5 Reasons To Watch The 2013-14 Sacramento Kings

With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.

Today we discusss the revamped Sacramento Kings.

[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]

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New Ownership, Management & Coaching
Fans in Sacramento can breathe a sigh of relief. The Kings are in town for good now, thanks to new majority owner Vivek Ranadive. The new head honcho in Sac-town also brought in coach Mike Malone, by way of Golden State where Ranadive had previously been a minority owner and Malone had been an assistant.

While the timing of the hire was a bit peculiar — since the team didn’t yet have a new GM after Geoff Petrie‘s long overdue dismissal, new GM Pete D’Alessandro and Malone appear to be a really good solid 1-1 punch at coach and GM. With the Kings overhaul in the front office and on the sidelines complete, look for the stability to translate onto the court, too.

McLemore Takes Flight
Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore might be the best player in this past summer’s draft. He’s got the talent, the sweet stroke, and some major ups.

But it remains to be seen whether that can translate on an NBA hardwood. The rookie-to-NBA leap can be trying for many players, especially for guys like McLemore who had a tendency to float in colllege. During his lone season with Kansas, the 6-5 off-guard shot close to 50 percent from the field for 15.9 PPG in a little over 32 minutes a night. He also snagged over 5 rebounds a game and averaged a couple assists every night.

Ben could disappear for long stretches in college. People still aren’t sure if he can create his own shot at the next level, and his defensive effort could wane at times during his lone season with the Jayhawks. Those are the the primary reasons he dropped all the way to Sacramento at No. 7. Regardless of his motor and his tenacity during his freshman year at the University of Kentucky, a 42-inch vertical means Kings fans will get the pleasure of watching him sky this season even if he experiences some growing pains during his rookie year.

Chris Mullin & Shaq
Shaquille O’Neal was brought in as a minority owner, but much like Jay-Z‘s time as an owner (cough, 1/15 of a percent owner at that) of the Nets, Shaq’s role will be figurehead and tutor to young center DeMarcus Cousins. Still, it doesn’t change the bizarre series of events that brought Shaq in to the fold for the Sacramento “Queens.”

Former Warriors and Pacers great Chris Mullin was named the advisor to the chairman (Ranadive). What did the 50-year-old Hall of Fame sharpshooter do after getting the role? He just went out and destroyed the young Kings players in a 3-point contest.

The Bay Ridge, Brooklyn bred 1992 Dream Teamer will be a wonderful addition to the overhauled Kings franchise, and we couldn’t be happier for the people of Sacramento. Shaq is cheesy, but lovable — and we’re guessing he’ll help Cousins; Mullin is a fantastic advisor AND shooter. Jimmer Fredette and Mulls are gonna have some fun shooting battles after practice. The people of Sacramento deserve this excellent group after the hell that was the Maloof tenure.

A Study in Contrasts: Isaiah Thomas vs. Greivis Vasquez
As part of the three-team trade sending Tyreke Evans to Nah’Leans, the Kings acquired the strong and rangy Greivis Vasquez from the Pelicans. Some Kings players are going to be a tad surprised when Vasquez actually passes them the ball. The 6-6 Venezuelan is big enough to back down opposing points and see over the top of them for feeds to Cousins, Jason Thompson and summer acquisition Carl Landry.

But Vasquez will have to earn the starting spot over the stubborn Isaiah Thomas. The sub-6-footer has won the starting job over other players many consider superior (just ask ‘Reke about his change to small forward). We spoke with Thomas a few different times this summer and in every instance you got the feeling he was ready to challenge the preceived notion that Vasquez will just take his starting job without a fight. We’re looking forward to that battle in preseason and beyond. Whereas Vasquez is a pass-first point who sometimes looks like he’s stuck in cement on defense, Zeke bounces all over the court like a pinball point. Both bring different things to the table, but only one will be on the court at the tip.

Boogie’s Maturation
DeMarcus Cousins has to be feeling pretty good about his offseason. He signed a four-year max extension this summer despite some concerns from Kings fans as to whether he was worth $62 million over four seasons, starting next year. But the new ownership group is led by Ranadive and they’ve shown support for Boogie when many would have written hiim off as too much of a pain to re-up.

Part of the problem with that max extension was Boogie’s godawful defense. This summer, Grantland’s excellent Zach Lowe went into detail about what Cousins needs to work on — specifically his P&R D — if the Kings are going to turn into a legitimate team with Cousins as their best player. They gave up over 2 points more per 100 possessions last season when Cousins was on the floor (via NBA.com), and he needs to reverse that trend if he’s going to live up to all that money.

But Shaq could help, and his presence will go a long way in calming some of Boogie’s worst tendencies: complaining to officials when he should be hustling back on defense, inter-personal skills with teammates (not that Shaq is the best example), and his overall attitude when things aren’t going his way on the court. With Shaq, Mullin, a new owner that believes in him and a new coach that will insert a consistent defense (hopefully one that has Cousins drop back on the pick-and-roll to corral the driving guard rather than step out, which Cousins has trouble with), this could be a watershed year for the center out of Kentucky.

What do you think?

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