Somebody has to be last, and somebody has to deliver the news that there are certain NBA teams that are going to be bad and have no hope for the 2013-14 season. But is it always an insult to consider a team as weak? There are different levels to being bad in sports.
There are franchises which are truly incompetent. They are the opposite of the Midas Touch, turning everything that comes within reach into something toxic and invaluable. Their efforts are constantly futile and ineffective and are seemingly stuck in time as a perpetual lower-tier team.
Then there are the bad teams that embrace being bad for the moment. They’re not accustomed to the feeling and they’ve only reached desperate times due to varying circumstances, whether it’s an injury to a star player or a devastating trade, or they grew disgruntled and frustrated with only being average and decided to tear it down and start over.
These teams are rebuilding. The teams described in the prior paragraph are in a constant state of rebuilding.
But the franchise content with being average is far worse off than a bad team. Becoming complacent and settling into constantly — being a four-to-six seed and going no further than the second round — is a far worse fate than being a bad team. At least the bad team can realize its faults and immediately start over; the average team has to fool itself into believing they could catch an elite team off guard.
It’s not easy getting out of this hole. It takes years of drafting the right players, finding the right coach to manage a roster that’s mostly comprised of developing players, and convincing veterans to help your poor roster.
Franchises only have so much money to spend; they have to make it count. Make the wrong move and you end up with Al Jefferson or Brandon Jennings as cornerstones.
There have to be teams for the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder to fill their highlight reels with. Here are the five teams that are going to end up doing so this season.
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The Sacramento Kings are an enigma. You take a look at their roster year-after-year and think, “You know, there’s a lot of talent on this team. They may actually contend this year” and then the rose-colored glasses come off and the Kings win less than 30 games again.
Sacramento hasn’t won more than 30 games since 2008. Their winning percentage of 34 percent last year was their highest since ’08 and they haven’t had a winning season since 2006.
None of those stats are going to change and I have no idea why they won’t. There’s so much talent on this roster, yet it wouldn’t bat a single eye in the NBA community if they finished last in the Pacific for the sixth time in eight years.
Sacramento enters the 2013-14 season with a rookie head coach in Mike Malone and a talent-laden roster that includes a borderline All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins, brilliant playmakers in Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez, lethal shooters in Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette and a rookie guard in Ben McLemore.
The Kings new coach has been coaching since 1994 and has been doing so on a professional level since 2001. He most recently spent time with the Golden State Warriors.
What does all of it add up to? Somehow another missed postseason, another season of less than 30 wins and another season of questioning why this Kings team cannot concoct a way to emerge out of the basement of the Pacific, despite having obvious talent throughout the roster.
In that rundown of Sacramento’s rotation, did you notice I didn’t mention any defensive specialists or shotblockers? The Kings have a lot of players who can score, but they lack any sort of defensive-stopper, with the exception of newcomer Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. That’s a good start, especially since it means less John Salmons, but he’s only one man.
Scoring is fun, but defense wins championships. Sacramento gave up over 105 points per game last season, which was nearly three points more than the next team in terms of defensive incompetence. It is the second consecutive season where the Kings have ranked dead-last in points given up per game. Sacramento has been giving up at least 103 points per game since 2007. It shouldn’t take that many coaches and general managers to figure out where the true problems lie.
Defensive lowlights from last year include yielding 123 points in a loss to Denver, 141 in a double-overtime loss to Miami, 123 to Dallas and 130 to San Antonio. They finished the season giving up at least 104 points in their final five games of the season. Appropriately, they ranked 27th in blocks per game.
Sorry, Sacramento, but Dikembe Mutombo, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Alvin Robertson, Ron Artest, Ben Wallace and Bill Russell aren’t walking through that door. It’s going to be another season filled with excitement involving the Kings. Unfortunately, most of that excitement will be generated by their opponents.