Our beloved Kings are broken. That much is clear. What isn’t clear is how they will be fixed, or who will be the one to mastermind the recovery. We can obviously no longer hold out hope that our GM or our Head Coach will provide any salvation. Geoff Petrie is quickly collapsing under the weight of his own genius, like Van Gogh, Hendrix, and Dave Chappelle, and has already completely lost touch with reality. Paul Westphal is so obsessed with his pure, straight hatred of Donte Greene, that he can hardly be counted on to eat, sleep, or bathe properly, let alone make strategic adjustments in-game and between games.
No, Kings fans; the task of fixing this team falls to us. It’s time to gather the collective might of Sactown Royalty in one place and solve this riddle once and for all. Let’s hash this out until we all unanimously agree on a single, simple answer, and someone will then deliver our wisdom to the team to execute our solution. (You, the stay-at-home dad that hasn’t played organized sports since freshman year of high school, why don’t you begin?) Don’t mind if I do.
I’m not sure when Beno Udrih became a sacred cow on this team, but maybe it’s time to bump him to the bench. Yes, he is one of our most consistent and efficient (and consistently efficient) players. But Steve Nash, he is not. I see a lot of talk, here and elsewhere, about how Tyreke Evans can’t be counted on to run our offense, how we need Beno in the starting lineup to keep ‘Reke from crippling the team with his selfishness and poor decision-making.
Well, guess what? Beno has been in the starting lineup since the middle of last season, and our offense is not so great. I’m not saying that it’s Beno’s fault, just that he doesn’t seem to be providing what this team is counting on him for. Yes, Beno Udrih plays with much more control than Tyreke Evans. He makes far less mistakes and careless turnovers. But he doesn’t seem, to me, to be doing any better a job of getting the team into a good offensive flow than Evans is. Neither player is doing a good job of passing on the pick-and-roll, or feeding the post quickly and effectively, or hitting shooters in rhythm in the spots they want to be. Both players are at their best when looking for their own shot. Plus, Beno is getting killed on defense.
I really don’t mean to pick on Beno I just think he’s been playing less like the mythical Beno Udrih that captains our offense smoothly and expertly, and more like the actual Beno Udrih that has a wicked mid-range game and generally passes pretty well. I don’t know that we can ever expect much more than that out of him. Beno Udrih will never be Chris Paul or Deron Williams. But Tyreke Evans just might be. What makes a great lead guard in this league? I think it’s a player who can A) get wherever he wants to on the floor and disrupt the opponent’s defense and B) make good decisions with the ball, either with his own shot or getting a good shot for a teammate. Tyreke has the first part down, in spades, and to my eyes his decision-making is usually not all that bad and is improving.
If he’s not doing a good enough job of getting into the offense early, work on it in practice. If he’s having a hard time getting the ball to his teammates in the spots they want, address it as a team and find ways to help. If he’s having trouble deciding when to call his own number and when to look for the other guys, help him work through it. It’s not like any of those are things that can’t be improved. Don’t just take the ball out of his hands. If this team is going to be great again sooner rather than later, it is probably going to be with the offense in ‘Reke’s hands (unless, of course, we land the next John Wall in the draft or have a shot at an established star via trade).
Personally, I would like to see what we could do with Cisco starting in the backcourt with Tyreke. On paper, it’s a great pairing. Of course, the game isn’t played on paper, and Cisco has a well-earned reputation for screwing things up every now and again, but I don’t see the harm in giving it a go at this point. And not just for one game, and then re-evaluate. Change the starting backcourt, put the offense fully in ‘Reke’s hands, bring Beno’s offense off the bench, and let the guys grow into their roles. If not Cisco, I wouldn’t mind seeing what Head could do starting in the backcourt with ‘Reke. Obviously, it’s not ideal starting a player of Head’s caliber, but at least he’d defend better than Beno, and maybe he’d even be more comfortable on the offensive end than he has been if he knows he’s not really being asked to be a scorer. Just help to keep the offense going if Evans is in trouble, take the open shot with confidence if the ball comes to you, and bust your ass on defense.
What say you, great minds of StR? Is benching Beno the answer? Or is there a better way to go? Just don’t suggest we stay the course. Our job is to be passionate, not patient. Our team needs our irrational ideas. Let’s hear them.