I know it is just preseason, but damn it still felt really good watching Kings basketball tonight. And it was Kings basketball alright, alternating between frustrating and exciting at a moment's notice.
The Kings lost this game by getting absolutely dominated inside by the Warriors. Without DeMarcus Cousins and Chuck Hayes, the majority of the big man minutes were played by Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson. Hassan Whiteside also got some run. Especially in the first half, the defensive effort and lack of aggression on the boards was disconcerting. Nobody was boxing out, and the Warriors were getting a bunch of 2nd chances (they had 14 offensive boards to our 4). Overall our big men were very underwhelming, although they stepped it up a little in the 2nd half.
The team was also rather terrible defensively, especially in the first half. Golden State was able to get wherever they wanted on the floor, and they were racking up the points in the paint, which is where they did most of their damage. We have some good individual defenders, but our team defense stinks, and you see guys get lost or mixed up on switches often, and the Warriors took advantage of those openings. It sure didn't help we were missing our two best defenders in Hayes and Salmons.
Our guards were a bright spot. Tyreke looks more like his old self again, getting to the rim and line at will, and he also did a decent job distributing the ball tonight, finishing with 7 assists. Unfortunately, he did also have 5 turnovers, and his jumper still looks like it needs more improvement. There were also some issues with clock management and decision making on fastbreaks, particularly in getting called for charging fouls.
Marcus Thornton gunned a little bit too much at times tonight, but he still looked just like the Marcus Thornton we saw last year. That wasn't a fluke.
Jimmer Fredette was awesome in his debut. 21 points on just 11 shots, including 4-6 from long range. Bizarrely he also only went 3-6 from the FT line (he was an 89% FT shooter in college). He was using screens well to get open and hit a couple tough shots too that left me shaking my head. He took good care of the ball (only 1 turnover) and was finding his teammates as well (4 assists). There were a few times in the 2nd half where he got wide open and Tyreke or Marcus had the ball and they didn't see him or didn't pass. It almost felt like watching Peja get ignored by Bibby again.
Defensively, Jimmer obviously had some issues, but the whole team pretty much stunk on D. I actually thought Jimmer had a few really good contests and closeouts, but his problems lie in guys getting past him, as Klay Thompson and Curry did a few times.
Isaiah Thomas was solid, and I loved seeing the effort he put on D, particularly the one time where he came out of nowhere to break up a 3 on 1. His size was an issue at times, especially attacking the basket, but he showed off a smooth jumper and ran the offense well.
The whole team did a good job at hitting their threes, and a special shoutout goes to Donté for hitting 3-5. If he can hit that three point shot consistently, as well as focusing on his defense, he could be a valuable rotation player. He'll have competition for that backup SF spot now from the newly acquired Travis Outlaw as well as Cisco.
Overall it was pretty much what you expected from a pre-season game, and I'm surprised it wasn't even more sloppy considering the mere one week of training camp. I'm looking forward to Tuesday and hopeful improvements.