Will new era revive Kings?Loading

    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.

    Matt York | The Associated Press

    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.

    Kathy Willens | The Associated Press

    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.

    HECTOR AMEZCUA | hamezcua@sacbee.com
  • Three Team Trade Basketball

    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.

    Danny Johnston | The Associated Press
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