1. James Johnson
See Player of the Week
2. Kings bring it to the Blazers
This was another solid team effort by the Kings. Getting down 10 early, no Cousins, no Evans. But the team fought back and played hard, most importantly sharing the ball and taking good shots. Sacramento had a season high 31 assists and shot 55.6% from the field as a result. Travis Outlaw had another awesome game against his former team to boot.
3. Ball movement
Sacramento's ball movement this last week was absolutely awesome. They had their three highest assist totals of the season in each of the three games this week, with no game having less than 28 assists. They also kept turnovers to a minimum, with a high of just 14 in their loss to Portland. They finished the week with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.49:1, a great number. Good ball movement leads to better basketball and more fun basketball. It's good to see the guys buying in lately. It hasn't just been one guy carrying the load, it's been everyone.
4. Isaiah Thomas is the starting PG again
An interesting change was made Friday with Isaiah Thomas being reinserted into the starting lineup. Fans/Media have been calling for either Thomas or Fredette to start over Brooks for some time now and it was nice to see it finally happen. According to Coach Smart, the lineup change was largely due to DeMarcus Cousins' return. He wanted someone running the offense who was more strong-willed and who Cousins would be more inclined to listen to. Whatever the case, I'm glad Isaiah is back starting.
5. Brooks and Jimmer nailing shots and making plays
Aaron Brooks definitely did not get benched because of poor play or anything, at least not this week. The guy can hit shots, I'll give him that. In a bench role, I could grow to really like Aaron Brooks. The same goes for Jimmer Fredette, who has continued his amazing improvement week after week. Jimmer should be a frontrunner for Most Improved Player of the year. He's producing more in almost five less minutes a game. He should be seeing more time than he is.
6. Tighter rotation
Smart seems to be going with a tighter rotation as of late. Against the Knicks, He played just 9 guys significant minutes, with Chuck Hayes, the 10th guy, playing just 3:33. Rookie Thomas Robinson didn't play at all. And that's ok. You don't HAVE to play everyone if you don't need to. With Tyreke Evans coming back on Sunday though, I wonder how this will change the current rotations and who will be left out.
7. Outside shooting
The Kings were red hot from outside this week, going 33 of 73 (45.2%) from downtown. Isaiah Thomas led with 7 makes, and Aaron Brooks and John Salmons had 6 each. For all the grief we give the Kings about needing more outside shooters, as of now the Kings have three players shooting 40% or better from three (Cisco, Brooks and Jimmer) and two more above 35% (Isaiah and Salmons). Marcus Thornton is just under 35% himself. Last season no Kings shot 40%, and only Isaiah and Jimmer shot above 35%.
1. Blazers bring it right back to the Kings
The follow-up performance in Portland was not nearly as good as in Sacramento. Portland came in looking to redeem themselves and the Kings seemed a bit hungover from the holidays. Shots weren't falling, rotations weren't happening
The Kings continue to get absolutely killed on the boards. Offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities are keeping other teams in games. A lot of this has to do with the Kings playing small most of the time, or being without DeMarcus Cousins, their only great rebounder. This is an area I'd look to shore up at some point, because it is a problem.
3. Boston Vultures
If I see another ESPN trade machine link from Celtics fans for DeMarcus Cousins, I might lose it.
1. DeMarcus Cousins Drama
What a week for DeMarcus Cousins.
- The team announces he's suspended indefinitely following his profane verbal altercation with Coach Keith Smart.
- It comes out that Cousins has separated from agent John Grieg and joined forces with Dan Fegan, a man who has a tenuous relationship with the Kings front office to say the least.
- After one game, Cousins is reinstated from suspension, but neither Smart or Petrie put their name on the press release or offer clarification.
- Smart tells Cousins not to travel with the team to Portland, showing that the reinstatement was in name only.
- Cousins handles his first media Q&A after the reinstatement extremely poorly.
- Cousins comes back on Friday against the Knicks.
Player of the Week:
10.3 PPG, .467 FG%, 4.7 RPG, 2.7 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.0 BLK, 1.0 Game Winning Threes
Well I never thought I'd be putting James Johnson as Player of the Week but here we are. Yes, this is heavily influenced by his game winner and season-best performance, but I also want to give credit where its due, especially since I've been one of his harshest critics. Johnson has shown a lot of improvement these past couple of weeks, both in his shot selection and the simple fact that he's hitting his outside shots. This work culminated in a huge game against the Knicks with a huge shot to seal the deal. While Johnson is still far from perfect, he's making strides, and that's good to see.
Image / GIF of the Week:
Comment of the Week:
I look at the Raiders. When AL Davis was still a good owner, the coaching was stable, the team drafted well, the players wanted to be there, games sold out. Everyone was happy. When he started screwing up, everything else fell apart along with it.
Lots of people are talking about firing Smart, firing Petrie, trading players. But as we all know, the pressure is all generated by instability at the top. When you have cheap owners with little long term vision you take stupid risks. You draft and trade for the short term, and when it doesn't work out, you blame someone else. GP is in a no win situation.
Smart is in an even worse situation. He has little to work with, no support from above, and the players know it. Why does no one want to take responsibility for bringing Cousins back after one game? Because it wasn't a basketball decision, it was a ticket sales decision. The owners care about one thing only at this point. Selling tickets. And right now, Cousins sells tickets. Shoot, they might actually like Cousins' blow ups because it will give people another reason to watch the games. Come for the basketball, stay for the train wreck.
And honestly, while I think Cousins is an immature bully, I blame at least some of his actions on the owners as well. Didn't he learn early on that he is more important than any coach? Do we really think he doesn't know how the team is rotting from the top down?
The Maloofs have totally screwed this team over, and if we as the fans can feel it, how much worse must it feel to the people on the inside?
FanPost of the Week:
If you haven't checked out djrick's FanPost about Sacramento Kings Anagrams, do so, it's good fun.
Highlight of the Week:
Last Week's Co-Winner #1: Bamboozled
Francisco Garcia trying to prove to Bill Walton that he won the genetic lottery
Last Week's Co-Winner #2: andy sims
It became apparent all too late that translation of the Hokey-Pokey into Spanish did not properly convey what it was all about.
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.
Nostradumbass of the Week:
Some dude named Aykis16 with 14 points.
And Nostradumbass Prediction for Next Week:
12/30 v. Boston L (I definitely think the Kings can beat Boston, but I think Boston is going to set their sights on this game as one to try to make a statement on considering their recent struggles.)
1/1 @ Detroit L (Of the three teams that I can think we can beat on the road trip, I think Detroit matches up the best with us)
1/2 @ Cleveland W (Cleveland will be without Anderson Varejao which theoretically should give the Kings a distinct advantage.
1/4 @ Toronto W (Kyle Lowry is back and the Raptors are playing much better without the injured Andrea Bargnani, but this is still a team I think the Kings match up well with and can beat)
1/5 @ Brooklyn L(Struggling or not, the Nets are just flat out better than the Kings)
Nostradumbass Record for the Season: 18-11