As the field for the NBA Finals is now down to 4 (
Indiana, Miami, SAS, Memphis), the hopes and dreams of the other 26 teams have faded quickly. Some of them (Clippers, Knicks, Nuggets, OKC) left the playoffs too early, some of them (Lakers, Brooklyn) never materialized what they thought was a great team, and others (Minnesota, Philadelphia) were hit by the injury bug and never got to see their team perform at expectations. So as 4 teams compete for the ultimate goal, let’s go over what each team needs, in order to reach the conference finals next year. We’re going to go over a few teams each week as we approach the NBA draft.
Group L - Should we hit the restart button?
30 - Kings
When your best two players are Demarcus “completely unpredictable yet finally productive” Cousins and Tyreke “you sure he was the Rookie of the Year?” Evans, you might not be in great shape. That being said, they have a few nice pieces, such as Isaiah Thomas (who I would rank somewhere between the original Isaiah Thomas in his prime, and the original Isaiah Thomas as a front-office man on the Knicks – yes, a very wide range) and Marcus Thornton who is a very solid 6th man in that he can score on his own and in bunches. So what’s going on with them? Why are they so bad?
Well, as we said, their best players aren’t guys you can lean on for a whole season (and often not even a whole game). So let’s start by saying they will not make the Western Conference Finals next year, but if they want to get there eventually, they need to start over. In this recently point-guard heavy league, Isaiah Thomas should be their back-up point guard and Marcus Thornton can stay as the 6th man. Demarcus Cousins has blossomed this season, so they need him to be able to do any damage in the future. However, they need some veteran presence to mentor him. Tryeke, on the other hand, they need to give up on the Tyreke era and trade him for some nice pieces, such as a veteran big man to mentor/compliment Demarcus (maybe like a Jermaine O’neal who will come cheap), and some young pieces. That coupled with a likely high draft pick could make the Kings team look like this come next year:
We can’t assume we know any trades, so for now, these projections will be using Free Agency and the draft.
Biggest Needs: Point Guard, Veteran Mentor for Demarcus Cousins (preferably a center)
Michael Carter-Williams (draft)
Kyle Korver (FA)
Jermaine O’neal (FA)
Key Bench Players:
Would this team make it to the Conference Finals? No.
Would this team make it to the Playoffs? No.
But imagine if Demarcus Cousins was no longer a liability, and that he developed a repertoire with a young point guard and they were flanked by some solid shooters/scoring heavy bench, that’s definitely playoff potential in two years from now.