Seven takeaways from the Kings' 2016-17 season
With the 2016-17 season in the books, there are plenty of positives from the way the Sacramento Kings finished the year. Here is a look at seven takeaways as the Kings venture into the offseason.
7) Dave Joerger is here to stay...
The veteran NBA coach abruptly left the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2016 offseason, signing a four-year deal to coach the Kings. With a quality staff in tow, Joerger showed that he can do more than coach a veteran team. He called the 2016-17 season Year Zero after the DeMarcus Cousins trade, but the franchise got a nice long look at the young core down the stretch.
6) Willie Cauley-Stein has more to give
Cauley-Stein looked lost during Summer League and even more confused once the season tipped off. Murmurs of another poor lottery selection in Sacramento began to emerge, but then the 7-footer made adjustments. Cauley-Stein finished with a fury, showing that he can score, rebound and even dish the ball to go with his defensive acumen.
5) Buddy Hield might answer the bell at the two
The Kings have struggled to find a starting shooting guard since Kevin Martin was dealt to Houston in 2009. Francisco Garcia, Marcus Thornton, Ben McLemore, Nik Stauskas and Arron Afflalo all tried to steady the spot, with varying degrees of success. Hield, the sixth overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, came over in the Cousins trade and instantly cemented his spot as a starter. The rookie finished the season in Sacramento averaging 15.1 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 42.8 percent from 3-point range over the Kings’ final 25 games.
4) The veteran core is solid
Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are free agents this summer, but Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Langston Galloway and Anthony Tolliver could very well be back next season. Vlade Divac wanted cultural building blocks and this group has a ton to offer the young guys. Temple, Galloway and Tolliver have worked their way into the league the hard way, spending time in the minor leagues and overseas. Koufos is a pro’s pro. There is plenty to like from the vets as the Kings enter their rebuild.
3) Skal Labissiere has star potential
Labissiere somehow slid down the draft board to the 28th selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. The 21-year-old big showed enough in his late season audition to earn a look as the starting power forward year two. He can shoot the ball, score in the post and rebound at a high level. He needs to get stronger and work on his handles, but this was the steal of the draft and the sky’s the limit.
2) Vlade Divac can mine for talent
Divac has taken a beating for everything from not answering the phone to selecting players like Georgios Papagiannis. His free agent additions have been solid and the rookie class of Papagiannis, Labissiere and Malachi Richardson looks promising. Adding Hield via trade and picking up Bogdan Bogdanovic as a throw in while adding two picks in the 2017 draft has the Kings starting over with a glimmer of hope. He needs a home run in the draft, but Sacramento has some building blocks in the post Cousins era.
1) Cap space is King
With the cap moving to $103 million next season, Sacramento has a ton of cash to spend. Depending on what happens with Rudy Gay, Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver and Ben McLemore, the team could have upwards of $60 million to spend during the offseason. A key addition here and there and the Kings might be able to accelerate their build much faster than previous thought. Spend wisely, Mr. Divac.