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  • Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

    DeMarcus Cousins has impressed USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo with his attitude this week.

  • DeMarcus Cousins

  • Jason Thompson

  • Luc Mbah a Moute

  • Marcus Thornton

  • Greivis Vasquez

Will new era revive Kings?

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 2:27 pm

The Kings' new leadership didn't hesitate to shake up a roster that had been bogged down with the same problems year after year. Selfish play, indifference on defense and the unprofessional habits that weigh down a franchise have been the culture of the Kings.

Scouting reports, attention to detail and the preparation needed to win have annually given way to players focused on their own agendas. The results have been predictable, and the Kings, for years mired in ownership instability, have remained one of the worst teams in the NBA.

With the ownership issues resolved, it remains to be seen if the revamped roster will help push the franchise into a new era that competes for championships instead of high lottery draft picks. The new era begins at training camp, which opens Oct. 1 in Santa Barbara.

A look at the reshaped Kings entering the 2013-14 season.


Starter: DeMarcus Cousins

Backups: Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes

The skinny: Cousins has been tabbed as the cornerstone of future success for the Kings. He's one of the most talented young big men in the NBA, but he still has a lot of work to do to become an elite player. His efficiency on offense must improve, and he has to shoot 50 percent or better. Defensively, Cousins must be more of an asset than a liability or he could watch Thompson, Hayes or even Carl Landry take his minutes late in games. The Kings would love to add a defensive-minded complement to Cousins. A shot blocker who would allow Cousins to log minutes at power forward would be ideal. Without that, it will be up to Cousins to be an anchor around the rim offensively and defensively. How he buys in on both ends of the court will dictate how much the Kings improve.


Starter: Jason Thompson

Backups: Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, Carl Landry (free agent)

The skinny: This is the deepest position on the team after the addition of Landry. Exactly how Malone utilizes the quartet might be his biggest challenge this season. Landry certainly will be a part of the rotation as the lone player joining Malone from Golden State. Thompson has been solid but not spectacular, partly because of inconsistent minutes. If Thompson can average close to 10 rebounds, it will be hard to get him off the court. Patterson provides the Kings with a stretch power forward to space the floor. Hayes is a defensive specialist who also happens to be one of the Kings' best passers. The player who defends, rebounds and can make open shots consistently likely will receive the majority of the minutes at this position.


Starter: Luc Mbah a Moute (trade)

Backups: John Salmons, Travis Outlaw

The skinny: Mbah a Moute is the kind of defense-first wing player the Kings need to help shore up their shoddy defense. He can defend multiple positions and, like Vasquez, will be expected to add more professionalism to the locker room. Salmons is viewed as an asset on the court by the new regime, assuming he can be a scoring complement to Mbah a Moute. Salmons also has a contract that has a buyout after the season, so teams looking to clear salary cap space will be calling the Kings to deal. The Kings also have the option of using three-guard lineups with Vasquez or McLemore filling the spot on the wing.


Starter: Marcus Thornton

Backups: Jimmer Fredette, Ben McLemore (rookie), Trent Lockett (undrafted rookie)

The skinny: Perhaps no player struggled more with not having a defined role last season than Thornton. After he led the Kings in scoring as a starter in 2011-12, Thornton's playing time fluctuated and his production was inconsistent. New coach Michael Malone could elect to keep Thornton as the sixth man and start McLemore, the Kings' first-round draft pick. That would give the Kings a bigger backcourt to start games, but McLemore has to prove he's ready to handle that responsibility. Thornton is a proven scorer but will be challenged to defend better. Fredette remains popular with fans but was miscast as a traditional point guard. His best asset is his shooting, but finding minutes for Fredette won't be easy.


Starter: Greivis Vasquez (trade)

Backups: Isaiah Thomas, Ray McCallum (rookie)

The skinny: The Kings dealt their former point guard of the future (Tyreke Evans) and landed Vasquez, a pass-first point guard with good size (6-foot-6) and the leadership intangibles needed in the locker room. Vasquez was third in the NBA with 9.0 assists per game for New Orleans last season. Vasquez's addition means a new role for Thomas. The Kings tried to supplant Thomas as the starter last season but eventually conceded he was the team's best floor leader. Most league observers view the 5-9 Thomas as a backup. The Kings are intrigued by the possibility of their new point guard tandem, too. Ever the competitor, Thomas won't concede playing time to Vasquez or McCallum, a second-round draft choice. But the Kings are definitely better with Vasquez on the roster.

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