mid-season. Landry said he has more experience, maturity and a higher basketball I.Q. and the leadership qualities to bring to the team. The bench could be more important to the Kings' success than the starting five.