|The only way to watch a Sacramento Kings' game is with a few of these.|
(photo courtesy of Josh Chiaratti)
After seeing a RealGM feature on Team Roster Composition where the Detroit Pistons tallied 11 players acquired via the NBA DRAFT, disgruntled Sacramento Kings’ fan, Josh C. unleashed yet another, passionate rant on his favorite NBA team. This is him attempting to keep his emotions in check and sharing why being a Kings’ fan was frustrating enough before the team was sold to a group out of Seattle--Ed
The Detroit Pistons have 11 players on their roster that were acquired via the draft. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn't matter how many draftees you have. It matters how many difference makers you acquire. In the right NBA market, all it takes is drafting one difference maker and that difference maker (along with a strong organization and a bit of luck) can bring in the difference making free agents needed to compete for a title. So even though the Pistons have drafted 11 players that are good enough to remain on their roster, none of them could be considered difference makers. Only three players were lottery picks:
- Andre Drummond
- Brandon Knight
- Greg Monroe
The Pistons have some nice players and they have developed solid players; none of those players will be taking the Pistons to the next level any time soon. Detroit is in a sort of NBA Purgatory: mediocre enough to not get a high pick in the NBA DRAFT, but still bad enough to not be playoff contenders. So a team can rack up as many 1st round picks as they want, but mid-lottery picks aren't going to get you over the hump.
Why am I so confident about my statements about the Pistons? Let’s just say I speak from experience. 20 or so years of watching losing season after losing season and watching most of those teams be good enough to be nothing more than an ordinary squad, but not terrible enough to get a high, lottery pick--that kind of experience. I’m talking about the Sacramento Kings.
How does one start to strategically vent his 20, or so, years of frustration into writing. Well, let’s look at the roster:
- 7 Players selected via the Draft
- 1 Player acquired via Draft Rights’ Trade
- 3 Acquired via trade
- 3 Signed Free Agents
It should be noted that the Kings would have more players “Acquired via Draft” if it wasn’t for the fact that the team’s front office basically “sold” away 2nd round picks for practically nothing. Also, those drafted players are—you guessed it—not difference makers. Yes, there are 5 lottery picks:
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Tyreke Evans
- Thomas Robinson
- Jason Thompson
- Jimmer Fredette
But all of those players have proven to not be key, cornerstone, anchored, franchise players that every good title contender needs. Yes, Cousins might be that guy, but his volatility and immaturity downgrades him in the grand scheme of things. Would you want your franchise to build their title hopes around Cousins? Heck, even the Pistons aren’t interested in Cousins! So we have some up-and-coming talent, but they’re not players who will put any team, let alone the Kings, over the hump. They’re not difference makers.
It’s bad enough that our collection of drafted players are not good enough, but then GM Geoff Petrie decides that it would be a splendid idea to lock in mediocre veterans to go along with incompetent draftees. This creates a less flexible, more expensive, subpar, pedestrian, and uninspired team.
I’m talking about players like Marcus Thornton. Thornton was basically, at best, a Sixth Man, spark plug off the bench. He finished the 2011 season strong. And then the Kings do the unthinkable and sign him to a 4 year, $33 million contract. Really--$33 million for Marcus “freakin” Thornton?
Then there was Chuck Hayes. The Kings had offered him a four year contract. A long-term deal for Hayes? That’s inexplicable! However, the Kings were saved because Hayes failed a physical due to heart problems. So the Kings saved themselves from a $21.3 million salary cap nightmare. All is good! WRONG!!! After further evaluations, Hayes is cleared to play and not only do the Kings offer him the same four years as originally intended, but they offer him more money! What is going on here?
But the final blow to the head comes in the shape of John Salmons: a player the Kings were all too thrilled to be rid of the first time around, somehow makes his way back to the team (more on that later).
And these are just a handful of trades and free agent signings that have plagued the Maloofs and the Kings in the last seven years or so (The Kings are one of two teams since 2005-06 to not make the NBA playoffs—Ed). But it wasn't always like this. At one point under the Maloofs, the Kings were good at developing talent, fighting the Los Angeles Lakers for titles, hiring great leadership that signed and traded for amazing talent.
So what happened?