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The Kings have burned through five coaches in the seven seasons since Rick Adelman last led them to the playoffs. Who will emerge as the leader of this dysfunctional organization? Consider the trend of their last three lottery picks: Tyreke Evans has lost his way, DeMarcus Cousins has yet to prove himself reliable, and Jimmer Fredette's NBA career may end when his current contract expires. This is a roster aching for veteran leadership, yet 26-year-old Jason Thompson will most likely be their oldest starter, and coach Keith Smart is surrounded—and potentially overwhelmed—by players who need the ball as well as direction.
There is raw talent—very raw—on the roster. (Cousins, who showed up in camp looking slimmer, led the NBA in offensive boards.) This could turn into a building year if the young Kings learn to tap their unrealized potential. It isn't that Cousins, Evans, Thompson and Marcus Thornton don't want to hold themselves accountable; it's that they don't know how.
COACH: Keith Smart (2nd season with Kings)
2011-12 RECORD: 22--44 (5th in Pacific)
OFFENSE: 98.8 ppg (6th)
DEFENSE: 104.4 ppg (30th)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 20.4 ppg (T-23rd)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]