Greg Wissinger, from our sister site SacTown Royalty, was kind enough to answer a few questions from me about the Kings this season in order to help me, and all Clippers fans, prep for the season opener tonight.
Here were the questions and responses:
Lucas: Most of the league views DeMarcus Cousins in a negative light, as immature and problem-causing. This is especially true for Clippers fans, where we've first-hand witnessed Cousins injure J.J. Redick on a cheap shot and pull former Kings guard Isaiah Thomas away from a post-game handshake with Chris Paul. There's no doubt that the basketball world has come around to the fact that DeMarcus is a top-tier superstar talent in this league--tell us why we should come to accept his demeanor and conduct as he's matured (or, tell us that we shouldn't).
Greg: DeMarcus Cousins had matured drastically since his rookie year, but is still prone to incidents that could easily be attributed to immaturity. He's still just 25, and absolutely hates to lose. While most players dislike losing, Cousins hates it on a level that it impacts his actions on the court. It's also worth keeping in mind that Cousins openly disdains most media, which doesn't help his image.
Cousins has matured, but will probably always be likely to lash out in anger or frustration on the court. You love him when he's on your team, hate him when you're up against him.
Lucas: Rajon Rondo was exceptional under Doc Rivers in Boston and sucked under Rick Carlisle in Dallas. Both of these coaches are widely respected across the league, but they have undeniably different styles. Rondo is a naturally gifted all-star talent who has almost a troubled genius type of persona, and he hasn't done much to improve his most glaring weakness (jumpshooting) during his nine NBA seasons. What version of Rajon Rondo will show up to play for George Karl, and what will Karl's coaching style have to do with bringing out the best from the troubled guard?
Greg: While I don't expect Boston Rondo this season, I also expect better than Dallas Rondo. I think the difference will be Karl's willingness to let Rondo do what he wants. Karl loves smart, veteran point guards, and is happy to let them serve as a coach on the floor. I'm envisioning the way Karl let Andre Miller run wild in Denver.
Lucas: Give me one player or team-wide factor that Clippers fans are not yet aware of that will make a huge impact towards pushing Sacramento towards a playoff spot this season.
Greg: The Kings are easy to dismiss, and the pieces they added this summer aren't names that blow your hair back. But what's easy to miss is that the Kings had a very effective starting five, and basically no bench last year. The Kings replaced Jason Thompson, Ray McCallum, Nik Stauskas, and Derrick Williams with Kosta Koufos, Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, and Willie Cauley-Stein. The improvement to the bench is beyond drastic. If anyone can appreciate the importance of having good depth, it's Clippers fans, right?