When we talk about championship teams, we often talk about the best players on that given team. For example, the San Antonio dynasty in the first decade of the new millenium has kept its nucleus of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan together for what, 10 years now? Guess what? They're still topping the standings at the end of each season. So what separates a team like the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, or even the newly formed Thunder powerhouse? Let's consider the Kings roster, an equally talented team that certainly has the potential to make deep playoff runs, if not capture the championship in its entirety.
The Kings' top 3: DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans. Tyreke averaged 20 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds in his rookie campaign. Marcus Thornton is a perimeter threat on a nightly basis and can nail the three at any given time, not to mention doing so while boasting excellent career percentages of 44% from the field and 82% from the charity stripe. DeMarcus Cousins averaged a double-double last season and is only continuing to improve through development of his post moves in offense and complete domination on the glass.
Sounds like a championship caliber team at first glance. A young team nucleus, two promising guards and a dominant big man, the funds needed to keep these players together, and not a shabby bench to boot. So what's the problem? Well, to look at it from a record standpoint, for the past five seasons the Kings have failed to win more than 33% of their games in any given season. Unfortunately, for the Kings, they seem to get slightly better every season; as a result, not many changes have been made to their front office, excluding the removal of Paul Westphal from the head coaching position last year.
Ask yourself, what do NBA teams usually do when they're failing? Just look at the Lakers this year; a multitalented (to say the least!) team comprised of some of the best players in the world. They've already fired Mike Brown, their head coach, who had an excellent record. Mike D'Antoni, their interim (yes, I purposely bolded, itallicized, and underlined) head coach, already has strained relationships with his big men, namely Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Let's not forget, Dwight Howard got Stan Van Gundy fired. Who wants to bet on how much longer D'Antoni's going to last? Anyone?
On a team like the Hornets, where the front office has to catch escaping talents by their tail, there's really no hope; the players obviously don't care for a place like New Orleans or its unstable future. Let's be honest, if most of us made it into the NBA, we'd want to start winning, start setting legacies, start piling championship trophies. Who would really want to rebuild a team? Who has that kind of time?
What I'm about to suggest next is probably going to be controversial, but it's what I have concluded given how the Kings have performed over the past seasons, and I'm confident most Kings fans would agree. The problem with the Kings hasn't been the talent, the front office, or some players' attitudes (I'm looking at you, DeMarcus). The problem has been what basketball enthusiasts like to call "hero ball". In other words, PASS THE BALL. Excuse my frustration, but as an ardent Kings fan for the past few seasons, I don't think I'm entirely to blame for watching my team succumb to failure when we could be easily winning if only Tyreke cut down on the scoring and focused more on getting his teammates involved. Remember what happened when Kobe started doing that (somewhat)?
Let's scrutinize the top 3 of the Kings roster, the glue that will hold the entire frame together in place. *Will continue later