It's good to be back.
Happy Halloween all! Another exciting season of Kings basketball is upon us, and of course this means the return of the wildly successful and not-at-all-profitable GB&U series on STR. The Kings have started the season with a three game road trip, just like last year, but this time came out of it 2-1, despite not really playing that great overall. Still, I'll take them.
1. Francisco Garcia
See Player of the Week
2. Third Quarter Resurgences
In all three games this week, the Kings made their comeback in the third quarter, outscoring the opponents in each third quarter played, and also limiting opponent points. The Kings have outscored their opponents 89 to 55 in the third quarter so far. Good adjustments coming out of half time.
3. Tyreke Evans' Three Point Shot
When Tyreke gets his feet set and shoots a three pointer now, it looks good almost every time. He's 3-4 from long range so far this year, and I have a feeling his overall 3P percentage will be somewhere in the 35-40% range by the time the year ends. Just my thoughts after watching him through preseason and shooting before games.
4. Samuel Dalembert's Defense
Dalembert made his debut against New Jersey, and although he only played 6 minutes, he was about the only King that had any success guarding Brook Lopez, stuffing him twice. Then against Cleveland, Sammy comes in and injects some much needed energy into our defense, and keeping the opposing guards out of the line. He had another two blocks in 16 minutes, but his long arms also altered a few shots as well. It was truly refreshing to see. The one block he had was a beaut, letting JT front his man, not falling for the pump fake, and then coming up and swatting him when he went up for the shot. Just beautiful.
5. DeMarcus Cousins is an Impact Player
Big Cuz hasn't started off his rookie season in spectacular fashion, but he has been incredibly solid in each game. The New Jersey game was tough for all of our big men with the way fouls were being called, and nobody could get into a rhythm, but he still managed himself well in only 21 minutes. He tries to do too much at times, and hangs around the perimeter a bit too much for my liking, but he's highly skilled, is grabbing boards, finding teammates, and finishing with authority. He's also incredibly good at getting to the free throw line, getting their 18 times already in his first three games, and even better, shooting 77.7%. I think we'll keep him.
6. Taking Care of and Moving the Ball
Through three games, the Kings have a combined Assist:TO ratio of 70:39 (about 1.8 to 1). That's pretty good for a team that had a bit of trouble there last year.
7. "You Don't Mess With the Zohan!"
Omri Casspi looks like he's solidified his hold on the starting SF spot, especially after Saturday's ridiculous performance against Cleveland. Aside from a relatively poor showing against New Jersey (where nobody but Cisco and Darnell played all that well), he's been playing with a lot of energy and effort, hitting his open shots, and hitting the glass hard. His defense also looks improved, at least his effort on that end. Omri started off extremely well last year too, so hopefully a season's experience will give him season long consistency.
8. The Juice Man Cometh
When the Kings traded Jon Brockman for Darnell Jackson, I didn't think he'd make the team at all. I was surprised they hadn't waived him by the time Summer League had started. But Jackson has probably been the most consistent big man on the roster so far. He has a nice touch on his jumper, can hit the boards, and also defends well. He doesn't need much, and he's a great team player. I'm shocked that Scott Skiles didn't play him at all last year. James is right. As cool and as good a rebounder as Brock is, D-Block is a much more complete player, and he's helped the Kings win a couple games to start the season.
9. WaBeno Might Have Been 08-09 Beno
It's good to see that Beno seemingly hasn't reverted back to his old habits and is really flourishing playing under Westphal. He's done an excellent job running the team (21 assists to 4 turnovers through three games), and his patented stop-and-pop is as deadly as ever. He's also shown a lot of effort on the defensive end although at times he just isn't physically able to guard some people (see Luke Ridnour, Devin Harris, any guard wearing a Cleveland uniform), but he's done well at playing the passing lanes, and even had a HUGE block against Cleveland. Or maybe the Yeti did.
10. Luther Head
When we signed Luther, I definitely thought he'd make the roster. But never did I think that he'd basically become the de facto backup point guard. But he's doing a good job of it. I wouldn't trust him to run the offense by himself (as evidenced at times against Minnesota), but he's an extremely good shooter, and a pesky defender as well. He's excellent when paired with another ballhandler, especially at finding the open man (he has 10 assists to 1 turnover so far).
11. Top Hat's Offense
Carl Landry is an extremely efficient scorer, and he's continued to prove that these first three games. He has that jab step jumper down pat, and around the basket, patience is a virtue for him. He's a steadying presence on this team, and right now I think that giving the ball to him and getting out of the way is the surest way to guarantee a point on a possession for us, even more so than Tyreke.
12. The Manna Tracker
Someone mentioned in a comment thread (I can't remember who or where) that we should have a sidebar to track something, just like we did last year with Tyreke's 20-5-5 and also for lottery positioning. Scanning a box score, I noticed that Darko had a 0 assist, 5 turnover night. So with Ziller's help, we now have the Manna tracker, tracking Darko's, the best passing big man since Vlade, assists as well as DMC's, who David Kahn passed on because he had Darko already. True story.
13. Everyone's Healthy!
1. Tyreke Evans' Jumpers that are not Three Point Shots
While Tyreke has diligently worked on his outside shot all summer, his midrange game is still severely lacking. When his feet are set, as I mentioned above, his shots look good, especially from three for some reason. But through the two games, his pull-ups are bad for a couple reasons. One, he brings up the dribble and then fades away from the basket, so its no surprise that most of his pull-ups are short. Two, that long two point jumper is the least efficient shot in the game. If you're going to be attempting pull-ups Tyreke, take it a little closer like Beno does it.
2. Donté Greene's Fall From Grace
I'm not putting this in the Ugly quite yet because so far Omri and Francisco have really been handling the Small Forward spot well, and in the only game Donté got any burn in, he was missing his shots. Still, it saddens me that he's basically been relegated to end of quarter defensive specialist only three games into the season when he has so much promise. Still, at least its a defined role.
3. DeMarcus and JT Foul Trouble
JT is currently averaging about 7 fouls per 36 minutes, and DeMarcus is averaging about 6.6 fouls per 36 minutes. Both those rates are much too high, and both players need to learn to start playing defense with your arms straight up and to stop reaching. The team getting others into the penalty so early in a quarter has cost us a lot of points so far. They both did much better in the Cleveland game, but Cleveland doesn't really have a low post threat to worry about aside from Hickson.
4. Starting Games Strong
The Kings have fallen behind by double figures in each of these three road games, all in the first half, necessitating big comebacks for the Kings to win. This has been largely due in part to a poor quarter in the first half (the 1st against New Jersey, and the 2nd against Minnesota and Cleveland) and lackadaisical defense. Perhaps an interior defensive presence like Dalembert is warranted in the starting lineup in order for the Kings to start strong.
5. JT Finishing Inside
JT has always seemed to have this problem, but its been seemingly excessive so far this year (and through preseason) where he gets a good shot near the basket, but just cannot seem to get the ball to go in. He definitely needs to work on some finesse and patience around the rim to increase his production.
1. Finishing Games Strong
In all three games, the game came down to a sizeable Kings lead with only a few minutes to go, and in each game, the other team was able to get back in it, and in New Jersey's case, win. The Kings tend to stop running their offense the way that got them the lead in the first place, and go into a sort of prevent offense that tends to end up with 24 seconds gone and a missed shot for the Kings. We easily could have been 0-3 after this week because of the execution late (or lack thereof). Had we executed, we would have been 3-0 easily.
2. Cleveland Game Halftime Video
Jim Gray interviewing Kobe Bryant? I'd rather watch the Twilight movies by myself, sober. Good timing to put it as the Halloween special, because it was spooky. I thought I changed to the wrong channel.
3. Perimeter Defense
The Kings are not defending the three point line well at all. It cost us the game in New Jersey, and it almost cost us the other two games as well. We did a better job against Cleveland, but in the end they just started missing the same shots that they were making in the first half with regularity. The three point line has been the source of much misery for the Kings defense so far.
4. HIT YOUR DAMN FREE THROWS
Through three games, the Kings are shooting a meager 71.6% from the line, another reason these games have been unnecessarily close.
5. Devin Harris for Game Winning Threes? WTF?
Harris has been in the NBA for 7 seasons now. He's a career 30.3% shooter from range. Of course he knocks 2-2 on the Kings including the go ahead bucket. Crazy. You almost want him being the one to take that shot considering the Nets feature sharpshooters like Morrow and Outlaw on the roster. Still, big time players come up big in those situations, so good for him, bad for the Kings defense.
Player of the Week:
14.7 PPG, .536 FG%, .600 3P%, 3.3 RPG, 2 APG, 1.7 SPG
Due to the last game against Cleveland where he only played 17 minutes, Cisco's statline isn't the best on the team after three games (that would probably go to Beno). But after two straight years of starting the year on the inactive list, Cisco has come back with a vengeance and looks really good. He's tenacious on defense, and his shooting has been absolutely excellent so far. If Cisco can maintain this type of production off the bench all year, I think we should all chip in and make Andy Sims wear a Garcia jersey in public. It's great to see Cisco start the season like this, and hopefully he can have a healthy one and keep it up.
GIF of the Week:
Comment of the Week:
Highlight of the Week:
This Week's Picture:
A reminder of the rules for the Caption Contest. Leave your caption in the comments below, and the most rec'd (to recommend a comment, hit action, then rec) caption wins. This week's caption contest winner will receive a free copy of David Kahn's upcoming book: "Manna from Heaven: a Love Story".
And Nostradumbass Prediction for Next Week:
v. Toronto 11/1 W (This is going to be the home opener and the Kings should be pumped. Also, Toronto is probably the worst team in the league this year. No go-to options, and a horrible defense)
v. Lakers 11/3 W (My brain says loss, everything else screams win. The game will be nationally televised, and the last time the Kings played on ESPN, Tyreke stole the ball from Arenas to win the game. Replace Arenas with Kobe, and Reke solidifies himself in Kings lore)
v. Memphis 11/6 W (Yeah we're going to sweep this week. Memphis will be tough, but they should be without Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol isn't the epitome of health himself.)
Nostradumbass Record for the Season 1 - 2 (Confession. I thought the Reke-less Kings were going to lose to the Timberwolves. My bad.)