Kings mid-season report

The Sacramento Kings stumbled to the halfway mark of the 2016-17 NBA season with a record of 16 wins and 25 losses. The Kings are eleventh in the Western Conference but they stand only one and a half games out of the eighth, and final, Playoffs spot. In game 41, Rudy Gay went out with what appeared to be a torn achilles tendon.

Is it possible for the Kings to be better NOW? Are they in touch with reality? Who are the five most efficient at each position? And, which players have defensive ratings better than the team defrtg? These are the questions we will answer in our Hoop Obsession mid-season report.

Temple is a pro's pro.

While DeMarcus Cousins continues to play great individual basketball, the Kings still do not win more they lose. Their .390 winning percentage is a true indication of where the Kings stand in the present landscape of the NBA. They are not out of the Playoffs race but the reality is that the eighth seed will most likely face the best team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors, in a first round Playoffs series.

Cousins, for the first season in his career, has more assists than turnovers. That part of his game has matured. He is also a much improved team defender in the half-court. Cousins is a reliable three-point threat, shooting 37% 3-pt. fg.

What did not change in the first half of the NBA season was all the extra baggage that Cousins brings. He still jaws too much with the referees. His arguing often leads to poor transition defense, and a resulting rim-run for the opponent.

For six and a half seasons Cousins' offensive usage rate has risen. He dominates the team in every aspect. It is difficult to think of any Sacramento Kings teammate of Cousins that improved while playing with him. Cousins continues to have little-to-no chemistry with the Kings other main scoring option, Rudy Gay.

The dramatics of Cousins were also in full effect through the first 41 games. Cousins anger issues popped up in adverse situations. He racked up technical fouls at a clip that will likely earn him a one game suspension late in the season. He was fined $25,000 and given a T for throwing his mouthpiece in an early season game. He kicked and punched a chair to get one of his (now 100+ career) technical fouls. One game night, Cousins wandered out of pre-game warmups to lambaste a blogger he saw standing courtside.

Off the court, Cousins berated a newspaper reporter. He was involved in a New York City nightclub incident with Matt Barnes that resulted in the wrong kind of headlines for Sacramento.

After Cousins and Gay, the rest of the Kings lineup is a patchwork of journeymen at best. Darren Collison is better suited to be a bench/role player but for Sacramento he is the starting point guard. The Kings foolishly spent $25 million to sign Arron Afflalo for two years. Afflalo, too, is a bench/role player.

Kosta Koufos plays hard and defends reasonably well but he is limited offensively. Anthony Tolliver has the efficiency of a forward that should be a deep bench guy. Ben McLemore never developed and is now a shell of the promising player he was as a Kansas Jayhawk. Willie Cauley-Stein has not developed at all. In fact, he has taken a step backward.

Ty Lawson struggled to start the season but he has played better in the last month. Still, Lawson, at this stage of his career, is a back-up caliber NBA point guard at best.

Omri Casspi barely plays for Dave Joerger. Casspi averaged just 18 minutes per game in 22 appearances for the Kings. Casspi's minutes are being held down by the less efficient Tolliver.

Tolliver and Garrett Temple both bring the Kings locker room some professional voices but in the big picture that has not resulted in more wins or less trouble for Cousins.

Temple is a top-tier NBA perimeter defender. The Kings play better when Temple gets heavy minutes rather than Afflalo or McLemore.

The Kings 2016 draft picks are barely seeing the light of day. Malachi Richardson played just 33 minutes in the entire first half of the season. Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis played less than Richardson.

Are the Kings in touch with their reality?

No. Sacramento's front office is trying to win NOW with a roster that loses 61% of their games.

If Sacramento does not finish in such a position that their 2017 NBA Draft first round pick is in the top ten, then the pick will be conveyed to the Chicago Bulls.

Sacramento will likely benefit from the services of Bogdan Bogdanovic next season. He is a 24 year-old, 6'6" shooting guard. Most experts agree he will be a solid NBA player at minimum, with a chance to be very good. Bogdanovic plays for Fenerbache Ulker. He is a knock-down shooter.

Gay's contract is up at the end of this season. He has likely played his last game for Sacramento. However, he now has zero trade value. A torn achilles takes a year to recover from. No NBA team is trading for Gay now that he cannot play the rest of this season.

Cousins' contract is up at the end of 2017-18. Reports say Cousins expects to sign a massive extension to stay in Sacramento.

You can still win in the NBA with a good center. The biggest names among pivots that are on winning teams? Pau Gasol, Al Horford, Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan, and Marc Gasol. Among those five, only Marc Gasol is the leading scorer on his team.

What is more likely to happen to teams in the NBA with talented centers? All of these stars and their teams have losing records as of today: Karl-Anthony Towns (Wolves), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Nikola Vucevic (Magic), Joel Embiid (Sixers), Hassan Whiteside (Heat), Brook Lopez (Nets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), and of course, Cousins.

Our thought is that it may no longer make financial sense to invest so much money in a scoring center. Teams are winning with centers who do not require a high volume of shot attempts.

The focal points on the best teams in the NBA today are all perimeter players. From point guards, to shooting guards, to small forwards, the teams with the best records in the NBA are all driven by non-BIGs.

Will Sacramento sign or trade DeMarcus Cousins? Certainly the franchise could, in one BIG trade, give their team hope for years to come. Cousins would likely fetch multiple first round draft picks and or young prospects.

While recent drafts have not been kind to the Kings, any NBA team would be silly to run from the draft due to past failures. Sacramento needs to dig deep on prospects.

Five most efficient by position

PG - Darren Collison .425, SG - Garrett Temple .369, SF - Rudy Gay .558, PF - Omri Casspi .418, C DeMarcus Cousins .820

Which players have defensive ratings better than the team defrtg? (players w/ 300 minutes played minimum)

The Kings TEAM defensive rating is 110.6 (24th of 30). The players with defensive ratings better than the team average: DeMarcus Cousins 105, Rudy Gay 108, and Kosta Koufos 108.


NBA related. Trade targets.