July 28, 2016, 3:37 pm
The Kings may have been the most interesting team in the league because they were the most dysfunctional team in the league. No matter who would be to blame for that, the end result was a substandard season that left more questions than answers for the Kings. Hoop Ball’s Post-Mortem series takes a look at what happened in California’s capitol city.
The King’s season exhibited one of the biggest nightmares in NBA head coaching history with George Karl standing behind the bench. Let’s just say Karl won’t be getting many Christmas cards from his former squad this year. With the team appearing to quit on him and displaying an evident lack of chemistry, effort and outright rebellious behavior at times, the off-season couldn’t have come soon enough. With a talented roster of bona fide all-stars at their disposal, the team only managed to muster up a disappointing 33 wins. Kings’ GM Vlade Divac has a busy summer ahead of him but he has at least found a new man to lead the pack and that man is former Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger. Joerger is a player’s coach and he should be able to manage the oft hot-headed DeMarcus Cousins after proving himself by taming the likes of Lance Stephenson, Matt Barnes and Zach Randolph.
ADP: 9, Total Value: 21/37 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 10/20 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 65
Cousins dealt with foot and Achilles’ injuries while generally being banged up for most of the season. It didn’t help that his coach ran him up and down and around the floor like he was Richard Hamilton while leaving him in games he had no business playing in.
Beyond that, it was a season of frustration for Cousins and probably a step backward in certain areas of his development like shot selection and defensive awareness. George Karl often misused Cousins on the perimeter at the expense of post play which led to his ADP underperformance. There’s going to be a bunch of hidden value in that equation because Dave Joerger certainly won’t make that kind of mistake. Cousins should again demand a late first-round pick next year in standard leagues.
His 3-point shooting is probably a good thing for his value in a vacuum, but he has a lot of work to do in order to get the bad habits of Karl’s detrimental system out of his own system. The things we’ll be watching for next year are his weight and his health, because otherwise he’ll play at this level or much better. Oh and the fact that he’s a tech-machine. He was slapped with a suspension in March but that was expected by all of his fantasy owners. Cousins is a passionate guy so you’ll know what you’re getting on draft day.
ADP: 104, Total Value: 25/48 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 22/51 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 72
Well first off, Rondo crushed his ADP by around 60 positions due to his terrible season with the Mavericks so his owners got themselves an absolute steal on draft day. He likely carried your team in assists with 11.2 on the year, good enough for the league lead. However, often times his abysmal shooting from the field and from the line along with his lack of 3-point range could hurt you in a few categories. Luckily he can be one of the league’s top thieves with a career average of 1.8 steals per game.
Rondo can still ball and signed a huge 2-year deal with the Bulls in free agency this Summer. He’ll have weapons at his disposal with Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis as teammates. When motivated, Rondo can be one of the best players in the league with his nightly triple-double ability or he can sting you like he did with the Mavericks. Sophomore Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg will have another point-guard that he’ll have to maximize next year and it should be safe to draft Rondo around the tail-end of the early rounds of your fantasy draft.
ADP: 40, Total Value: 50/50 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 43/46 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 70
Rudy Gay was a bit of an afterthought this year behind the dysfunction that is the Kings and the stellar play of Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins. Still he managed to live up to his ADP and was solid in his 70 games played which in fact was the most games he’s played in his last four seasons. We can’t classify him as an iron man just yet so consider his extensive injury history on draft day.
He’s on contract for another two years with a player option in his second year and will have to share minutes with newly acquired Matt Barnes on the roster. His production could rise or fall depending on the point-guard who will start on opening day and he should be relied upon heavily in 30+ minutes per game. Still, with his value still difficult to predict, you could wait until the middle rounds to grab him.
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 123/120 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 114/108 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 69
There was a stretch in the season where Omri Casspi built a home in must own territory with top-100 value. We will classify this as a breakout year for the Israeli forward as he averaged career highs in points (11.8), rebounds (5.1), and 3-pointers (1.6) per game while tying his career average in steals (0.8).
Casspi is entering the final year of his deal and will have all the incentive in the world to show that last season wasn’t a fluke. He’ll contend with the likes of Arron Afflalo, Rudy Gay and Matt Barnes at the small-forward position and possibly Ben McLemore if he shifts to shooting guard. With the added cast around him he’ll need to make a strong impression early with Kings head coach Dave Joerger. Casspi could be a sneaky late round pick up and perhaps will enter must-own territory if Rudy Gay is traded or injured next season. Both scenarios are possible.
ADP: 129, Total Value: 71/66 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 81/79 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 74
Overall, Darren Collison has failed to live up to the hype of his strong play once upon a time for the New Orleans Hornets when Chris Paul was lost for the season due to injury. He finds himself in the final year of his deal after disappointing campaigns with the Pacers, Clippers, Mavericks and now the Kings. He did quietly average 14 PPG, 2.3 REB, 4.3 AST, 1.0 STL and 1.2 3PM per game good enough for seventh-round value in most leagues which is where he was likely drafted.
The light at the end of the tunnel may be coming for Collison however as Rajon Rondo is now the former starting point guard of the Kings. There is a world of opportunity ahead of Collison and he has a golden opportunity to show that he can lead a franchise. He showed flashes of greatness in spot-starts for Rondo this year so he’ll be looking to shed his inconsistent label come tip-off in October.
ADP: 138, Total Value: 176/145 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 171/136 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 66
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the Karl era in Sacramento was the misuse of Willie Cauley-Stein. There was plenty of hype surrounding WCS during the preseason with his stylistic compatibility with DeMarcus Cousins. Too bad we didn’t get to see much of this with Karl burying Cauley-Stein with a putrid 21 MPG with the occasional DNP-CD sprinkled in.
Expectedly so with this low usage, the rookie let down many of his owners this season and he even played in 12 less games than Kosta Koufos. Hopefully Dave Joerger’s first order of business is to unleash the rookie and to give him the minutes that he needs to blossom into an NBA big man. It won’t be a hard task to do. However, due to the lack of historic data, WCS’s true potential is unknown at this time. He did average 7 PPG, 5.3 REB and a block per game in his 21 minutes which translates quite well to 36 minutes. He would be a great late round flier if he’s still available in your leagues if you’re in need of a cheap big man.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
ADP: 136, Total Value: 233/262 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 253/301 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 68
McLemore took a huge step back in his third-season as a pro and saw his minutes drop to 21 minutes a game from 33 minutes. This was likely due to the arrivals of Rudy Gay and Collison, as well as the emergence of Omri Casspi. His season averages predictably dropped across the board and he finds himself on the brink of another disappointing season with not much opportunity opening up so far in the offseason.
He is several injuries away from fantasy relevance so steer clear from McLemore in all but the deepest of leagues.
ADP: 135, Total Value: 237/255 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 265/294 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 68 (Heading 4)
The Italian stallion just wrapped up his ninth NBA season in typical Belinelli fashion with averages of 10.2 PTS, 1.3 3PM, 0.5 STL per game in 68 games mostly off the bench. He’ll be donning a Hornets jersey in the upcoming year and will likely earn 15 or so reserve minutes off the bench behind Jeremy Lamb and Nicolas Batum.
ADP: 130, Total Value: 310/302 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 273/273 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 44
The other Curry actually made some noise towards the end of the season with a 20 point 15 assist showing against the Suns after several weeks of posting career highs in points. Next year he’ll be on the point-guard needy Mavericks and will look to establish himself as their long-term solution at point guard. He’ll be battling old-timers Deron Williams Raymond Felton, Devin Harris and Jose Juan Barea for minutes. The Mavericks signed Curry at a steal of $3M per year. He’ll be a watch target depending on how the Mavericks’ season goes.
George Karl’s preferred center over Willie-Cauley Stein didn’t really do much to justify his 19 minutes per game with averages of 6.8 PTS, 5.4 REB and 0.9 BLK per game. With a new regime change in Sacramento we’re expecting a memorial service and a burial of Koufos’ fantasy value. He’ll still serve as the backup center and will fill in as a starter on games when Boogie is suspended.
Acy had some good opportunities and he took yet another step forward this season, but he still couldn’t make his way on to the standard league radar. Averaging 14.6 minutes, 5.1 points, 3.1 boards, 0.3 treys, 0.5 steals and 0.4 blocks per game, he showed some good versatility but he’ll need to take another step forward in order to be relevant in most fantasy leagues.
The Kings needed to address their off-the-court issues and then find a coach. They did the latter first and hopefully he’ll be able to help with the personalities in the King’s locker room. They need to avoid spending money on free agents that don’t make sense. Matt Barnes may turn out to be a great signing and he will follow his former coach to his new team but other than that the Kings look to have struck out in free agency. They’ll be starting a new point-guard next year so we’re likely to experience some growing pains. If they can do all of this and start to heal the wounds of the Pete D’Alessandro/George Karl era, they can start the long haul toward respectability in the NBA. The development of their young big man Willie Cauley-Stein and their ability to retain DeMarcus Cousins who is approaching the final two years of his deal will be a telltale sign of their future success.