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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: 2014-15 Week 5

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings have lost three straight, but they still managed to get out of a tough November schedule with a winning record.  That's something Kings fans can look at with pride after years of bad teams and seasons without real hope.

The Good:

1. DeMarcus Cousins

See Player of the Week

2. The Continued Efficiency of Ben McLemore

As StR commenter 10KingsFan10 pointed out, Ben's getting close to achieving that vaunted 50/40/90 (FG%/3P%/FT%) mark.  He's currently at 47.3% from the field, 41.3% from three and 84.2% from the line.  Ben has scored in double digits the last 6 games and 11 of the last 13.  He hasn't quite gotten to the level of being a legitimate third option, but he's at least providing consistent production now and will continue to get better with more experience.

3. Shorthanded win in New Orleans

Without Rudy and Collison, you wouldn't expect the Kings to beat the Pelicans at home, especially after New Orleans beat a fully healthy Kings team in Sacramento the prior week.  It was a total team effort to give the Kings a good road win and guarantee a 2-2 record on the trip.

4. November is over!

Wow, what a tough month.  According to ESPN, the Kings had the toughest strength of schedule (as well as the most road games) and yet managed to get through the month with a winning record.  That was unfathomable just a month ago.  Now the Kings have a relative cupcake of a schedule in December that they will have to take advantage of before they face another brutal stretch in January.

5. Jason Thompson's defense

JT hasn't gotten enough credit this year for how well he's played on the defensive end.  He's drawing the opposing team's best big man each night and he's battling each and every possession.  He still hasn't figured out how to provide any consistent offense, but he's more than making up for it with his defensive effort.

6. Rudy Gay, leading man

Rudy Gay has played well in Sacramento and the big line of thinking as to why is that he's thrived in the secondary role rather than as the primary scorer.  Yet with DeMarcus Cousins out the last two games, Rudy provided great, efficient production as Sacramento's best player.  It wasn't enough to beat the Spurs or Grizzlies, but those losses were far from his fault.

7. Roleplayers step up

Without Rudy Gay, Omri was asked to start for two games and he filled in admirably, scoring 22 and 14 points respectively in those two starts.  He's continuing to score efficiently and provide relentless effort each night as one of Sacramento's few key bench contributors.

Ryan Hollins hasn't seen much time this season, and DeMarcus Cousins leaves big shoes to fill, but against the Spurs, Hollins had a good game, scoring 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting and grabbing 6 boards.

Reggie Evans had 6 straight DNP-CDs when he had his number called against the Memphis Grizzlies.  He responded with not only his best effort of the year, but perhaps his best effort in several years.  He was his usual aggressive self on the glass, scooping up 20 boards in 35 minutes and he even contributed offensively with 17 points.  Who knows if Evans will rejoin the rotation after this effort, but the one thing you can always say about Reggie Evans is that he'll be ready to give you 110% whenever you need him.

The Bad:

1. Where's Nik's shot?

It hasn't quite gotten "ugly" for me with Nik yet, but it's getting there.  Nik's shooting just 31.6% from the field and most of that is because of his inaccuracy from beyond the arc, where he's shooting just 24.3%.  The Kings drafted Nik to be a knockdown shooter and so far he's not knocking down any shots.  He has been alright from two (45%), so maybe he should focus on those shots until he finds his outside rhythm.

2. Injury bug bites hard

The Kings have been fortunate to be relatively healthy this month but when the injury bug did hit, it hit hard, taking out the Kings best three players for various stretches of this week.  Rudy Gay and Darren Collison missed two games each and then DeMarcus Cousins missed two himself.  The Kings are not a deep team aside from two quality bench players in Carl Landry and Omri Casspi, and losing one of their key starters sets the team back quite a bit.

3. NBA rules in favor of Memphis

The Kings were hoping they would win the appeal of their Memphis game, which would have meant another win and one less loss, but the NBA didn't agree and upheld the outcome of the game.  That's unfortunate, but at least now we can move on and focus on the rest of the season.

The Ugly:

1. Ramon Sessions

Alright, let's talk about Ramon.  This is more than a slump for Sessions.  This season has been a meltdown of epic proportions for him.  He's shooting just 32.9% from the field, turning the ball over almost as much as he's assisting and getting destroyed on the other end of the court.  The dropoff from Collison to Sessions has been big, and the numbers bear it out.  According to basketball-reference, the Kings are about 10 points per 100 possessions worse offensively with Sessions in the game and 9 points per 100 possessions worse defensively.  That's a huge net deficit.  Ray McCallum hasn't been much better, but at this point I'd rather be spending time developing him than playing Sessions.

2. Turnovers

The Kings have lost three straight and the biggest contributing factor (aside from injuries) has been turnovers.  Against an undermanned Houston squad, the Kings turned the ball over 21 times for 32 Houston points while only forcing 4 turnovers themselves.  Then in a comeback attempt against the Grizzlies, they turned it over 23 times, which stifled any realistic attempt for Sacramento to get back in the game (and put them in a deficit in the first place).

Player of the Week:

DeMarcus Cousins

25.5 PPG, .472 FG%, 14.5 RPG, 5.5 AST, 1.5 STL, 2.0 BLK in 35.9 MPG

DeMarcus only played two games this past week, but in those two games he was a monster.  Against New Orleans, he willed us to victory without Rudy Gay and Darren Collison, and he was the only guy who really had a good game against Houston either.  But what really stood out about DeMarcus this week was his absence in the previous two games.  The Kings are simply a much worse team without Cousins.  Without DeMarcus in the middle, Sacramento's gameplan is much different and they're worse off on both ends.  I'm not saying they would have beat the Spurs or Grizzlies if they did have him, but they would definitely have had a much better chance.  DeMarcus Cousins may not be the Most Valuable Player in the NBA quite yet, but he's sure as hell the Most Valuable Player on the Kings.

FanPost of the Week:

Is DeMarcus Cousins an All Star now? by SactownheartOChouse

Images/GIFs of the Week:

BOOGIE MONSTER

Get Down Grant and Jerry! GET DOWN!!!

Road Warriors!!!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This game was so bad

that I spent most of the time making an animation of Omri in Scarface in hopes that it would inspire them to play better. It did not work.

Say hello to my little gif:

This pretty much sums it up for me.

Comments of the Week:

DMC should challenge Malone to aim for 5 or less technicals for the season.

Guys, I know this sounds ridiculous

But I don’t think we’re fully realizing that Pizza Guys might be the best basketball school in the world.

Observations from the couch:

1. Ramon Sessions needs to be benched immediately. At this point, perhaps that’s just what he needs. He is providing absolutely nothing at the moment and is hurting is in more ways than I thought was seemingly possible for a single individual. His ball-handling has been poor, his passing atrocious, his decision-making even worse, his outside shooting horrific (he’s missed the rim entirely on many of his attempts), his strength of attacking the basket non-existent (throwing up floaters that turn into air-balls far too often), his ability to run an offense dreadful, and his already porous defense filled completely with holes. I’m normally one to defend any Kings player, but I just cannot find a single thing that Sessions is providing to this team on any given night. Maybe after 10 or so DNP’s he can be given another shot, as it’s not like he’s been bad before. He has proven to be solid at worst on other teams, but we’d be fortunate if he got even close to that.

2. Zach Randolph: If he plays like that every night, I don’t think anyone outside of the Spurs and Thunder have a remote chance at beating the Grizzlies in a four game series. They already had stingy defense, but now their offense has become very fluid. I really like the makeup of this team, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if they won the NBA title at this rate. Hopefully they can avoid injuries and give us small-market teams a good name for the future. I’m glad their fans have a great product to watch after many so-so and dismal years.

3. Ben McLemore: I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Ben is actually getting very close to the very exclusive 50/40/90 mark. After this game, he currently sits at 47.3% from the field, 41.3% from three, and 84.2% from the line (was at 86.7% from the line before missing a free throw, so getting to the line more often should help to boost that). If someone had told me last year that this would be McLemore’s stat line a year from then, I wouldn’t believe you. Just another reason to remember to let Nik develop and take the lumps along the way, even if it takes the whole year and a little more. McLemore is looking more and more comfortable out there every game, and it’s almost getting scary thinking of just how good he can become. It’s just fun to watch this guy.

4. DeMarcus Cousins: This almost looked like an old Cleveland-led LeBron team without LeBron tonight. When LeBron would sit for whatever reason, the Cavs would simply be blown out by the same teams they slaughtered earlier in the year. It looks like it’s becoming the same thing with DeMarcus Cousins now: A great and formidable team with him, but without him, we’re lucky to stay in the game. It’s amazing how far Cousins has come in terms of importance to the team.

5. Sunday afternoon games: Is it just me, or do we face the Grizzlies in a Sunday afternoon game every year?

Highlight of the Week:

Caption Contest:

Link to Last Week's Picture

Last Week's Winner: section214

"So then the Kentucky player says, 'I'm thinking of turning pro, but I don't think that I can afford the pay cut'. Ha-ha-ha! Get it?"

Last Week's Runner-Up: Kfan in Korea

JT: "Pookeyguru says per 36 numbers don't apply to you because you can't stay on the floor for 36 minutes."

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:

12/2 vs. Toronto W (The Raptors are a very good team, but DeMar DeRozan is out for the foreseeable future and the Kings should have Cousins back.  Cousins has traditionally played very well against the Raptors and I'm expecting a strong bounce back win to end this losing streak.)

12/5 vs. Indiana W (The Pacers have been surprisingly effective without Paul George, mainly thanks to their continued good defense.  However their offense still stinks and the Kings simply have more weapons.)

12/6 vs. Orlando W (The Magic have a lot of young talent, but they haven't realized their potential yet.  This is a game the Kings should win, even on the second night of a back to back.)

Nostradumbass Record for the Year: 8-9

Random Observations from around the league:

  • Denver has rebounded from a terrible start all the way back to .500 at 8-8.  They've been beating good teams too, like the Suns, Bulls, Pelicans and Cavaliers. Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson have stepped their games up and the offense is finally starting to click.
  • The Sixers actually have a good chance to get their first win this week, as they play Minnesota on December 3rd and Detroit on December 6th.  However, if they can't, they could be in real danger of setting the record for worst start in NBA history.  The current worst start in NBA history was set by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets at 0-18.  This 76ers team is so bad they might just make this 6-76ers joke a reality.
  • This season is the first in a while that I don't see a clear cut favorite for the NBA title.  The West alone has several teams that I could see winning it all: Memphis, San Antonio, Dallas, LA Clippers, Houston and Golden State.  I don't see anyone from the East winning it this year though, especially since Chicago can't stay healthy.