The Sports Informant

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Sacramento Kings are a good team in the making

By Patrick Ibarra

After an impressive first week of the season, the Sacramento Kings have slipped to 3-6 on the year and second-to-last place in their division. It’s too early to panic, but what was an optimistic fallis once again turning into a gloomy winter.

Each year the Kings have acquired pieces to a puzzle Geoff Petrie believes will make the team successful again. Each year, some of those pieces leave again, but the ones that say build a foundation of youth, strength and talent that many hoped would lead to a bright future. But when does a bright future become a successful present?

Carl Landry drives to the basket against the Pistons. (Photo courtesy of Tom Paniagua)

The Kings drafted Spencer Hawes out of Washington in 2007 and had high hopes for his career. He’s gone now, replaced by 2008 draft pick Jason Thompson out of Rider. The Kings are still waiting for Thompson to develop into the player they hope he can be. Meanwhile, they drafted Tyreke Evans last year, and he went on to become the Rookie of the Year. Also drafted last year was Omri Casspi, who has shown flashes of brilliance early on and could be a key ingredient down the road.

Again, that mentality, “down the road.” The Kings drafted heavyweight talent DeMarcus Cousins this past offseason, and he has a tremendous upside. He can be a dominant big man in the league once he’s developed.

And so it goes, with the mantra that one day these Kings will bring glory to Sacramento again. Meanwhile, fans packing Arco Arena wanting to see results now are still disappointed. Year after year, they’re told to be patient. This will be another one of those years.

Unfortunately, the Kings lack the experience necessary to challenge the top-tier teams of the league. The league’s best, the Lakers, are loaded with such talent. Forget the championship rings many of them hold. The years players have played alone make a huge difference in success. Kobe Bryant is in his 15th season, as is Derek Fisher. Lamar Odom and Ron Artest sit at 11 years of experience while entering their 12th season, and Pau Gasol has been in the league nine years. The Celtics have a similar line, with Kevin Garnett at 15 years, Ray Allen at 14 years and Paul Pierce at 12 years. And oh, they added 18-year vet Shaquille O’Neal and 13-year vet Jermaine O’Neal.

That’s how you win now, with players who have won before coming together to win again. It takes time. Many of the above-mentioned players struggled in the league on bad teams before developing them into good ones. People seem to forget that.

The Kings need that time. A quick look at their roster has team leader Evans in his second season along with Casspi. Thompson is in his third year along with Donte Greene. Carl Landry is in his fourth. And Cousins, of course, is a rookie. Recently-acquired Samuel Dalembert is the team’s veteran with eight years of experience and he’s been with the team for only a few months.

As frustrating as it may seem with the losing records year after year, the Kings may just be on their way to something great. Petrie’s no dummy. His plan in the making is taking form. Of the seven first-round draft picks the Kings have made since 2005, five are still on the team and seeing heavy loads of playing time. Their development will ultimately be the final piece of a puzzle structured to take Sacramento back to the promised land. It’ll just take time.

So again, it’s currently time to be patient. The future is coming, and it will be glorious. It’s just not here yet.

Kings vs. Pistons slideshow
Photos by Tom Paniagua


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