"Stare into my eyes... and meet your doom!" - John Salmons, probably.
One almost win, and two actual wins. For these Sacramento Kings, that's a phenomenal week, and hopefully there are more weeks like this in our future.
1. John Salmons Finally Joining the Party
See Player of the Week
2. Marcus Thornton Returns
Marcus finally returned to the Kings against Portland and it wasn't a moment too soon. He didn't have the best shooting night, but he did get to the line a bunch and he ended up leading the team in scoring with 20 points. He started off slow again from the field against Golden State, but he went into Beast Mode in the 3rd quarter, when he poured in 18 points on 8 shots. He finished with a game-high 28 points. Having Marcus back really helps our offense, and I don't think it's a coincidence that we are now 6-6 in the games he's played this season.
3. Jason Thompson
Three Games, three double-doubles for Jason this week. He's continuing to be incredibly efficient around the basket, thanks in part to the development of his left hand. He also has shown growing signs as a defender, although he did have trouble with LaMarcus Aldridge, but who doesn't? At this point, I kind of wish the Kings had extended him.
4. DeMarcus Cousins, Double-Double Machine
DeMarcus has been the most consistent player for the Kings this year, and it could be argued that he's also been the Kings best player. He was a force of nature against the smaller Warriors team, and while he only played 15 minutes against Portland due to foul trouble, he still managed 8 points and 6 rebounds. DeMarcus is one of only 11 players in the NBA averaging a double-double, and he's the youngest player on that list while also playing the fewest minutes per game. He's also on pace to be the first game since Brad Miller in the 2003-04 season to average a double-double. All at the age of 21 years old. His growth has been remarkable, and there is still much more to come.
5. Tyreke Evans, Point Guard
Tom mentioned earlier this week that Tyreke has become a much better facilitator under Keith Smart. The stats prove it, and just watching him on the court proves it. He's doing a much better job of keeping his head up and looking for the open man, particularly right at the rim after he's attacked the basket and had the defense collapse. He averaged 7.6 assists per game this week, and that seems to becoming more the norm. Progress is being shown at last, and I think a large part of that credit has to go to Keith Smart.
6. Second Half Defense Against the Blazers
Sacramento won this game with it's defense. In the 3rd quarter, they held Portland to just 13 points, and they managed to outscore them in the 4th as well. Portland also only scored 36 points in the paint.
7. Overtime Dominance Against Golden State
The Kings almost crapped this game away in regulation when the Warriors bench again made a big run. Fortunately they maintained their composure in Overtime and put their foot on the Warriors necks by going on a 9-0 run to start the extra period. Golden State only scored 4 points in the quarter, and 2 of those were on a meaningless Monta Ellis jumper when the game had been decided.
8. Mr. Irrelevant Has Become Oh So Relevant
Isaiah Thomas has far surpassed most of our expectations. He's only a rookie, but he plays with the confidence and demeanor of a veteran. That doesn't necessarily mean he plays like a veteran, because he still makes quite a few mistakes, as most rookies will. But for each mistake there is an exhilarating play like the huge block on Wesley Matthews, or his 11 points in 3 minutes to give the Kings a chance on Tuesday.
The Kings haven't had too much of a problem with turnovers overall this season, but this week was particularly bad. Turnovers cost the Kings the game against the Warriors, and they almost cost them the other two games. Sacramento is playing at a faster pace, and is moving the ball, so an increase in turnovers is to be expected. But the team needs to cut down on the ones that are unforced, which is part of the growing process of a young team.
2. Jimmer FreDNP-CD
Marcus Thornton's return did put a damper on Jimmer's playing time, or more precisely, taking away Jimmer's playing time completely. It's kind of strange considering that he had been starting in Marcus' place and had finally started to play well, at least offensively. It's true he did not have a good game against the Warriors on Tuesday, but I don't think he should have been kicked out of the rotation completely. A large reason for him not playing is the fact that Isaiah Thomas has been playing well, and the fact that Keith Smart likes to play a tight rotation with the main guys playing big minutes. However, our bench has been terrible, particularly in the past two games, and we could use a scorer like Jimmer off the bench. I hope he works his way back into the main rotation at some point, although I'm not sure when that might be.
3. Bench Bigs
Chuck Hayes and J.J. Hickson are the Kings options off the bench. Each come with their own liabilities. Hayes at least provides solid defense (as he did against LaMarcus Aldridge) but he can't be relied on to score the ball at all, making him a bit of an offensive liability. I think a bit of this with Hayes is conditioning, but he's never been a reliable offensive option, although he improved in Houston. J.J. Hickson however, has just been flat out terrible on both ends of the court aside from his rebounding. The Hickson-Casspi/Pick trade is looking worse and worse all the time, and J.J.'s greatest value to the Kings probably lies in whatever trade value he might have.
1. 4th Quarter Collapse Against the Warriors
Sacramento should have won this game, but Golden State's bench came in the 4th quarter and simply took over. Brandon Rush was the catalyst, scoring 20 points in 24 minutes off the bench, and hitting a bunch of threes. By the time the Kings responded with their own run, it was too late.
2. Jimmer Jockeys and Jimmer Bashers
The extremists on both sides of the Jimmer spectrum are routinely awful. SavageBeast sums it up perfectly:
Lots of people complain about the Jimmer jockeys, and I can't totally blame them. But people like you, who have only one message, trade Jimmer, he sucks (okay make that too.) Are just as bad. Lately you've at least changed your message to trade him because he is a good player. But it seriously is old and tired. We are not going to trade Jimmer in his first year anymore than we traded any of our other rookies in their first year.
Relax and let the season play out. This applies to both sides-Jimmer fans and foes. If he is as good as you think he will play into more minutes. If he is bad as you think he will play out of the rotation. It's not like we have a fixed set of players that are consistently getting us wins. We won't know whether Jimmer is a bust or an important part of the team until things begin to stabilize a little.
My two cents is that he is pretty much where most people in the middle expected him to be.
3. Travis Outlaw, Rotation Player?
One of the more puzzling moves this week was the fact that Travis Outlaw of all people has earned a spot in Keith Smart's rotation. Outlaw hasn't done anything consistently well all season, and these past two games aren't any different. I would much rather have Greene or Garcia playing, particularly because Greene at least has been rebounding well this year, and Garcia is the best shooter of all three.
Player of the Week:
13.7 PPG, .500 FG%, .600 3P%, 4.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.7 STL
It's time to give John Salmons his due. His statistics for the week aren't the best, but that isn't why he's the player of the week. He is player of the week because he was crucial to victory in two of the Kings wins, and he was a big part in why the Kings almost won the other game. He is finally playing like the player that even doubters like myself had hoped he could be. His historically bad shooting slump seems to be over, as he's been our most reliable outside shooter of late. His defense has also been quite remarkable. In two games against the Warriors this week, he was responsible for guarding Monta Ellis, one of the league's premier scorers. In those two games, Ellis combined for 30 points on 34 shots and was a non-factor down the stretch of both games. Against Portland, he guarded Gerald Wallace, and while Wallace did shoot well, he only scored 8 points and didn't dominate us like he had in the previous two matchups. John played a big part in that. If this is the John Salmons we see for the rest of the season, we aren't in as bad of shape at the SF position as we had previously though.
Image / GIF of the Week:
Because I have the perfect one:
Comments of the Week:
There were too many good comments this week to just have one.
(In Response to the Mayor unveiling his plan to have fans buy bricks for the arena)
Jimmer Croquettes: They're so-so, but everyone at the party raves about them.
Ground Chuck, Shoulder Cut: Tasty, but it keeps popping off the plate. This dish has been approved by the Kings medical staff...twice!
Salmons Puffs: Takes 24 seconds to eat, induces excessive dribbling.
Tyreke Tips: NaAppetizer, NaEntree, NaDessert - No one knows exactly what it is.
DeMarcus Poppers: Packed with attitude, best when dipped in Smart sauce (avoid the Westphal dip at all costs).
IT Tenders: For the kiddies.
MT23 Snickerdoodles: You just can't pass on these - you just can't pass!
(In response to this picture)
(In response to Hassan Whiteside being recalled from the D-League)
FanPost of the Week:
Lookin' UP! by zzsjolt - Optimism is fun.
Highlight of the Week:
"Yeah, smells like you stepped in some Kings game..."
Last Week's Runner-Up: Caljin
In his new life as a cameraman, Grizzly Adams rarely anymore gets the thrill of a beast in close proximity.
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 gets to play Travis Outlaw in a game of one-on-one for Outlaw's spot on the roster.
Question of the Week:
Non-Basketball Question since today is the Super Bowl. Who do you think will win? Who do you want to win? Do you even care?
Personally, I have no rooting interest in either team or any NFL team for that matter. I do enjoy a good game of football though so I hope it's a close one.
And Nostradumbass Prediction for Next Week:
@ New Orleans 2/6 W (The one game all year where we actually blew a team out was against New Orleans, and this was after the Cousins-Westphal incident, meaning DeMarcus sat. With DeMarcus, we're even better. I don't foresee this being a blowout, but I do see a Kings win.)
@ Minnesota 2/7 W (Last time we played, we didn't have Chuck Hayes or Marcus Thornton and could have used them both. On the other side, Michael Beasley and J.J. Barea are back for the Timberwolves. This will be another close one, but I think the result will go the Kings way this time.)
v. Oklahoma City 2/9 L (This game will be a sellout, and energy will be high for the National TV appearance. In the past couple of seasons that the Kings have been on national TV, they have put up memorable performances, including a game-winning steal by Tyreke Evans on Gilbert Arenas in his rookie year, to a blowout of Denver last year. However, this year's Oklahoma City team is the best in the league, and they feature a player in Kevin Durant that I have no faith in anyone on this team being able to guard. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins provide some intimidation in the middle and James Harden and Russell Westbrook are two of the best young guards in the league. I hope the Kings win this game, but I really don't expect them to.)
v. Phoenix 2/11 W (Steve Nash is still Steve Nash, and Marcin Gortat is one of the better Centers in the league. Aside from that though, the Kings are probably a better team, and should win on their homecourt.)
Nostradumbass Record for the Season: 16-7