With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The
Anaheim Sacramento Kings.
Gained – J.J. Hickson, John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt, Isaiah Thomas
Probable position depth –
PG – Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas
SG – Marcus Thornton, Francisco Garcia, Marquis Daniels, Jermaine Taylor
SF – John Salmons, Donte Greene, Tyler Honeycutt
PF – J.J. Hickson, Darnell Jackson
C – DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Hassan Whiteside
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – For all intents and purposes, the Kings were the best offensive rebounding team in the league (second behind Minnesota in total ORbd). The Kings’ offense grabbed a league-best .299 percent of the available rebounds … and then probably boffed a skimmer off the back iron from three feet away … no foul.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 0
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 1, Evans
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 3, Hickson, Cousins
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 4, Thornton
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 7, Salmons, Fredette, Thompson
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. Is Tyreke Evans a point guard, or will he just play the position?
If there’s one thing Sacramento needs, it’s a nicer restaurant than an Olive Garden for high schoolers to go on dates. If there’s a second thing Sacramento needs, it’s a point guard. Evans ain’t it. Last season he spent less than 5 percent of his time at the point and his strength is in bodying up the defense and charging to the basket. Evans running the point wouldn’t be a disaster, as his willingness to drive complements most of the other rostered guards who tend to shoot first, but Evans’ court awareness hasn’t been tested … ever … and it remains to be seen what will happen once it has been tested.
2. Will Thornton get respect BEFORE the All-Star Game this year?
He’s already gotten it, sort of. The Kings have said they want to build the team around a small group of guys and Thornton was one of them t’was named. It remains to be seen how well Evans and Thornton will get along (they played limited minutes together last season in only Udrih-Thornton-Evans or Thornton-Evans-Garcia variations), but at the very least, the guy who seemingly dragged the team alongside him down the stretch, will start the new season with something he hadn’t started either of his previous two seasons with: a chance.
3. What kind of man drafts John Salmons onto his team?
He’s been overrated for two seasons, going as early as the seventh round in drafts last year. I spent most of my time warning people that he doesn’t play well until after the All-Star Break, which makes me moderately fearful that between Salmons and Thornton, this team might average 80 points a game through February, and 120 after it. But I digress (that’s just how I do). Salmons’ 14/3.5/3.5 averages last season weren’t terrible if a) you waited until the 130th pick in your draft to grab him, b) your league didn’t calculate field-goal percentages (.415! For a shooter! Exclamation mark!) and c) your league gave you additional points for drafting Bucks. Like tax incentives for charitable donations. If none of these were true for you last season, make sure they’re true for you this season.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – DeMarcus Cousins. This is a mild call as I don’t really expect Cousins to take a step back. I simply don’t expect him to advance forward much. Why not, you ask through secret mind messaging? I’ll tell you …
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – J.J. Hickson. This is why. Hickson had a lot of guff kicked at him last season, which is particularly rough because as far as I know, guff is not something that can be kicked from one person to another. If you think back to the All-Star Break – or take the time machine back there if you have that capability available to you – you’ll recall that the guff stopped here (or there – depending on when and where you’re reading this). He averaged 12/8, shooting just .445 from the floor before the All-Star Break, then entered the same steroid chamber Captain America did and came out averaging 17/11, averaging .481. ‘Reke is the obvious pick to be the team’s alpha-contributor, but his switch to PG and foot issues leave just enough room for me to think Hickson, who’ll just be turning 23, could pick right up where he left off last season.
Deep Sleeper – Francisco Garcia / Jimmer Fredette. Look, I don’t love the idea of either of these guys. It’s like Baconaise: I know it’s out there, it just makes me a little queasy thinking about it. At some point, Evans, Thornton and Salmons are going to have to take a break from all that running around that inevitably happens when one plays professional basketball. And one of these two fellas is going to be the first off the bench. My guess is, whichever player produces the most when he comes off that bench will be this team’s Sixth Man and a 2-3-tooled talent worthy of a wire pickup. I’m leaning toward Fredette, though I don’t think either will have an outstanding season. That’s why they’re here.