Mar 23, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) drives in against Milwaukee Bucks forward Chris Wright (15) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-107. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings: Backup Point Guard A Priority Next Season

The glory days of cowbells and Chris Webber scowls have faded in Sacramento, but the Sacramento Kings have found a formula in gathering young talent. With a legit interior presence in DeMarcus Cousins, versatile wingman Rudy Gay, and a talented shooter in Ben McLemore, the Kings could definitely blossom into a team to catch the eye. One cannot mention this squad without their own “Mr.Irrelevant,” Isaiah Thomas. In 2011, Thomas was the 60th pick in the NBA draft, making him the last selection of the second round. It seems that the team has found their point guard of the future.

Apr 13, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) takes a shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-103. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The scrappy guard, who is small in stature (5’9″), carries himself and performs in the kind of fashion that leaders from the lead guard position should. Last season he posted 20.3 points (career-high) and six assists per game. Thomas carried a reasonable load of the team’s offense, with his scoring touch and passing ability. With a strong offensive output this year, teams will be honing in on Thomas, attempting to take away his strengths. At 25 years old, and in his fourth year approaching, there is no doubt that Thomas is capable of carrying his team, but the drop-off at point guard is evident on the roster.

Ray McCallum is the only point guard behind Thomas, and he will be entering his second season in the NBA. McCallum averaged 19.9 minutes in 45 appearances. Asking McCallum to follow Thomas’ lead as a young guard is an approach that the Kings should proceed with caution. Team will definitely look to expose the youthful backcourt, and the team would benefit from the possible addition of a veteran. The Western Conference is especially fit for point guard depth. Its best teams bolster complimentary pairs such as the San Antonio Spurs with Tony Parker and Patrick Mills and the Oklahoma City Thunder starting Russell Westbrook, backed up by Reggie Jackson.

Some ideal guys that will be available next season include Kirk Hinrich, Shaun Livingston, and former Sacramento King Greivis Vazquez. These players each offer leadership, postseason experience, and the ability to provide cohesion amongst Sacramento’s roster.

Hinrich has proven to be a great asset on both sides of the ball throughout his 12-year career. His recent stint with the Chicago Bulls featured him stepping into the starting role, as Derrick Rose went down for the season. Hinrich has played in 55 playoff games.

Shaun Livingston has definitely shown a unique ability to restructure his game, after a career-threatening knee injury in 2007. He is fresh off of a playoff run with the Brooklyn Nets, and one of his best seasons, playing in 76 games (started 54). His versatility to play both guard spots is rare.

Greivis Vazquez was traded last season after starting 18 games with the Kings. He was able to succeed in a reserve role with the Toronto Raptors, where they nearly outlasted the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Vazquez offers good size, and familiarity with the Sacramento system, so his addition may not come as a surprise.

With the options in front of them, the Kings will definitely look to make personnel decisions this upcoming offseason. The moves must continue to be the right ones, if they expect to get into the growing elite in the Western Conference.

 

Tags: Isaiah Thomas Sacramento Kings

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