The Kings + Road - Chicago = Winning.
4-1 road trips feel good and so do win streaks. It's a lot easier to write a weekly recap when you have a lot of positive things to write about. Of course we have negative things as well, but why shouldn't we appreciate the good while we can?
1. Sammy's Gonna Sam
See Player of the Week
2. Tyreke's Back!
After 19 games out with Plantar Fasciitis, we finally got our RoY back, and pain free too. Tyreke is definitely not back in form however, which is understandable, but he still has made an impact in both the games he has been, especially defensively. I always felt that this was the area we missed Tyreke the most in, as he is by far our best perimeter defender. Anyways, its good to have him back and hopefully that pesky Plantar Fasciitis is taken care of for good.
3. Marcus Thornton, Dell Demps & Monty Williams
What more can I say about Marcus Thornton? In brighter days without talk of relocation, there would probably be soliloquy's dedicated to him in the fanposts, children named in his honor,
Mike lambs sacrificed to appease him. Marcus has brought us so much joy already in his short time here. It baffles me how New Orleans could have let him go for a song. That's not even fully true; They PAID us to take him. This is a team that features Marco Bellineli, Willie Green and Jarret Jack as the other options at SG. You're telling me they couldn't figure out a way to use him? Whatever the reason he fell out of favor in New Orleans, I am glad, for now he is with us. If only Dell Demps and Monty Williams had a spare arena they could pay us to take off their hands.
4. Doratio Kane
Donté has been put higher in the SF pecking order lately and he has produced. He took advantage of an opportunity in a blowout against Minnesota and hasn't let up since. Do you know what the difference between Good Donté and Bad Donté was? Three point shooting. I've been saying it all year; The Kings need their SF to hit their open threes. Donté was suffering from severe regression in his shooting stroke from range all year, until this week. This week he played his same tough defense, but shot very well, hitting 8 of 17 from downtown (47.1%). If he can keep that up, there is no way he's leaving the rotation any time soon. Hopefully he learns that and knows what to spend his offseason doing.
5. JT's Defense
Coach Westphal mentioned in the Sixers Post-Game Press Conference that JT has come the farthest in understanding how to play team defense, and I think it shows. JT has been utilizing his athletic gifts and frame much better to fill holes and to rotate quickly. Not only has his defense been good, but he's also continuing to rebound at a high rate, and has helped offensively in the last couple games as well. Defense needs to be JT's forte, and its heartening to see him coming along in this area.
6. The Road
No, not the book that is now a feature film adaptation, but the actual road trip. The Kings went 4-1! That's about as unlikely as both Butler and VCU making it to the Final Four. Heck, if you had given me odds on both happening I probably would've picked Butler and VCU over the Kings going 4-1 (even though Nostradumbass predicted THAT EXACT THING HAPPENING). Also, the Kings now have 11 wins on the road to 9 at home. If this trend continues, this would mark the first time the Kings franchise had a better road than home record since the 1968-69 Cincinnati Royals had 16 road wins to 15 home wins (as well as 10 neutral wins back when games were played in neutral territory along with at home)
7. Beno Draino
Beno played in all 5 games this week, and in none of the games did he shoot below 50%. He's now shooting 49.7% on the season. How many guards that mostly shoot stop-and-pop jumpers do you see do that? The only point guards who shoot a higher percentage from the floor are Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Ty Lawson. It's not just the shooting though. Beno grabbed about 5 rebounds and dished at least 5 assists each game on the road trip with only 9 turnovers in 5 games. If only his defense weren't so bad.
The Kings grabbed a combined 241 rebounds to just 185 for opponents on the road trip. That averages out to about an 11 rebound differential in the Kings advantage each game. That's a huge plus, and with the Kings size, something that probably should be expected and not simply hoped for.
I can't be the only one who thought that in his limited minutes this week, D-Block was fantastic? He shot a combined 8-11 from the field, 1-1 from three, and 8-10 from the FT line (that's 25 points) to go with 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 35 minutes. Not bad.
10. Luther Head Hate
Last week I called some people out for the rampant Luther Head hate. Well after the Kings waived him we went 4-1. Carry on then.
1. 40 Point Loss to Chicago
This should probably be down in the Ugly right? I'd agree with you if the Kings didn't then bounce back to win their next three games. Some nights you have it and some you don't. Chicago happens to be a really good team who had it on a night the Kings didn't. That's not a good combination and the Bulls took care of business. There was probably the added factor of the 35 point comeback in many of the Bulls minds and they were having none of that this year. What else is there to say about this loss other than that the Bulls played much, much better?
2. Omri Casspi out of the Rotation
Sports is a numbers game. You can't play everyone. Both Donté and Omri have been given many chances to take advantage and seize their rotation spot for good, but neither have. So Paul Westphal has gone back to Donté and for now it seems to be working as he is playing his best basketball of the season. With Cisco back and healthy, this leaves Omri out for now. All I have to say to Omri is to be ready for when the time comes that you get another opportunity. You have to make it so the coach doesn't want to take you out because he can't afford to. Knowing Omri, I think he'll work incredibly hard this offseason and come back a much better player. But we'll see.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, Turnover Machine
BenchBlob had a good fanpost up on this the other day. The fact remains that DeMarcus is incredibly turnover prone. Its not just because he's being asked to take such a huge part in the offense either. He truly makes some awful decisions sometimes. Most egregious are the times when he gets the ball in the backcourt and doesn't get the ball to his guard, instead trying to play the distributor himself. This either ends in a nifty pass for a bucket (about 5% of the time) or a turnover (about 95% of the time). Then there are the various travelling violations and offensive fouls when he tries to do too much or get too fancy on offense. Hopefully this goes aways as he matures in a few years. But if it doesn't, and it becomes a trend, that is a problem.
4. Francisco Garcia Had a Bad Week
There are times when Francisco playing the SF gets its weaknesses exposed. Namely when he's either having a bad shooting performance (something that happened a few times last week) or when he's playing against a bigger, tougher SF (like Beasley, Deng, Delfino, Granger and Iguodala for example). Flaco can play the SF in spurts, but probably shouldn't be relied to play it a lot. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tyreke maybe take his spot at SF in the starting lineup when Coach Westphal feels Tyreke is ready for more minutes and experiment a little with a Beno-Thornton-Tyreke lineup. In fact that might be the best possible solution that gives Beno-Thornton-Reke the minutes they deserve without having one of them on the bench.
1. The Alternative "Plan"
Earlier this week it looked like we had a new glimmer of hope. FOX40's Jim Crandell had a source that said an alternative plan with money in place was being made ready to be presented to the Maloofs. Naturally we got all excited wondering what it could be. Our intrigue grew when we found out that Rann Haight and Greg Van Dusen were involved, as they were involved with bringing the Kings to Sacramento in the first place and helped build and construct ARCO II. But the plan was presented as mainly a renovation plan while another arena was built, and no money was in place, and the Maloofs soundly rejected it.
2. Anaheim is Preparing to Spend $75 million to Get the Kings
The Anaheim City Council is getting ready to vote on $75 million in spending ($50 million to the Maloofs for relocation costs, $25 million to fund Arena upgrades) to bring the Kings to the O.C. They even moved up the date from April 12th to this Tuesday, March 29th. The city even has a lease ready to be signed. All signs point to Anaheim (probably unanimously) approving these bonds. Meanwhile our elected officials seem too busy covering their ass than trying to figure out a way to prevent this from happening. NOTE: I'm not blaming the city alone if the Kings leave. The Maloofs deserve a large share of the blame themselves. Both are at fault in my mind, to varying degrees perhaps, but still at fault.
3. R.E. Graswich Presumes to Speak For Us
R.E. Graswich recently talked to the New York Times about the potential relocation. He responded thus:
"Right now the mood is good riddance, although I’m not sure it has sunk in," said R.E. Graswich, a top aide to Mayor Johnson and a former Sacramento Bee journalist who covered the Kings for seven years.
"We’ve grown up as a sports town," Graswich said. "We’re not going to back any crummy product they put on the floor. We’ve got bigger problems —12.5 percent unemployment, people being laid off or furloughed, their homes in foreclosure. The Kings would be a nice distraction if they were any good, but they’re not."
First off, who are you to talk for the city of Sacramento? Have you not heard of the efforts of the Here We Stay group? Of Sac Deflated putting up billboards? Sacramento LOVES THIS TEAM. Second, the Kings have been a nice distraction for many of us despite being an admittedly terrible team these past few years. I won't talk for anyone else, but these last few years have been some of the toughest in my life. This team has been a wonderful distraction, allowing me to forget, if only momentarily, the burdens of the real word that you mention. This team has allowed me to connect with my father and my brother, something we can always talk about, in times good or bad. So screw you R.E. Don't lump me into your world view. Bad or good, this is my team. This is our team. And we want it to stay that way forever.
I'd like to take this time to ask all of you to join me April 11th at Power Balance Pavilion as OUR Kings take on the Thunder. Let's show blowhards like Graswich how we really feel. Let's show the world that Sacramento might be cut, might be bleeding, but we're not down and out yet. We've still got fight in us.
Player of the Week:
15 PPG, .517 FG%, 13 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.2 BLK, 1 STL
Sammy has been wonderful as of late. Andy pointed out to me on twitter that I do tend to be a bit vocal when Sammy does things that I don't approve of. So I feel its time to give Sammy his due and clear up the air. I do not hate Sammy. I just hate the things he does sometimes, which almost exclusively involve him trying to do too much on offense. But overall, taking everything into context, Sammy has been one of our most consistent and productive players all year. Per 36 minutes, he's averaging a 12/12 double-double on 48% shooting to go with about 2 blocks. When have we ever had a center who could do that? This week, during our 4-1 road trip? He had double-doubles in each of our victories, and rebounding totals of 17 and 19 against the Timberwolves and Sixers respectively. On defense, even when he doesn't get blocks, his size and length alter shots consistently. He's a presence that can't be ignored. If the Kings don't resign him, I have to say I'll be a bit disappointed. I've really liked the way he and DeMarcus have begun to gel, and this was especially evident during the Pacers game this week.
Image / GIF of the Week:
Comment of the Week: (To someone telling Kings Fans its time to move on and accept the fact they're gone)
Highlight of the Week (I couldn't pick just one this week. Here's three):
Last Week's Winner: section214
Last Week's Runner-Up: Exhibit G
Last Week's Vfettke Would Almost Always Win if Photoshop Was Allowed Winner: vfettke
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 all the money Greg Van Dusen and Rann Haight had lined up! Oh wait...
Lottery Projection and Profile of the Week:
Current Projected Lottery Position: 5th (Jumped from 2nd to 5th in one week!)
Current Lottery Range: 3rd-6th
Draft Profile: Harrison Barnes, SF, 6'8, 210 lbs, Freshman, UNC
Coming into this year, Barnes was thought to be the consensus #1 pick by many scouts and fans. But this is why we actually watch these guys play a full year of basketball before proclaiming their worth.
Barnes, while very talented, is most likely not worth one of the top few picks in the draft. His offensive game mostly consists of pull-up jumpers or jumpers off the dribble; He rarely attacks the basket, and as such draws very few FTA per game. Shooting jumpers does not bode well for your efficiency either. Still he's gotten better in this area as the season has progressed and has hit some huge shots for UNC throughout the season.
Defensively is where Barnes has really shined though. His physical gifts help him in the regard, but all the physcial gifts in the world won't help you if you don't put in the effort. Luckily, he does and he has done a great job on the defensive end for UNC this year, acting as their designated wing stopper for much of the season.
Barnes upside tends to side on whether or not he diversifies his offensive game and becomes consistent on that end while maintaining his defensive intensity. At his highest, I see similarities to Rudy Gay or even Tracy McGrady (although Barnes is nowhere near the ballhandler or athlete McGrady was). If he stays as he is however, expect many comparisons to Marvin Williams. Many.
Next Week's Profile: Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight (Since we're getting near the end of the season I'm going to double the Draft Profiles)
Question of the Week:
Have you been watching the March Madness Tourney? Who has or hasn't impressed you? What's been your favorite moment? Who do you have to win it all?
Personally I've been thrilled watching VCU make it all the way to the Final Four after only barely getting into the tournament thanks to the new 68 team field. A lot of people criticized the NCAA for instituting that, but without it, VCU wouldn't have had a chance to become this Cinderella story. There's also the fact that Butler made it back into the Final Four and have a chance to get back in the title game as well. That being said, I am going to stick with my original bracket pick of UConn winning it all.
Individually Derrick Williams of Arizona probably impressed me the most. I had only caught bits and pieces of him throughout the year, but he really seemed to step up in the tournament when it counted.
And Nostradumbass Prediction for Next Week:
Right now Nostradumbass doesn't care about the lottery. So no hoping for losses. Here's hoping the Kings match or surpass last year's record of 25 wins. They'll need 5 wins in 11 tries to match and 6 to surpass. That's unlikely, but hey, so was a 4-1 road trip.
v. Phoenix 3/29 W (We dominate Phoenix on the interior. We need to take advantage of this and we might be able to win this season series for the first time in a while!)
@ Denver 3/30 L (Denver is a different beast now, and they seem to work well without the black hole that was Carmelo Anthony.)
v. Denver 4/1 W (We're going to want revenge and we'll be ready for them this time and used to how they play without Carmelo as it'll be fresh in our mind. I think that's been a big reason for Denver's success since the trade; Teams don't know how to handle them with their being no one focus on offense and the ball moving a lot more)
Nostradumbass Record for the Season 34 - 37 (Nostradumbass predicted the exact 4-1 on this road trip. WHAT NOW HATERS?!?! SO WHAT IF I'M STILL UNDER .500.)