If someone told you before the season that the Sacramento Kings were going to shock people with an outstanding record this season, what would you have said? Probably something like, "You're nuts."
As I predicted before the season (I like to toot my own horn when I can... it doesn't happen every day), the Sacramento Kings are a playoff-caliber team. My prediction was either so smart or so ludicrous that it ended up on NBA.com. Though they are only five games into this young NBA season, the Kings are playing like a contender. They're playing like the royalty that their name entails.
At 4-1, Sacramento has one of the best records in the entire NBA, and are coming off a game in which they hung 131 points on the Denver Nuggets in the second game of a home-and-home.
Since most of you don't know me personally, you don't know that my second passion, to sports, is actually medieval history. Okay, I totally made that up. But, in this fun little exercise, we are going to go back in time, to the age of royal courts. Each player on this talented Kings team represents a different member of the court, which I will explain below. Ready? Here we go.
Emperor: DeMarcus Cousins (C)
The king of all kings. So far this year, Cousins has established himself as perhaps the best all-around center in the NBA, averaging 24.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. His low post ability on offense forces double teams or forces defenses to collapse, allowing him to either finish in traffic or kick it out to one of his teammates. Defensively, he is a menace, and constantly and consistently alters shots. As emperors decided the path of their kingdoms, Cousins' play will either carry this team to new heights or force them to stumble back to mediocrity.
Knight: Rudy Gay (SF)
Rudy Gay has been very noble in his own right this season. Leading the team with 24.4 points per game, he has also brought down 6.2 rebounds and recorded 2.4 assists. He is shooting lights-out from downtown (58.3 percent) and from the field in general (52.1 percent). While the part of trades in recent years due to his gigantic salary, Gay has been one of the most consistent scorers in the league, and joins Cousins as one of the two most important members of the royal court.
Musician: Darren Collison (PG)
A solid musician can get people up and dancing and keeps a solid rhythm. Collison has provided a metronomic beat to Sacramento's offense this season and is the unquestioned primary ball-handler. He has picked a song to play for everybody, spreading the ball around the court, as evidenced by his 6.8 assists per game, which leads the team by 4.4 assists per. When he has to perform a solo, he has been able to hold his own, as he also averages 15.0 points per game as well.
Squires: Carl Landry (PF), Omri Casspi (SF)
Squires were a rank below knights in medieval courts. That's exactly what bench players Landry and Casspi have been so far this season, logging very important, productive minutes off the bench for this squad. Landry averages 9.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 17.4 minutes, while Casspi has put up 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 18.6 minutes. Often times overlooked, squires served a purpose, sometimes doing errands for knights. Landry and Casspi come off the bench and do the dirty work for the starters when called upon.
Court Physician: Nik Stauskas (SG)
No one likes to visit the doctor. This has been the case so far this season for rookie guard Stauskas, who has averaged just 3.4 points per game in 16.2 minutes. However, just as doctors have extensive training, Stauskas has shown the ability to be quite surgical himself, especially from beyond the arc. Some people don't visit the doctor unless they really need to. This might be the case with this team, as their sharpshooter has been under-utilized to this point. But, there may come a time very soon when he needs to step in and make a difference, healing whatever bumps and bruises come Sacramento's way.
Royal Guards: Jason Thompson (PF), Reggie Evans (PF)
Whenever Thompson or Evans are in the game, they're there for two reasons: to defend and rebound. These are the Kings' royal guards. Combined, the two average 39.8 minutes, 12.6 rebounds, and 5.0 fouls, compared to just 5.0 points. They're on the court to protect the rim and to allow their teammates to thrive in other areas.
Royal Entourage: Ben McLemore (SG), Ramon Sessions (PG), Ray McCallum (PG)
These are guys who are currently part of the team, but are playing like they're along for the ride. McLemore has started all five games for the team, but has scored just 5.0 points per game, which is a depressing number for a high draft pick who seemingly hasn't progressed very much since the beginning of his rookie season. Sessions and McCallum have shared backup point guard duties behind Collison, the musician, but have not made any major impacts so far.
Jesters: Ryan Hollins (C), Derrick Williams (PF)
There are always some players who just don't cut it... in this case, who are jokers. On this roster, it's Ryan Hollins, who has played 1.3 minutes per game this year, and Derrick Williams, who has scored 2.0 points per game in just 8.3 minutes. The former No. 2 overall pick back in 2011, the Kings can't even find anyone to trade Williams to, since no one wants him.
Back from our little history lesson and in all seriousness, this can be the year that turns the entire Kings franchise back around. After enjoying eight-straight seasons of playoff basketball between 1998 and 2006, the team has gone a dreadful 215-425 over the past eight campaigns and hasn't won more than 38 games in any of those years. In fact, they haven't been victorious more than 28 games in a season since 2007-2008.
Is this the season that the Kings return to the postseason? In a seemingly-weakened Western Conference, it seems like this is the year that Kings fans have been waiting on for nearly a decade.
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