Halfway through training camp and one step closer to the preseason, the Sacramento Kings are beginning to familiarize themselves with a new coach, new teammates and a new arena.
With so many questions surrounding the Kings this season, expectations are mixed. But before actual Kings basketball games are played, I’ve made some bold predictions for the upcoming season:
5. Isaiah Cousins Starts 30+ Games
Let’s be honest, this prediction isn’t that bold. The Kings are a mess at the point guard position and there doesn’t seem to be much help coming. Darren Collison, last year’s backup and this year’s projected starter, may face a lengthy suspension following his domestic violence charges. Ty Lawson hasn’t started more than 30 games in a season since 2014-15 with the Denver Nuggets – and his ability is still a question unanswered.
Jordan Farmar is a career backup player, so other than those three, the true point guard left is rookie Isaiah Cousins. He’s expected to play garbage minutes, or even D-league ball with the Reno Bighorns, but the Kings are going to inevitably need his help.
4. Ben McLemore nearly makes the All-Star team
Now, this is bold. McLemore, who is entering his fourth season at just 23 years old, will be coached under George Karl, Ty Corbin and Mike Malone in his young NBA career. He started 55 games his rookie season, and 190 of 232 games throughout his career, yet his potential has yet to be reached.
McLemore is a scorer – and can become the type of scorer from the shooting guard position the Kings have been missing since they had Tyreke Evans. Can Dave Joerger finally tap into him and unleash his potential like he did with Courtney Lee and Mike Conley in Memphis?
3. The Kings will make the playoffs with the 7th seed
The Kings wont just make the postseason, but they wont have the worst seed. Look, the potential is there. DeMarcus Cousins is ready for another huge year, Willie Cauley-Stein looks to build off of his rookie campaign, while Rudy Gay, whose contract ends after the season, will be auditioning for his free agency pitch.
Plus, the newcomers – Aaron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes and the rookie group (Malachi Richardson, Isaiah Cousins, Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere) – are ready to fix one of the league’s worst defenses. Oh, and Joerger is implementing a new winning culture he used in Memphis. This could be a surprise year for the Kings.
2. Kings trade for cup holders at the trade deadline
This is going to be a tough transition for Sacramento fans, as cup holders will not be available at the Golden 1 Center. I’m anticipating sticky floors, beer-scented shoes and unhappy customers once the new arena honeymoon period ends after a few months.
Will they add them in? Probably not, but hey, I’m that bold.
1. Dave Joerger wins Coach of the Year
The Kings were an abysmal 33-49 last season. Joerger, who spend the last few seasons as the head coach of the Grizzlies, has averaged 49 wins per season as a head coach. If he can turn this Kings franchise around by implementing good defensive habits and an organised offense, he has a good shot of earning the coveted coaching award.