Tonight the Kings face off against the Houston Rockets in the Summer League Final. The Kings as a whole have played very well throughout this tournament, having lost only their first game against the Spurs. The biggest reason for their great play has been their defense, as they've held all 6 teams they've played to under 42% from the field, a very good number:
- San Antonio: 39.7%
- Charlotte: 28.6%
- D-League Select: 40.6%
- Timberwolves: 41.4%
- Bulls: 30.7%
- Wizards: 35.2%
Undrafted rookie Eric Moreland has been leading the way on the defensive end with his long arms and fantastic shotblocking ability. Moreland has yet to start but has still found a way to contribute in his time off the bench, averaging an awesome 2.6 blocks in just 18.8 minutes a game to go along with 8.6 rebounds. Moreland is a pogo stick on both ends, with a knack for positioning himself in the right spots and for going straight up to deny easy layups:
Offensively, Moreland isn't much more than a finisher of putbacks or easy tips around the rim, but he also knows this and doesn't try to force the issue. He knows that it's on the other end where his presence is felt and it goes beyond the blocks. For every block Moreland has had, he's forced several more tough shots or had the other team settle for a jumper instead. That's invaluable, and something the Kings haven't had since maybe Keon Clark. In his 4 years at Oregon State he had a career block rate of 8.3% and a career rebound rate of 19.7%, both elite numbers in those categories.
The Kings need this type of player on the roster. They need someone that can set the tone on defense without necessarily needing the ball on the other end. They need someone that will psychologically stop an opponent from driving because they fear they'll get rejected. Can Eric Moreland be that guy? Maybe, and maybe not, but I think his play in Summer League has clearly earned him a chance to try out for the main club in Fall training camp. Even if Moreland doesn't make the club, I think it's crucial that the Kings find a rotation big man who provides the same things that Moreland does. Sacramento already has a ton of offensive weapons, and it's about time they started to get some pieces for the other side of the floor.