To prepare for the Clippers vs. Kings matchup this Sunday, I reached out to Akis in order to answer some questions about his beloved Kings, including how he feels about Boogie this year and a host of others. For more of in depth look at the Kings be sure to check out Sactown Royalty.
Larson Ishii: Is this the year DeMarcus Cousins becomes an All Star?
Akis: Cousins arguably should have been an All-Star last season. Unfortunately, being on a losing team and Cousins' reputation didn't do him any favors. If Cousins exceeds the year that he had last year, there's no doubt in my mind he should be an All-Star, even in the very deep Western Conference. What will really help him even more than statistical increases however, is if the Kings can manage to remain somewhat competitive and don't fall into the cellar too early.
Larson Ishii: How big will the loss of Isaiah Thomas be for the Kings this season?
Akis: It's still too early to tell, but most Kings fans were not pleased that not only did the Kings let him go, but they got a paltry return for him. If the Kings had not wanted to invest in Isaiah as the future at PG, they should have just traded him at the trade deadline last summer for something of real value. The loss of Isaiah as an asset might hurt the Kings more than losing him on the court.
Larson Ishii: In Mike Malone's second year as coach of the Kings, where are some big areas of growth we should be expecting?
Akis: Malone will continue to stress defense, and the Kings did make a nice leap on that end towards the end of the season. The focus of this preseason and offseason however has been the offense, notably to increase the ball movement and push the pace. Sacramento was one of the worst passing teams in the league last year and they'll look to rectify that this season.
Larson Ishii: Does drafting Nik Stauskas mean the Kings are ready to give up on Ben McLemore?
Akis: Not at all. At the time of the draft, Ben McLemore was the only Shooting Guard on the entire Kings roster. The Kings also were in desperate need of better shooting, given that they were one of the worst shooting teams in the league. Stauskas will give Ben some serious competition for the starting spot however, and if Ben can't find a way to be consistent, he'll be on the outside looking in.
Larson Ishii: Should we be expecting another big trade from the Kings this year like last year's Rudy Gay move?
Akis: I expect you'll see the Kings try, especially if they get off to a slow start (a real possibility given the tough starting schedule). This is not an ownership or front office group that will be satisfied with slow but steady growth. They want to make splashes and be better sooner rather than later. Expect to hear the same usual crop of names pop up, and possibly others if we see some big contract players underperform this year.