2016 Roundtable Report Cards: Small Forwards are a little good, a little bad and a little nonexistent
For the longest time, the most popular meme on Sactown Royalty was "But can he play SF?". The years between Ron Artest and Rudy Gay were filled with a morass of veterans way past their prime, young players thrust into situations they weren't prepared for, and John Salmons.
Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi and Caron Butler might be the deepest wing situation the Kingshave had in years, but even still, it wasn't without its own complications, and the grades reflect that. Note: I decided not to include Duje Dukan in these grades due to his lack of playing time. I can't say for sure, but I'm 99% sure this is why Tony refused to submit grades for anyone else.
As per the poll, the grading scale I used was as follows:
B: Exceeds Expectations
C: Met Expectations
D: Below Expectations
Feel free to share what your own individual grades are in the comments below!
Rudy Gay seemed lost and frustrated this season. He had games where he would prove he can be an elite player in the NBA, and then disappear or make bonehead plays that would cost the Kings a game. Gay was not a good fit for George Karl's system and struggled trying to play a stretch four.
Rudy had a very Rudy season, and he is what he is; a secondary offensive producer with sticky fingers (near career low in assist rate) and a oft lackluster approach to defense. He had a good statistical year (his points fell but his %s rose, and he upped his rebounding), so while I worry about the success of the offense without someone besides Cousins who can create his own shot, this summer seems the best opportunity for Vlade to get some value for Gay.
Rudy Gay had a down year, there's no denying it. Rudy more than anyone, I believe, was a victim of the offensive systems this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he bounces back next year.
This season had to come off as a disappointment for Rudy Gay. This season saw Rudy Gay constantly trying to find himself in a system that really didn't fit his skillset, and a coach that really wasn't willing to adjust much to accommodate the talent around him, and as such there was a wholesale drop in most of his stats. After two years of fairly efficient basketball, Rudy started a descent back to Earth this season, and I have trouble placing how much of that was on him and how much of that was on the system that tried to use him as a 4, and then did nothing to get him good looks as a 3. The Great Rudini was more like the The ‘Meh' Rudini this season.
Rudy was wildly inconsistent this year, but I also think that that his game suffered a lot from the hand which this team was dealt. Hopefully (if he is back) he can get a system that plays more into his strengths.
Rudy Gay should be the clear #2 player on this team. This year, it could at least be argued that he finished 4th behind DeMarcus Cousins, Darren Collison and Rajon Rondo. I'm giving Rudy a "C-," but it could have just as easily been a "D+."
And...I...guess...that's...about...it. That about sums it up. Rudy's game really sparks little commentary, which is really kind of the point.
For all the talk about how Rudy wanted to play with his old friend Rajon Rondo, I'm not sure there was anyone on the team who suffered more from a play style perspective than Rudy. Rudy spent more time off the ball than he probably has in his entire career, watching the ball get dominated by both Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins. Karl's free flowing offense with little to no set plays was clearly not to Rudy's advantage, as he definitely struggled when forced to try to create his own offense. Efficiency wise, he was about the same as his prior, much better year in Sacramento, but he definitely seemed to be lacking something this year. I'd be fairly surprised if Rudy is not traded this summer, as he's only a year away from Free Agency and he's one of the few players the Kings can move that might net them something of value.
Out of 1,066 responses, 53.9% voted for C, 21.3% voted for D, 20.5% voted for B, 3.3% voted for F and 0.9% voted for A. On a 4 point grading scale, this comes out to a 1.95, a C.
Put him in the category of Collison and Acy when it comes to energy. Casspi brings it every night. He played really well early in the season, but his shooting trailed off slightly later in the season. Statistically, however, he had the best season of his career - 11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists on 48 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from three.
Wish he'd been healthy the rest of the year. If all the Kings players had Omri's heart and grit, they'd have made the playoffs. Hope his shooting success transitions to the next offensive scheme.
Casspi was THE guy who you knew would always show up and play hard. I'm so happy for the way Omri has found his role in the league, and the way he's embraced his role on the team and in the community in Sacramento.
Omri absolutely exceeded my expectations this year. Seemingly a great teammate, and someone who wasn't afraid to be candid in an interview, one of the more impressive things that I've seen in Omri's growth in his second go-around with the Kings is how he's taken to being humbled. For the first half of the season, Omri was great from behind the arc and hustled every second he was in the game. The highlight of the season for me was his duel in Oakland against Stephen Curry and the Warriors, where he suddenly forgot how to miss from anywhere beyond the three point line. It's disappointing that he wasn't selected for the Three Point Shootout, and that the second half of the season was spent hampered by injuries, but Omri was great this year.
My mancrush for Omri only grew this year. I love this man. Sure, there are times where he can make a boneheaded play, but even then I can't get mad at him because it is usually because he is trying so hard. His three pointers were great this year, especially before his injuries, and he still gave us the same hustle plays that we loved all year. He did everything we wanted him to do and then some.
Omri earned a B+ from me, the same grade that I gave Darren Collison. While Collison started slowly and finished strong, Omri was at his best early on and through the middle of the season, tailing off a bit near the end. All told, Omri certainly exceeded the expectations of a $3m a year guy that I had projected as a guy that would finish around 8th on the team in minutes (he finished 5th, despite missing 12 games). Omri's .409 shooting percentage from beyond the arc was an eye-opener, and his professionalism was an oasis in the Kings' desert of dysfunction. I have mentioned this elsewhere, but Omri, Collison, Acy and Cauley-Stein are the guys that I would like to keep if I were charged with disassembling the current roster. It was a pleasure watching Casspi ply his craft this year, and pleasure was in short supply for this team this season.
I was really resistant to giving anyone on this roster an A after how disappointing the season was, but I had to do it for Omri. Yes, there's a little bias, as he is my current favorite player on the team, but if there was anyone on this roster that truly excelled under George Karl, it was Omri Casspi. Omri proved his prior year's three-point shooting wasn't a fluke, shooting above the 40% mark on a career-high 4 attempts a game. I'll be interested to see how he's utilized by Dave Joerger, and if Rudy is moved as I suspect he might be, how he deals with being a full-time starter.
Out of 1,062 responses, 50.5% voted for B, 31.2% voted for A, 16.0% voted for C, 1.5% voted for D and 0.8% voted for F. On a 4 point grading scale, this averaged out to a 3.1, a B.
I am giving Tuff Juice an incomplete because we didn't see much of him on the floor this season. I will give him an A for his leadership, however. Many of the players on the team commented on how much he provided in that area last season.
As a player, Caron didn't get to do much. As a leader, I'm exceptionally glad he was on the roster, and I hope the next coach somehow convinces him to stay. The Kings eed less guys like James Anderson (and dare I say, Eric Moreland or Duje Dukan) and more veterans like Butler if they want to become a smart, disciplined team.
This rating is likely due to the inexplicable lack of minutes. Butler still looked productive when he actually played. I just thought he'd be used more and, as such, produce more.
I expected him to come in and provide veteran leadership and to play spot minutes as the back-up small forward. He did more of the former than the latter, but, I blame that on the coaching staff and not on Caron.
Sounds like Caron Butler was a better coach for these players than coach Karl was. He played in 17 games, and probably three of them were "meaningful". He was mad the whole year that he never got a chance, despite his 14 years of service in the NBA. As such, this grade has very little to do with his on the court play, and everything to do with him as a locker room guy. I hope that we can bring him back as a serviceable veteran off the bench. He looked a little rusty at times this year, but you can't blame him when he barely played.
He was disappointing in his little time on the court, and while I can't blame him for the dysfunction that permeated this Kings team, he provided no cure, and his veteran savvy and leadership was supposed to be part of the package. There is really no area where Butler met what were low expectations for me.
I have to say I was a little bit surprised that Butler didn't see more time this season, but then again Omri Casspi was playing really well and Karl seemed really resistant to trying an aging Butler out at Shooting Guard (a position he's only played sparingly in his career, and when he was much younger). I've heard nothing but good things about Butler's reputation in the locker room, and that was the primary reason I was excited to add him to the team. I'm a little surprised we haven't heard any official news on his player option yet, as he was someone that I expected to definitely opt out.
Out of 1,052 responses, 41.5% voted for C, 21.3% voted for D, 18.5% voted for B, 10.6% voted for A and 8.1% voted for F. On a 4 point grading scale, this averaged out to a 2.02, a C.