Ham's 10 positive signs to take away from Kings' 2015-16 season
Finding the positives
When the Sacramento Kings fell short of the their lofty playoff hopes, it appeared that the season was a complete disaster. But that’s crazy talk. There are always positives and negatives to take away from an 82 game schedule. Here are a few of the best takeaways from the Kings 2015-16 season.
1. Willie Cauley-Stein
Before the draft, some folks questioned Cauley-Stein’s dedication to the game. They have no idea what they are talking about. This kid is a breath of fresh air. A star defender in the making with so much more to give. If you could only look him in the eye and see the passion that burns inside of Willie, you would believe too. After plenty of whiffs in the draft, Divac found a winner.
2. Darren Collison
PROFESSIONAL. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Collison is one of the most underrated players in the game. He put this team on his back and carried them in the second half of the season. One of George Karl’s failure was his inability to realize that the real star on his bench was Collison, not Marco Belinelli. 50 games too late coach.
3. The end of Sleep Train Arena
This isn’t the Garden, but when you think of west coast NBA basketball, it begins with the Great Western Forum and ends with Arco Arena. Cowbells. 19 years of 100 percent sellouts. This was a building that almost cost Sacramento it’s team, but not because of it’s bones or it’s soul. The Kings closed this building out in style. Nothing but class for Arco Arena. Phil Jackson feared you. That is all you need to know.
4. DeMarcus Cousins
Fans are so fickle. Pick up a couple of techs and fight with a coach that lost the locker room before Christmas and the fans call for you to go? Cousins is a star. He finished fifth in the league in scoring at 26.9 points per game. He finished fourth in rebounds at 11.5 rebounds per game. He dominated. He’s a two-time All-Star and he should be an All-NBA first team selection. If the Kings run this 25-year-old out the door, they may wait decades for another Hall of Fame caliber player.
5. Quincy Acy
This guy brings a smile to everyone’s face. He is the consummate pro and a teammate that no one wants to see leave via free agency. The heart and soul of the Sacramento Kings may have been a 25-year-old guy with a beard fit for a King. Hustle. Passion. Irreplaceable?
6. Seth Curry
Steph’s little brother is a player. A bonafide player. No one looks worse than George Karl here. While he rode Marco Belinelli to one loss after another, Curry was just sitting there waiting. WAITING. How can you call a guy your best perimeter defender and then not play him for a month? Will he stick in Sac or get big-time cash elsewhere? The Kings will have a chance to match, but it will have to be for the right price.
7. Caron Butler
Class act. When things went south, Butler stepped in front of the media to set the record straight. When he stepped on the floor, he was nothing short of Tuff Juice. The Kings gave a 35-year-old player a two-year deal and they would be honored if he played one more season in Sacramento.
8. Omri Casspi
While teams were handing giant stacks of cash to wings around the league, the Kings brought Casspi back on a two-year, $6 million deal. He put up career numbers, including a second straight season over 40 percent from long range. His presence in the locker room was a plus as well.
9. Rajon Rondo
Records. He might be one-and-done in Sacramento and if he is, he rewrote the book. 839 assists in 72 starts. 50 games with 10 or more assists. He erased Reggie Theus’ name from the book and he didn’t need short-shots to do it.
10. 33 wins
33 wins doesn’t sound like much, but for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in a decade, it means something. It’s not good enough, but it’s a place to start. Everything from this moment on has to build on this moment. No steps back.