Cincinnati Kings 2023 Season Preview
- By Andrew Seitz, Day 1, 2023
The young 2022 Kings surpassed expectations and ended up in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but the gulf between them and the Huskies was shown to be pretty large when the Huskies defeated them in 5 games. The 2023 Kings will return the top 8 players in terms of minutes in 2022, and have an average age of 21.6, with ten years between the oldest player (Vickery) and the next oldest players. We will be focused again on development and looking towards our window, but if a young player or two makes a jump we could make some noise in the east. As should be obvious by the GM’s slack comments, the Kings are obsessed with efficiency and having players that can do multiple things on the court.
Head coach Elliot Brennan was let go by the Kings early and replaced by former Bullets assistant Matt Turner. Though Brennan had some success the past two season, the Kings decided that a changing league required a coach with a different skill set. Turner is an excellent instructor and excels in finding young players with potential, and coaching them up to reach that potential. The change in coaching risks some backward movement in terms of team record (especially since Turner is coming off the debacle in Baltimore last season), but should pay off in the long term.
Starter: Christian Vickery
Backups: Tyson Ferguson, Ashante Brooks, Eli Custer, Chris McMullen
Vickery was a tremendous stabilizing force on the Kings, and has greatly helped the development of the younger players. He has also taken to mentoring Tyson Ferguson, who will battle it out for the backup PG role with Brooks, Custer, and McMullen during training camp, in a competition will likely not be finalized until midway through the season. This is the only position which will likely show some decline from last year, due to Vickery’s advancing age.
Starters: Detrez Owens, Victor Olojakpoke
Backups: DeMarco “Machiavelli” Prince, Eli Custer, Devion Jensen, AJ Aly
Owens made some good strides in his sophomore year, increasing his WS/48 from .076 to .111, mostly due to an increase in offensive efficiency. Olojakpoke’s defense was badly needed on the wing, and he also shot 39% from 3 during the regular season and 45% during the playoffs. We traded all three of our backup wings last season (Turner, Richardson, and Wallace) and so there are a lot of minutes up for grabs for rookies. Our first first round pick, Prince, was highly rated coming out of college and has a good combination of offense and defense. Jensen is similar to Olojakpoke, having great length, and had a good all-around year prior to breaking his lower leg towards the end of the college season. Our second first round pick, Custer, was underrated by the services and sniped one pick before the Drones would have selected him. He can play either guard position but his future is at PG.
Starters: Richmond “BENSANITY” Benson, Latrell Mason
Backups: JaMarcus Thybulle, Omari Woodley, Cody Muller, Tomas Bullard
Benson and Mason return as a strong 4-5 combination. Benson is under team control now for five years, and will look to build on his playoff campaign which saw him put up 19 ppg, 11 rpg, and 3 bpg. Mason won rookie of the year and will look to build on that success. The only position that we didn’t have adequate cover for was C, and of course Woodley was injured in a freak off-season incident and will miss 3-4 months. Bullard and Benson will take the back-up C minutes, while Thybulle will get some extra minutes for his sixth man of the year campaign.
Back-up PG between Ferguson and Brooks. The main goal in this position is to see if we have on our roster a long-term solution at the PG position. Both of these players are on the last year of their contracts, and will compete for the back-up PG role. Ferguson’s scouting has been horrible but hit stats and potential upside are fantastic, which combined with his workhorse personality could see him develop into a really good player. Brooks has also put up some really good numbers, albeit playing with Weaver. We’ll see if he can replicate it here.
Last roster spot between AJ Aly and Chris McMullen. Aly is a 3 pt specialist that can’t do much else; McMullen is a low-ceiling PG who did not work hard enough in camp last season. One of them likely will not make the final roster, while the other will be the third leader of the team behind Vickery and Bullard.