With Mike Bibby and Ron Artest both out, I didn't think we'd need to break out the neon glow so early. Oh well.
John Salmons has played tremendous ball through seven games. Not just 'tremendous for John Salmons' -- tremendous. He's been good, very good. His shooting numbers are better than they'd ever been, his assist rate is good for a small forward, he hasn't turned it over too much, his defense has alternated between forgettable and solid. He has been wonderful this season.
He didn't pass the ball to Kevin Martin once last night. At one point in the second quarter, Salmons had the ball on the right side at the top of the key. Martin was hovering in the right corner. Salmons drove to 15 feet on the baseline while Martin's man slid down to challenge the shot. Martin was open. Salmons took a 15-foot fadeaway with two guys on him. Of course -- for sake of killing the impact of this example, surely -- he sunk it. But it was not the proper shot. Kevin Martin with an open 3 should be the call every single night.
Folks talk about how tired Martin has to be, how he needs for a night not to be the focus of the offense. Are you kidding me? You think he's going to stop running around helter skelter if he gets less than 15 shot attempts? The only way to keep Martin for running full tilt during a game is to keep him on a bench; he was cutting and rolling off screens a ton last night. He remains a one-man fast break, with his friends occasionally joining him in a downcourt trot. He works just as hard or harder on nights when he gets 12 FGAs as when he gets 21. And the benefits of Martin with the ball in his hands should be obvious -- he's an insanely efficient scorer, he doesn't turn the ball over frequently, he racks up the foul calls, he rarely misses so wildly a long rebound kicks off transition offense for the opponent. He is clearly the best option for this team. And Salmons didn't pass it to him once in the context of the offense. (He might have passed it to him once or twice; I admit I don't watch 24-point losses as closely as 7-point wins.)
Remember how I laughed when Beno Udrih was heralded as a pure point guard? Well, I watched the Minnesota game right before the Utah game started last night. It was actually wonderful, getting to see Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds slobber all over Beno's point guard skills... and then watch Beno's true self, taking 12 FGAs in 29 minutes while registering 2 assists and 5 turnovers. Seriously 4-12 FG, 1-4 3P... that sounds like another Sacramento Kings point guard we know! Welcome back, Mike Bibby. Improbably, you have returned to Earth as a small Slovenian man.
This team wouldn't beat Utah if Andrei Kirilenko were wearing a straightjacket and Carlos Boozer played in the traditional garb of an Eskimo. But when you AGAIN handcuff your prize weapon while letting guys like Beno Udrih jack up threes... you don't give yourself a chance. Boo Kings.