It’s been a long time between drinks of playoff water for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The last time they made it to the playoffs was in 2005-2006 when they lost in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs to the World Champ San Antonio Spurs in a series that went to 4-2. Since then, they have failed to finish above .500 for 10 consecutive seasons while compiling a dismal record of 277-527 for a winning percentage of 33.78%.
During that time span, the team has had a number of talented players who have come and gone. Over the last six years, power forward DeMarcus Cousins has done all a man can do to turn the franchise around. While certainly culpable for being a general pain in the butt on a team that has had more than its fair share of issues and distractions, the talent this man possesses is far beyond question.
Ever since he came over as the 5th overall pick in the 2010 from the University of Kentucky, he has matched up well against some of the best power forwards in the game. In his first couple of years, his temper and overall demeanor stood in the way of his reaching an elite level of play. With that said, there was no denying the talent was there in a body chiseled from rock.
Over his first three seasons, he averaged right around 17 PPG while proving himself to be quite effective underneath both the offensive and defensive boards. It wasn’t until the start of the 2013-14 season that he started harnessing all that destructive energy into something positive. The result was an invitation to the All-Star game and honorable mention on the All-NBA team after averaging just over 22 PG with 11.7 RPG.
Since that time, his numbers have improved year over year. What hasn’t improved is the team’s overall record. Through the first 29 games of the 2016-17 season, the Kings are 12-17, riding near the bottom of the Western Conference yet again. For Cousins’ part, he has put up MVP-like numbers, scoring 29 PPG to go with 10.7 rebounds per contest.
In the prime of his career, it’s a shame team owner Vivek Ranadivé and General Manager Vlade Divac can’t find a combination of players that match up well with the skill set Cousins bring to the floor. The only other player contributing significant numbers this season is F/G Rudy Gay, who is scoring 18.6 PPG. The scuttlebutt is the team has legitimate concerns about player egos and does a poor job of keeping players in line.
Year after year, sports books list the Sacramento Kings at overlaid odds to win both the Western Conference Championship and NBA Finals (see list of sports books at gamblingwebsites.org.uk). The Kings are still a draft or two away from being competitive, unless they can find a way to become more active in the free agency market where they might have to spend some real money to land a game-changing player. Until things do change, the team is wasting the best years of Cousins’ career.