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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2010-11 Week 3

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The Greatest Weekly Recap in the history of Western Civilization.

This was not a good week.  0-2, including a loss at home to the butt of all our jokes, the Timberwolves (click this link).  I guess the joke is on us though, because right now, we're the ones in disarray, while the Timberwolves are moving on up.  So what went wrong this week? A little bit of everything, but mostly babies. Yes, Babies.  As in infants.  This isn't a metaphor for the Kings inexperience or anything.  I'm literally talking about babies.  But more on that later.

The Good:

1.  Omri Casspi

See Player of the Week

2.  Beno Udrih's Offensive Consistency

Beno is still the only King that has been consistent all year.  He's playing at essentially the same rate as last year, with the only thing he's struggling with is his three point shot (4-21 so far).  He's cut down on his turnovers though, which has been good, and his assists are slightly up.  His defense has been atrocious, but it never was any good to begin with.  I think we could have another career year of Beno on our hands once his three point shooting picks up (career 35.4% and that includes this years 19% performance so far). 

3.  Tyreke Evans' Passing

Tyreke's Passing has shown some much needed improvement to me this year.  He still looks to score most of the time, but there are clear moments when he does something with an intention to pass.  And its not just kickouts to open jumpers or three pointers anymore, Tyreke is finding his big men inside (cue High Tops scream of joy) as well as people at the three point line (usually Omri).  Check out his assists from the Minnesota game: 4 at the rim, 1 within 10 feet, 1 from 10-15 feet, none from 16-23 feet, and 3 from three.  That's 7 assists to the most efficient places for someone to score.  Against Phoenix he only had 2 from three, 1 within 10 feet, and 5 from three.  He also had a couple passes down low to Carl that he missed but was fouled on.  He's not Chris Paul or anything, but his court vision and knowledge of where to get the ball has certainly improved a bit.

4.  Carl Landry's Return to Life Against Phoenix

Carl Landry had a return to form on Friday, getting 20 points and 11 rebounds.  The key point here isn't that he got those statistics, its how he got them.  The Kings made a point of giving Landry the ball down low, and also giving him some space to operate in.  He's deadly down there.  At times Phoenix had three people on him, but his patience allows him to get it in the basket or a trip to the line regardless.  I really, really hope this is due to Westphal trying to bring Carl back to form and not simply because of matchup problems with Turkoglu/Warrick.  Because when Carl becomes a jump shooter, he hasn't been effective at all.

Carl last night got to the line 9 times, and was 6-7 at the rim.  He also took 3 shots within 10 feet, but most importantly, he only took 4 shots beyond that.  Carl has had 4 games already where he's taken 6 or 7 shots from 16-23 feet, the least efficient shot in basketball, and only 2 games where he's done the same at the rim.  Both of the times he got most of his shots at the rim, he had 20+ point, 11 rebound games.  The majority of rebounds in both those games were on the offensive glass, because he was in a position to get him.  Carl is fantastic on the offensive boards, and playing him down low gives him a greater chance to get them.  In those two games, he had 14 offensive boards.  In the six other games, he's had eight.  So keep staying down low Carl, its where you're most effective.

5. Samuel Dalembert's Defensive Acumen

Dalembert has been a breath of fresh air on the defensive end.  He's amazing at altering shots, and also does a good job securing defensive rebounds and preventing the other team from hitting the offensive glass.  But we can't fall into the bad habit of trying to rely solely on him as our backstop.  A few times so far this season (especially evident in the Phoenix game), we've had to have Dalembert come out and try to help against a penetrating guard, and he successfully causes a missed shot, but then another opposing player comes in and mops up, wasting his good effort.  Our team can't give up.

6.  Boogie Fever

DeMarcus put in some good minutes off the bench.  He's going down low more often, and getting to the line as well.  He hasn't had one game so far this season where he hasn't shot 4 FTA, and in 4 games, he's shot 6.  He's also a ridiculous 15-17 around the rim so far this season (88.3%), and a mere 25% everywhere else.  I don't have a problem with him shooting the occasional jumper, but when your that lethal down low, listen to Bill Walton, and just keep doing it every time.  It's a learning process for DeMarcus, but I'm loving the potential.  He's also been rebounding as of late, and there were at least two rebounds in the Phoenix game that he had no business getting, but he did anyway.  On defense, he's improving a bit in the man-to-man department, keeping his hands straight up, although he still has a LOT of work to do on team defense.  The refs have a really tight whistle around him too, and he's not getting the benefits of any calls right now.  Its unfortunate, but he'll learn.  And still... no technical fouls.

7.  Bill Walton

I didn't think I was going to, but I really enjoyed him when he was commentating.  He made several astute observations, and I look forward to the rest of the games he commentates on, where hopefully he'll get more than a quarter to talk.

8.  Joe Maloof is Classy

In one of the brighter moments this week, Joe Maloof gave Lieutenant Jeff Mennicke a chance to win a car by hitting a free throw instead of the usual half court shot.  The Lieutenant ended up hitting the shot and winning his car.  Great move by Joe on the day before Veteran's day.

The Bad:

1.  Babies

Feel free to ignore the rest of the Bad and the Ugly, because this was the crux of the Kings problems this week. Babies.  Two opposing players had babies born on game day this week.  One on the Timberwolves.  One on the Suns.  Who were they?  Michael Beasley (42 points on 17-31 shooting, 9 rebounds) and Steve Nash (28 points on 13-18 shooting, 14 assists to only 2 turnovers, and 7 rebounds).  So thanks a lot As of Yet Unnamed Beasley son and Matteo Joel Nash.  

2.  Francisco Garcia Had an Off Week

Cisco finally came back to Earth this week, failing to hit his shots in Minnesota, and failing to do much defensively against Phoenix.  Thats ok though, because he was playing out of his mind as of late, and it probably couldn't last.  I love Cisco's effort, especially defensively, and he never seems to give up on a play.

3.  Three Point Shooting

The Kings shot only 10-38 (26.1%) from three point range this week.  The biggest culprits of poor marksmanship this week were Cisco (2-8), Beno (2-7), and Tyreke (0-3).  Cisco and Beno are too good of shooters to keep up that kind of shooting percentage, so I'm not too worried about it.

4.  Samuel Dalembert's Offensive Acumen

I can see now why Sixers fans grew a tad frustrated with Samuel over the years.  Some of the decisions he makes on offense are mind boggling.  He's turning it over at an alarming rate as well.  His jump shot is pretty bad, and his lone offensive use is probably connecting on alley-oops with Tyreke (which was nice to see) or cleaning up on the offensive glass.  It's no surprise to me that our offense has been a lot less potent with Dalembert getting more and more minutes.  Opposing defenses don't have to play him at all, and they'll dare him to hit the jumper rather than give someone else a shot.  He's got the lowest Offensive Rating of any Kings player to have played significant minutes at 95.  That's 11.5 points lower than our teams Offensive Rating, so the Kings are basically 10 points better on offense when he's not playing.  I'm not saying we need to see less of Dalembert.  On the contrary (his defense and rebounding are too valuable), I think we need to do more of what we did in Minnesota with the alley-oops and make teams pay for sagging off of him.

5.  Darnell Jackson's Defensive Rebounding

Darnell has been really good on the offensive glass, but on the defensive glass, he's 6th on the team (5th if you take out Donté).  It's cost us a few second chance buckets.  I love his effort, but he needs to hit the glass harder if he wants to warrant a rotation spot over Jason Thompson in my opinion.

6.  I Would be Fine with Antoine Wright Never Shooting Again

Westphal put Antoine Wright into the Phoenix game for about 10 minutes for defensive purposes.  This was a tad interesting to me, especially since the Kings ended up playing a zone for quite a bit of the time that Wright was in the game.  But when Wright shot the ball, it didn't go in, which, according to his career statistics, says was likely.  We need to surround Tyreke with shooters.  Donté Greene is a much better shooter than Antoine Wright.  Fréé Donté.  And not just for 4 minutes when he hasn't played in 4 games.  Give him a real chance for a few games.

7.  Westphal's Substitutions Against Phoenix

There were a couple key moments where Coach Westphal made a substitution I disagreed with in the Phoenix game.  The first was late in the 3rd Quarter when he brought Darnell Jackson into the game for Carl, just as Carl was starting to heat up and we were getting some momentum.  The gameflow shows that the Suns then were able to build the lead up again after the Kings had slowly chipped into it.  The second substitution was when the Kings finally went on a big run to start the 4th quarter, getting the game within three and sending Dalembert to the line to potentially make it a one point game.  Westphal subbed out Tyreke at this moment (a key reason we went on that run), right when Gentry subbed in Steve Nash and Jason Richardson.  Nash ended up going ballistic, and by the time Tyreke got back into the game, the Suns had built the lead back up from two to 12.  It also wasn't just that Westphal subbed out Tyreke, look who else was in the game while he was on the bench:  Beno, Cisco, Wright, Carl, Dalembert. Thats two guys right there the Suns don't have to worry about at all on offense.  Westphal then tried to answer that by putting Cousins in the game, but it was too late.  All the momentum was Phoenix's.  It was just a poor read of what the situation demanded in my opinion.

8.  Luther Head

Luther was a complete non-factor.  It wasn't really his fault either, he only played three minutes in each game, and he got screwed out of a three because of an Omri traveling violation (Omri passed him the ball after a bunny hop for a three, which he made).

The Ugly:

1.  The Minnesota Game

There's nothing more to say.  If you watched it, you know what I mean.  If you didn't, you're probably feeling better about the Kings than the rest of us.

2.  Free Throws

Maybe we could, I don't know, hit them?  Against Minnesota, we were 20-32 in a 9 point loss.  Against Phoenix, 12-19.  As a team, we only have three players at or above their career rate:  Cisco, Beno and Head.  Those three are all shooting 83.3% or better.  Everyone else is shooting 74.3% (Tyreke) or less, with only DeMarcus joining Tyreke in the 70% range.  Carl has been the biggest disappointment from the line, shooting only 61.9%, despite a career average of around 80%.  Hopefully its just a slump, because his ability to get to the line and then convert is possibly his biggest strength.

3.  Jason Thompson DNP-CD

Against Phoenix, JT got the first DNP-CD of his career.  What is a bit maddening about it is that other than his shooting (an atrocious 37.1% so far), he's been better in several other categories, including rebounding and passing.  Still, I think a big part of JT's struggles so far have been that he simply doesn't know what he's supposed to do out there, and he's not really being put in a position to succeed either.  His best position might really be a center, but he's being asked to play the three a bit.  I'd probably rather see him get a DNP-CD than ever have to play the SF position ever again.  I'd also probably prefer to play him over Darnell Jackson.  At his best, JT has been more than good.

4.  Defense

Whose the worst defensive team in the league? We are! Yay!  Right now the Kings have a Defensive Rating of 112.2, worse than everyone.  Obviously this cannot continue.  We have not played in one game yet this season where our opponent has not gotten to a double digit lead.

5.  Offense

On the other side of things, we have only had one game where we have had a double digit lead (against Cleveland) and that was only for a minute or so.  The Kings take an absurdly long time to get into their set on offense, especially for a team so young that could be running other teams off the court.  I don't know how many times we don't start our offense until there is only one digit or less on the shotclock, but it usually ends with us having to rush up a shot at the end, and more often than not, not making it.  We need to up our pace and get into things quicker, because right now, we're an opposing defenses wet dream,  since we essentially wait for them to set up.

6.  Playing to our Strengths

This goes a little bit hand-in-hand with Offense.  DeMarcus and Carl are monsters down on the low block, but we don't get them the ball there nearly enough.  Against Phoenix, we were having great success whenever we put Carl or DeMarcus down low.  Together, they were a combined 9-10 around the rim, and they shot a combined 13 Free Throws.  Tyreke, famed penetrator, also hit 3-5 at the rim and shot 4 FTs.  Yet Phoenix, who lacks any single go-to option, outscored us in the paint.

HighTops says it better than I can:

But, our offense has been less than effective all season, and not being able to score more than 91 points in 3 straight games against opponent that include 2 of the worst defensive teams in the league, makes me believe that his is more than just a slump.

We shot at 75% at the rim and below 33% from every other range. Yet we took 45 attempts from long 2’s and 3’s, including 9 by our centers and pf’s. And, we only took 20 shots at the rim including 7 by our starting backcourt. Does anyone else see this as backwards besides me?

We had the advantage of size down low, but the Suns took the same amount of shots at the rim as we did and scored 2 more baskets. We had the opporunity to hammer the Suns down low, and instead we continued to be the Jumpshooting team that we’ve be for years now.

I have faith in God and America, but I haven’t any faith that the King even know how to run any kind of offense other than one that contains NO ball movement.


7.  DeMarcus Hit Squad

It came out this week that DeMarcus has had a few spats with coaches (Truck Robinson) and Conditioning Coach (Daniel Shapiro), and received a $5,000 fine for it.  Here's my take:  First of all, ESPN/their source can suck it.  This happened over a month ago, and they conveniently held onto the information until now, when the Kings have been struggling.  Good timing no?  Also, we knew what we were getting into with drafting DeMarcus.  Like Tyreke, he's an Alpha Dog.  But unlike Tyreke, he's not soft-spoken or quiet.  Right now the only problems I see coming from him on the court are poor decision making, and just general inexperience.  Nothing about his attitude to me, has affected him on the court.

Player of the Week:

Omri Casspi

14 PPG, .440 FG%, .375 3P%, 5.5 RPG, 2 APG

I had a tough time picking the player of the week.  I finally ended up choosing between Omri and Beno.  Beno put up better statistics, but his defense in both games was a big factor in us losing the game.  Letting Nash torch him is forgivable.  Letting Sebastian Telfair torch him is not.

So I picked Omri, who I think is showing a lot of growth as a player.  What has really been nice to see is Omri sharing the ball and taking good shots.  He's done a good job as of late of getting the ball on the inside as well.  On defense, I think he tries, but just doesn't have the experience yet.  We are expecting a lot from him for how young he is.

Check out this comparison of Omri's first two years to date and Peja's first two years.  Omri is shooting better from everywhere but the free throw line.  Omri has also rebounded much better, while Peja passed the ball better.  Stojakovic had the benefit of a really good team with really good players to grow up in, while Omri has essentially been thrown into the fire.  I have high hopes for Omri.

GIF of the Week:

Kings fans

Time to take out our frustrations on everything we can

like so:

Comment of the Week:

The Zillertect?

Highlight of the Week:

I love Sammy's reaction after the Block.

Caption Contest:

Link to Last Week's Picture

Last Week's Winner:  what_the_crap

"Mike Lamb is gone? So now it’s just Peaches for 3 hours a day???"

Last Week's Runner-Up: Sacto_J

Mike Conley’s making how much money…!?

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 be whistled for a loose ball foul.

Question of the Week:

And now, in a new segment I'm introducing, I'd like to ask you guys a question.  If you were the Coach of the Kings, what would your rotation be and how many minutes would you ideally give each player?

My Rotation:

C: Dalembert (24), Cousins (24)

PF: Landry (34), Thompson (14)

SF: Omri Casspi (28), Francisco Garcia (12), Donté Greene (8)

G1: Beno Udrih (34), Francisco Garcia (12)

G2: Tyreke Evans (38), Luther Head (10)

That's a 10 minute rotation that I think mixes the best of both worlds Offensively and Defensively.  Darnell got the short end of the straw in my book, because I think the only thing he has over JT when both are operating at their best is defense.  On the wing, I have Casspi getting the majority of the minutes there, with Donté and Cisco also manning the position at times.  All three of those players can hit the three.  I have Cisco playing some minutes at the three for potential Beno, Reke, Cisco lineups.  For my guards, I avoided using the terms SG and PG, because I feel that all four of those guys can play either position, and each of those players can play with the other as a backcourt partner.

Let's hear yours in the comments

And Nostradumbass Prediction for Next Week:

v. Detroit 11/14 W (This is where I'm putting my foot down.  Detroit is going to be a poor team in record, but they're also a team that will beat you with ease if you play with the kind of effort the Kings have lately.  Detroit has played a lot of good teams close.  But the Kings need a win, and they need a win now.  Defend the home court, take care of the Pistons, get on the right track.  I think the Pistons are going to give us a run for our money, but I hope the rest of the Kings feel like Omri does... that this a must-win)

v. New York 11/17 W (This is where I'm hoping things begin to turn around.  This will be like playing against Phoenix, except at home, and with Amar'e only instead of Nash, which fits our strength more.  New York is also incredibly soft inside, so we need to go down low a lot more.  We should own the rebounding battle, and New York doesn't really have anyone to guard Tyreke either.  I'm not expecting anything, but we still haven't been able to control a game from start to finish.  This would be a nice one to do so.)

v. New Jersey 11/21 W (This is our revenge game.  We should've beat New Jersey the first time, but we couldn't get anything going for long stretches, and we fouled Lopez way too much.  Dalembert only played 6 minutes against Lopez that game and had two blocks.  He'll be starting this time so we should be in less foul trouble and Lopez shouldn't have as big a game.  This is another game we'll need to carry momentum against the red hot Hornets on Sunday)

Nostradumbass Record for the Season 3 - 5 (Woo-hoo! On par with the Kings... sigh)