Kings of new things?

illustrations by hayley doshay

Sleep Train Arena

1 Sports Pkwy.
Sacramento, CA 95834

(916) 649-8497

One thing’s for sure: DeMarcus Cousins will be an all-star for the first time this year. He’s improved every year, and entering his third season, he’s undoubtedly one of the best big men in the West—even with the addition of Dwight Howard to the division with the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite not making the 2012 Olympic men’s team roster, Cousins dominated a few scrimmage games against the Olympic team’s players and came to the Kings training camp in great shape.

And the Kings also have a lot of other positive new things going for them this season: A new arena name (Sleep Train), a new contract with News10 to broadcast 10 games, some OK new signings (James Johnson, Aaron Brooks), and a promising, talented rookie (Thomas Robinson). They’ve also put a bunch of numbers in the win column during the preseason—certainly a departure from last year.

But as a longtime fan, I’m still skeptical. Besides, a lot of things remain the same: We’re still watching games at Arco—er, Sleep Train—the Maloofs are still thinking about taking the team elsewhere and my optimism for a good season will probably once again be squashed come January.

But who knows? Last year, “Linsanity” changed the course of the New York Knicks’ season with just a few moments of sheer dominance within a short span of several games.

So perhaps that’s what will happen this season. The team has six players who can potentially break out and take over a game on any given night: Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Brooks and Robinson. Throw in a shutdown defender like Johnson (who, by the way, is a black belt in karate with a 20-0 record as a mixed-martial artist), and you’ve got the makings of a solid team. But will they have a shot at the No. 8 seed in the playoffs?