Rumor is the Sacramento Kings built their arena over a Gold Rush massacre site. That would explain to an extent the franchise’s bad luck since its arrival in Northern California in 1985.
Following the Kings’ first postseason berth in 1999, the dead spirits seemed at peace until Robert Horry reawakened them in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Until now, it’s been the same old sorry tune.
Sacramento has made seven straight lottery appearances (the second-longest active streak to the Minnesota Timberwolves’), and even their college saviors have succumbed to the curse. The highest draft pick in Kings’ history, Tyreke Evans, was traded in the offseason. DeMarcus Cousins appears possessed at times. At least Jimmer Fredette can sell jerseys and bobbleheads.
We could ponder best-case scenarios for the Kings, but what’s the point? To raise fans’ hopes, only to have them crushed (again)? Here’s the nightmare scenario, so that we’re mentally prepared for another rebuild:
- At the one, Greivis Vasquez suffers complications from his offseason ankle surgery, which forces the Kings to rely on Isaiah Thomas. Thomas continues to shoot lights-out but fails to involve his teammates, which reverts the club to its selfish tendencies. Ray McCallum isn’t ready for the big leagues, and Fredette shows no improvement in his defense.
- Shooting guard Marcus Thornton averages 20 points per game but in an inefficient manner. For every off-balance three he drills, he clanks two. Thornton serves as a poor role model to Ben McLemore whose confidence is shaken after a slow shooting start.
- John Salmons’ game finally falls off the Earth, as he loses his punch on offense and is slowed on defense by a balky hip. Luc Mbah a Moute fills the void, but his own offensive struggles force head coach Mike Malone to limit his minutes.
- The power forward position becomes associated with mediocrity as Patrick Patterson’s development stagnates, and Chuck Hayes can’t recapture his magic with the Houston Rockets. Carl Landry returns from hip flexor surgery in March but is noticeably overweight.
- The deathblow for Sacramento comes when Cousins suffers a significant injury for the first time in his career. Jason Thompson takes over at center and performs admirably but reminds viewers he is a fourth option on offense at best.
- With all the dysfunction, coach Malone can’t sell his team-first philosophies, and the Kings’ defense deteriorates through the course of 82 games. A long-overdue trade shakes up the roster in February and Malone is forced to start from scratch in 2014-15.
Disturbing yet believable? ‘Tis the life of a Kings fan. Missing the playoffs is a guarantee, but it’s reasonable despite evil forces to expect 30 wins. Small victories are better than none.
Photo Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacbee.com