April 14, 2017, 5:43 pm
That’s it folks, the Kings’ season is in the books. Sacramento concluded the 2016-17 season with a record of 32-50, which is one win shy of last seasons 33 win campaign. The season was filled with hope, upset wins, excitement, drama, shock and many losses; so in other words, it was a typical season for the Sacramento Kings.
The DeMarcus Cousins trade sent shock waves through a fan base, a city and the entire league. We got a pretty good taste of what life is like without Cousins in Sacramento. As the season came to a close, it started to become clearer that maybe this team is better off without him; maybe he was holding them back? That is not a question we can answer just yet. We may have to wait a couple more years to find the real answer to a question that everyone has been asking themselves for a while now, well before the trade occurred.
The Kings have a handful of promising young talent on their roster. Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson highlight a bright future for Sacramento. Over the final 25 games of the season (post All-Star break), the Kings had a record of 8-17 which isn’t too bad considering the amount of youth they have in their lineup. Their effort and play over the final quarter of the season is a testament to how hard they work and how good they can potentially be.
Sacramento only played two games in the final week. The Kings had no problems dispatching the Suns in Tuesday’s final home game, 129-104. Sacramento pretty much led from start to finish with Buddy Hield leading the way compiling a career-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field. Ty Lawson also had a career night notching his first career triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in 30 minutes of action. Georgios Papagiannis posted a tidy stat line with 13 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-9 shooting too.
The Clippers were too strong for the Kings in the final game of the season. Los Angeles had homecourt advantage in the first-round to play for so they came out motivated. DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers to a 115-95 victory with 18 points and 17 rebounds in 36 minutes. Willie Cauley-Stein was great dropping 19 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 35 minutes of work while Arron Afflalo finished the season on a high with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Player Power Rankings
Note: These rankings are based on each player’s performance from this week, not on the entire season.
#1 – BUDDY HIELD (LAST WEEK: #5)
Buddy Hield takes the spoils at the top this week. He had averages of 23.0 points and 6.0 rebounds on 53.4 percent shooting from the field. After his rough outing against the Rockets last week, he bounced back strong to close out the season on a high. It would be no surprise to see Hield average 20-plus points per game at some stage in his career, hopefully with Sacramento.
#2 – TY LAWSON (LAST WEEK: #7)
Lawson only played in one game this week but his triple-double against the Suns was good enough to earn him a spot at number two. He is a free agent this summer so his future with the Kings is up in the air. You could argue he will be a better option than Darren Collison but his off-court issues are a concern if you were to sign him long-term.
#3 – WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN (LAST WEEK: #2)
It’s a slight dip for Willie but he remains in the top-3 yet again. He posted averages of 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 50.0 percent shooting from the field. He is the Kings’ starting center of the future and over the final 20 or so games of the season he proved that he is certainly worthy.
#4 – BEN MCLEMORE (LAST WEEK: #3)
Ben McLemore continues his strong play to close out the season. This week he averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 44.6 percent shooting from the field. With the Kings’ glut of guards he may not return next season but he made Vlade’s decision much harder with his standout play over the last couple of weeks.
#5 –GEORGIOS PAPAGIANNIS (LAST WEEK: #6)
Papa G continues his steady climb up the rankings this week. He put in two solid games, especially against the Suns which was mentioned earlier. Depending on who the Kings bring in during the offseason Papagiannis could very well be Sacramento’s backup center next year. He showed enough during the final quarter of the season to earn that role but it would depend on a few roster moves.
#6 – Arron Afflalo (Last week: Not enough minutes)
Afflalo appears in the rankings for the first time in a few weeks. He only played in one game this week dropping an efficient 18 points in 34 minutes against the Clippers. It is unlikely that he returns next season as his contract has a very small guarantee and it wouldn’t cost too much for the Kings to simply cut him.
#7 –SKAL LABISSIERE (LAST WEEK: #1)
Skal dives down the rankings this week after some underwhelming play. He averaged 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 42.9 percent shooting from the field. His play this week is nothing to be worried about. He is still very young and an entire offseason to refine his game will do him wonders.
#8 –GARRETT TEMPLE (LAST WEEK: #4)
Temple continued to be a menace on defense against the Suns. Offensively, he managed 10 points, three rebounds, five assists and one steal on 4-of-7 shooting. He will almost certainly return next season and this is great news for the Kings as he is a valuable piece to the roster.
#9 – ANTHONY TOLLIVER (LAST WEEK: #10)
Like the other veterans, Tolliver only played in one game this week. He was fairly solid against the Suns dropping 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 21 minutes off the bench. He could potentially be cut during the offseason but his veteran leadership and dead-eye shooting could be useful next season.
#10 –LANGSTON GALLOWAY (LAST WEEK: #9)
Galloway got some more court time this week as the season winds down. His best outing came against the Clippers where he played 41 minutes and recorded 14 points, four rebounds and six assists on 4-of-11 shooting. He could remain at the end of Sacramento’s bench next season but it’s hard to say at this point.
Injured: Rudy Gay (Achilles) and Malachi Richardson (hamstring).
Not enough minutes: Kosta Koufos, Darren Collison and Tyreke Evans.