Projected starters: Greivis Vasquez, Ben McLemore, John Salmons, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
The Kings have languished with a woeful start out of the gate, looking like one of the league's worst teams in the early going. A five-game losing streak prompted new coach Mike Malone to overhaul his starting lineup, replacing Marcus Thornton with McLemore and Patrick Patterson with Thompson. Visit SB Nation's Sactown Royalty for more.
Rising: Isaiah Thomas is playing absolutely out of his mind right now. 18 points per game on 12 shots and 4.7 assists per game alongside 2.3 turnovers - and doing it with only 27 minutes per game. He's been getting to the line at a tremendous rate and also been deadly from behind the arc. The only person able to stop him right now is Malone, who for some reason isn't playing him every second he can.
Not so much: Thornton, Patterson, Salmons, Thompson - take your pick. All have started the season in a terrific slump that led to their early losing streak. DeMarcus Cousins offered some helpful thoughts on the subject:
"It's about the effort, and the effort's not there," Cousins said. "It's clear it's not there. They've got to get their heads out their butts right now, and we've got to come out here and play."
What you might not know: Three years ago, the Kings committed the third-most turnovers in the league. So far this year, they've committed the fewest. Some of that has to do with personnel, Tyreke Evans not always being the most careful player with the ball along with some improvements at point guard. But Cousins deserves some definite credit for his improvements in this area of his game. He was fifth in the league in turnovers as a rookie, but has cut his average from 3.3 per game to 2.4 per game - and that's while leading the league in usage rate so far this season.
Don't let him beat you: Cousins has been either great or awful so far this season. In four games he's averaged 30.5 points on 23.5 shots, 11 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 1.5 blocks. Then in the other three he's averaged 11 points on 11 shots, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block. Golly, he sure seems like the right guy to be criticizing the consistency of effort of his teammates!
Cousins has always struggled with fouls, but is having even more difficulty this season. This could be a great opportunity for the troop of Pistons big men to exploit, going to work against Cousins in attempt to get inside his head and keep him off the floor.