The Sacramento Kings' biggest move this summer was the move that didn't happen when Sacramento successfully retained their professional basketball franchise. The roster underwent a drastic makeover, though, including the trade of former fourth-overall draft pick Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The coaching staff will have plenty of positional depth to sort through with the additions of players like Greivis Vasquez and Carl Landry. It's a new leadership group, new head coach and fresh start for the franchise going into the 2013-2014 season.
Greivis Vasquez: The Kings traded for the pass-first point guard and Sactown Royalty's Tom Ziller expects him to get the starting nod over Isaiah Thomas this season. This means that big man DeMarcus Cousins will play with a point guard who looks to facilitate more than score for the first time in his career. Vasquez put up 13.9 points and nine assists per game last season, both career-highs. and finished second in Most Improved Player voting. Vasquez can build on his breakout season by minimizing his mid-range field goal attempts and focusing on organizing the Kings' offense. If things don't go well for Vasquez, though, Thomas could make a run at the starting spot
Marcus Thornton: Ben McLemore fell to the Kings with the seventh pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but it's unclear if he will be thrown into the starting lineup immediately. Thornton, then, is a safe bet for the starting position to open the season, as he's a known quantity for the team. His ability to create his own shot makes him valuable, but he's also a great spot-up threat from beyond the arc. Thornton shot 42 percent from deep on spot-up attempts last season, according to MySynergySports.com, making him a great drive-and-kick target for Vasquez. The starting position is both Thornton's to burn and McLemore's to earn.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: Mbah a Moute is another of the Kings' summertime acquisitions, and he gives them a defensive forward who can guard multiple positions. He won't provide much offense for the Kings considering he averaged 6.5 field goal attempts per game last season with the Milwaukee Bucks while shooting just 40 percent from the field, but he's the best wing defender on the Kings roster since Metta World Peace according to Sactown Royalty's Akis Yerocostas. Mbah a Moute's defense and rebounding (career 5.3 rebounds per game) make him a solid fit in the Kings starting lineup, especially with high volume scorers on the roster around him.
Patrick Patterson: Power forward is another position where there is little clarity as to who starts, but Sactown Royalty predicts that Patrick Patterson will be the man. Patterson can effectively be the Kings' stretch frontcourt player, as he shot 49 percent from mid-range last season and 44 percent from three-point range. Patterson has just three years of NBA experience in his career and is still young at 24, making him a potential long-term player for the franchise after they acquired him from the Houston Rockets last February. He is another low-usage player, like Mbah a Moute, who can play within a system and won't play outside of his role.
DeMarcus Cousins: Center is the lone position where the starter is clear, as Cousins serves as the Kings' franchise centerpiece as they move forward. Cousins has improved his offensive efficiency each year and raised his true shooting percentage to .524 last season. He is one of the best centers in the league offensively, but he must improve defensively to become an anchor and leader for the Kings. Still, Cousins' ability to score will be important to the Kings after trading away the 11.8 field goal attempts per game Tyreke Evans averaged.
Ben McLemore: The Kings' lottery selection from the 2013 NBA Draft is unlikely to be thrown into the starting lineup to start the season. Mike Prada ranked McLemore 30th out of the incoming rookies after his disappointing Las Vegas Summer League performance. Time will tell if playing with NBA talent, and not a mix of summer league invitees -- along with spending time learning his role with the team under head coach Mike Malone -- can allow McLemore to show the talent that made him one of the top prospects in the draft.
Isaiah Thomas: The 5'9 lead guard may lose his starting role as point guard to Greivis Vasquez, but his ability to score as a change of pace makes him an important part of the Kings' bench unit. Depending on how Vasquez fits in the starting lineup, and how Thomas performs off the bench, he should still see close 20 minutes per game and will be a helpful scoring presence with the reserves.
John Salmons: Last year's starting small forward could occupy the position again, but is more likely to head to the bench. Salmons shot less than 40 percent from the field last season, his worst mark since 2003-04.
Carl Landry: The Kings' marquee free-agent acquisition will be an important reserve at power forward, reuniting with coach Mike Malone after a successful season in Golden State. Landry posted a 60.5-percent true shooting percentage last season, scoring at an insanely high efficiency and also picked his spots at only 7.4 field goal attempts per game. The Kings signed him to a four-year, $27 million deal and may want use that investment in the starting lineup, but he could be a great scoring punch off the bench when Cousins isn't on the floor.
Jason Thompson: The previous starting power forward for the Kings could find himself behind both Landry and Patterson at the position. It's also likely that Thompson plays minutes behind Cousins at center. Thompson is another high-efficiency, low-usage player for the Kings.
Deep on the bench
Chuck Hayes: Hayes may be the Kings best frontcourt man defender, but is 6'6 and will likely have a hard time finding his way in the rotation. He also destroys any floor spacing on offense -- Hayes made just three field goals from outside the paint last season.
Jimmer Fredette: With McLemore, Thomas, Thornton and Vasquez all likely to receive extensive playing time, the 2011 first-round pick will have a hard time earning minutes. The Kings are deep at shooting guard, and Fredette doesn't possess the ball-handling ability to play significant point guard minutes.
Ray McCallum: The 2013 first-round pick was impressive in the Las Vegas Summer League, but is still likely to earn only spot minutes behind Vasquez and Thomas.
Travis Outlaw: The onetime Portland Trail Blazer has seen his NBA career stagnate since departing Rip City. He is unlikely to earn significant minutes this season.
Mike Malone: Malone landed his first head coaching gig, following new owner Vivek Ranadive from Golden State, where he was the lead assistant, to Sacramento. Malone had served as an assistant in the NBA since 2001 and was named the best assistant coach in the NBA in 2012. Malone's focus will be to improve the Kings' defense (29th in defensive rating, 30th in points allowed per game), and he will have plenty of work to do.