Sacramento is back up a few games over .500 after a pretty successful homestand and a good start to their road trip with a win in Minnesota. The Kings have won 3 of their last 4 but now face four of the West's toughest teams in a row to end the month.
1. Darren Collison
See Player of the Week
The Kings are finally getting respect from opponents and it's very refreshing. After the victory against Chicago, Joakim Noah had some very nice things to say about both the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins:
"They're a good team; they play hard at home," Joakim Noah said. "They're starting to build something. Defensively, they are better. DeMarcus (Cousins) is better. You can tell there's been a lot of growing on his side as a player. He is playing more efficiently. I feel sometimes he gets frustrated and that works in our favor. I feel this year, he's the one getting guys frustrated and it's worked for them."
3. DeMarcus Cousins continues to kill it
Boogie's bringing it on both ends of the court with an intensity that I love. He's taking as much pride in his defense as in his offense and it's winning games. In Saturday's game against the Timberwolves, Boogie was seen multiple times yelling at his team to get back on defense after a missed shot on offense. The Kings were struggling to break down the zone, but Boogie was determined that Minnesota wasn't going to respond either. Cousins is doing it all this year and it's the biggest reason for Sacramento's success.
4. Return of Thrilly D Williams
Derrick Williams has only played minimal minutes this year but he finally got another chance to come in against Chicago and he took advantage of it. Williams repeated with another solid effort against Minnesota. It's in both Sacramento's and Derrick's best interest that he become a contributor, and this week was a good start. Now let's see if he can keep it up.
Although he didn't play well in Minnesota, Omri is still playing really good basketball. He's attacking the rim with a passion and he's also rebounding and moving the ball well. Casspi is proving to be not just a glue guy but also a good 6th man.
6. Offense starting to click
The Kings are one of the worst three point shooting and passing teams in the league and yet here they are 13 games in with the 6th best offense in the league. That's largely because of the offensive prowess of Cousins, Gay and the Kings' ability to get to the line (1st in the league). It's a pleasant surprise after Sacramento made such an emphasis to improve the offense this summer.
1. Possible DISH blackout
I'm not going to take any sides here, but it really sucks for DISH customers that CSN might be blacked out because of a contractual dispute, especially with the Kings playing their best basketball in years.
2. Come on, Ramon
Ramon Sessions has struggled unlike anywhere else he's played as Sacramento's backup guard. He hasn't been able to score at a high enough rate to justify the defensive drop-off when he's on the court, and he's not setting guys up enough. He has just 20 assists to 16 turnovers on the season. His per 36 minute average of just 3.9 assists is well below his 6.5 career assist average. Perhaps one problem for Sessions is that he doesn't have many shooters surrounding him when he's primarily a drive and kick player. It's quite possible that Sessions is simply not a good fit, but Ray McCallum hasn't exactly shone this year either when he's been given the chance to play ahead of Ramon.
3. Can someone guard Ryan Anderson please?
The Kings completely fell apart in the 3rd quarter of a winnable game against the New Orleans Pelicans, and much of that had to with Sacramento native Ryan Anderson unleashing a torrent of threes in the third quarter. Anderson kept getting left completely wide open as Sacramento's defense broke down. The Pelicans outscored Sacramento 31-15 in that quarter in a game which the Kings lost by only six.
1. The Zone
Sacramento has been having trouble dealing with the zone all year, and even lowly Minnesota was able to execute it well enough to bother Sacramento. That first half against the Timberwolves might have been Sacramento's worst half of basketball since the home opener, and the only reason they were able to stay within striking distance was because Minnesota couldn't score either. The Kings only really started breaking things down when Ben McLemore started hitting his outside shots, but he's the only King who has really been able to hit a three with consistency. With Nik still figuring things out, this team could still really use some more shooting.
Player of the Week:
16.3 PPG, .467 FG%, .500 3P%, 10.0 AST, 3.3 REB, 0.7 STL, 1.7 TOV in 34.9 MPG
Collison has been fantastic for Sacramento and this week was even better as his shot is starting to come around and he also managed to dish out 30 assists to just 5 total turnovers. That's an assist to turnover ratio of 6 to 1, and for the season he's at a very good 7 to 2 ratio, better than every other Point Guard in the Top 10 in assists (Collison's 7th) except for Chris Paul. One of the things that I really like about Collison is that he doesn't try to force the issue very often. I've seen several instances this season where the Kings are on a fastbreak but the opponents get back quickly and instead of trying to score quickly against tough coverage, he resets the offense and runs a play instead. As Coach Malone said in his mic'd up segments on TNT, "way to run your team".
FanPost of the Week:
Images/GIFs of the Week:
We Are Fa-mi-ly
Basically the 2nd half for Cousins
Run Joakim Noah!! Run!!!
Comments of the Week:
Transplant with growing fandom checking in...
It is time to sing that familiar song: Winning cures all ills
Most important number tonight: 39. As in, the amount of minutes Boogie played. This needs to happen more frequently, obviously.
Highlight of the Week:
Last Week's Winner: Mr. Hashtag
Did Hollins tip the ball?
Last Week's Runner-Up: AnotherStupidSN
Kings guard Darren Collison slips a shiv between the ribs of Spurs guard Tony Parker, causing a turnover. Foul on Demarcus Cousins.
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 Prediction for Next Week:
11/25 at New Orleans L (The Pelicans match up really well with us and although the Kings definitely have a chance to win this one, I think the multitude of offensive weapons for New Orleans will overpower us.)
11/26 at Houston W (The Kings seem to have played really well against Houston the last couple years, and Cousins loves going at Dwight Howard. This is the second night of a back to back, but I think the team is going to be amped up and ready to win.)
11/28 at San Antonio L (Sacramento surprised a lot of people when they beat the Spurs last week, but in San Antonio is a whole other matter.)
11/30 vs. Memphis W (If the Kings aren't going to be fired up about this game after the .3 seconds debacle, I'd be very surprised. Memphis is still very tough and will take Sacramento's A-game to win.)
Nostradumbass Record for the Year: 7-6
Random Observations from around the league:
- We saw quite a few young players on opposing teams this week and I was really impressed with a few of them. I thought Jimmy Butler was fantastic, making shots that were really hard to make. He bet on himself this summer and it was definitely the right move because if he keeps this up he's going to get max money this summer. I also think Nikola Mirotic is going to be a really good player once he gets the NBA rhythm down. Anthony Davis is already a superstar, and he's just going to get even better which is scary. Minnesota also has a bunch of young talent, and I was impressed with some of the moves that Andrew Wiggins made against Rudy Gay. Once Wiggins starts hitting his outside shot with consistency, he's going to be really good.
- Cleveland is 5-7 and I don't think it's simply a "give them time to figure it out" issue. This is not a team that looks like they could win a playoff series, let alone a title. The biggest issue is the defense, where they're ranked 24th in the league. They're incredibly potent offensively, but they're not going to win anything if they can't make stops.
- Ban Conferences. The Western Conference has 10 teams above .500, including an entire division. The East has 5 teams, and they get to play each other most of the time. This conference imbalance has existed for almost 15 years now, and it doesn't seem like it's going to change any time soon.