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The Kings were lucky to have Thomas Robinson fall into their laps at the 2012 NBA Draft. The challenge now is to figure out where he fits in.
The Sacramento Kings are in the middle of a nasty relocation battle, and their owners don't have very much money left to spend on the team. Therefore, it was no surprise that they did not have a particularly busy summer. Let's take a look at the few things they did do.
DRAFTED THOMAS ROBINSON
Once Robinson slipped to the No. 5 overall pick, it took the decision out of the Kings' hands. There was no way they could avoid drafting Robinson at that point, because he was so clearly the best player available.
All that said, it's going to be interesting to see how Robinson fits in. He presumably will play at power forward alongside DeMarcus Cousins, and while that combination looks nice on paper, it's not the most ideal situation for Robinson. In college, he succeeded by banging bodies in the low post, dominating the glass and outrunning bigger players in transition. The problem? Cousins is also most effective when he plays inside and dominates the glass. There are elements of Robinson's game that he will need to sacrifice to keep Cousins in his preferred destination.
That means Robinson will be spending a lot of time on the perimeter, and the jury is still out on his ability to perform in that setting. On the one hand, Robinson's quickness will be put to better use when he squares up defenders. In time, he should be able to beat guys off the dribble with one hard move. On the other hand, Robinson is still a little too enamored with his own perimeter game. In summer league, he tried to act like a point forward, and the end results were some wild drives and many turnovers committed. Robinson has to be able to accept that he is not a creator, and the Kings don't offer the ideal roster for him to come to this realization. He also must improve his jump shot in order to be as effective playing out on the floor as he should be.
All this is to say that Robinson needs to become a slightly different player to get the most out of his ability in Sacramento. The Kings have to hope that he can alter his game enough while still maintaining all the qualities that made him so dominant at Kansas.
What a strange signing. A few years ago, when the Kings didn't have a point guard on their roster, they were interested in bringing Brooks in to solidify that position. Since then, Brooks bottomed out with the Houston Rockets, wasn't much better with the Phoenix Suns and disappeared to China for a year without any clear avenue back to the NBA. I'm not sure why the Kings still want him.
Worse, the Kings suddenly don't need a point guard anymore. Second-round pick Isaiah Thomas was a revelation last year and he has the starting job down. It's hard to see Brooks and Thomas playing together much because of their size, so it's hard to see Brooks getting much time as is. In addition to that, coach Keith Smart said the other day that Tyreke Evans will still play some point guard ... and Jimmer Fredette is still sort of in the picture. It's not immediately clear how often Brooks will play next season.
You could defend the move by noting the modest price (two years, $6 million) and the concerns with Evans and Fredette, but Brooks still feels like a curious backup point guard choice. It would have been smarter for the Kings to find a bigger player that could play in tandem with Thomas at times.
I've always been a fan of Thompson's game, and the price to keep him (five years, $30 million, with the final year partially-guaranteed) is pretty fair given the going rate for young big men. Thompson quietly had an excellent season last year, posting career highs in most shooting percentage numbers. He's also a plus defender, and his size makes him an ideal third big man that can swing between both power forward and center. He should meet the value of his contract, whether he starts or comes off the bench.
The Kings pretty much got Johnson for free, and there's a chance he might open the season at small forward. From that perspective, the move was a no-brainer. It'd be nice if Johnson was a better perimeter shooter, but as is, it's hard to complain too much about the move.