After an up and down game against the Los Angeles Lakers ultimately resulted in a 12 point victory for the Sacramento Kings, the boys in purple have flown into Lexington, Kentucky to take on the Washington Wizards in a game in which there are four former players from the University of Kentucky. Looking to go above the .500 mark this preseason, the Kings will have to run up against DeMarcus Cousin’s former teammate John Wall, an all-world point guard recently coming off of surgery in both of his knees. Four Wildcats spread across two teams, hungry to show off for their old coach and fans in a rabid basketball environment? Sounds like a game worth watching! Tough. Go grab a radio, turn that frown upside down and as always, let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Saturday, October 15th; 4:00pm PST
Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 am
Things to Consider:
The Man Who Forgot How to Miss: I think its about time we start talking about the impact that Anthony Tolliver is apt to have with this Sacramento Kings squad. It’s been oft talked about that Tolliver came in to essentially replace fan favorite Quincy Acy, and for many of us, there was a question of whether or not he would be worth the money and spot that was invested in him and yet, Tolliver’s preseason performances have done wonders for shutting up many of the haters. Will he ever grow a beard worth commemorating? No, probably not but, beards don’t get buckets and Anthony Tolliver surely does. Thursday night Anthony Tolliver made seven of his nine shots from the field, missing two from inside the arc and splashing all seven of his shots from deep. With a team that will be much more reliant this year on three point shooting from everyone but their center, Tolliver’s roll is one that is perfectly suitable for a DeMarcus-centric squad. We know Omri Casspi can go supernova. We’ve now seen Tolliver sustain a three point barrage. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are both better than average three point shooters. Adding a player like Tolliver helps create an identity in a way that the man he’s replacing really couldn’t. Hustle, put back dunks and congeniality are nice, but spreading the floor on a night-to-night basis leads to one on one opportunities for DeMarcus Cousins, leads to buckets and fouls, which, should in turn either get those shooters open as the defense collapses on the big man in the middle or should keep other teams’ big in foul trouble as they try to handle Boogie in single coverage. These are the ways you beat modern NBA teams, especially with a big man as your centerpiece, and shooting performances from Anthony Tolliver could be a lot of fun to watch (and more common than we would think) if the big guy in the middle continues to attract multiple defenders.
Rudy, or Not, Here I Come: This is probably much less of something to consider than something that needs some answering. Do you think Rudy Gay’s effort and performances of late have been due to him trying to build his stock in hopes of a move, or because he’s finally getting comfortable within an NBA system much more suitable to his strengths? Sure, Rudy hasn’t been shooting well. 38% is pretty abysmal. But he’s also finding ways to fill the stat sheet in other ways. In the four games of this preseason, he’s averaging five rebounds, four assists, a steal and a half a game and over a block a game on top of that. Thursday night against the Lakers, he wasn’t shooting well, but grabbed 9 boards and dished out 7 assists. Obviously when numbers like this get brought up, the Small Sample Size Alarm should be blaring in one ear, and the Preseason Slide Whistle should be going off in the other, but Rudy’s case is one that can at least be discussed in terms of trends and motivations. If Rudy finds himself producing in a system he’s comfortable with and the stability he is seeking seems to be in place in Sacramento, does he still leave at the end of the year? If Rudy is producing within the system, do the Kings become more willing to sell him high, or become more hesitant because they think the numbers will convince him to stay? His case is a fascinating one, made all the more enigmatic because the franchise’s direction seems to be muddled by its decision makers at the top. Since Vivek has stepped into the ownership garments, the Kings have seemed to make it a point to help facilitate releases or trades in the case of players who wanted out, even in the face of asset management saying otherwise. Jimmer Fredette’s agent asked for him to be released and so the King’s sent him packing on his birthday. Seth Curry apparently wanted out of Sacramento so the Kings set let him go to Dallas without giving an offer. The way the Kings handle Rudy Gay will be important in either showing that they’re once again doing a player and his agent a favor by sending him away regardless of the assets returned, or that they’re willing to take the risk of keeping a more important piece if they think they can work things out.
Predictions: DeMarcus Cousins will drop the hammer on some poor soul and won’t be able to resist hamming it up for his old fans, so he’ll do the “John Wall” dance and earn a technical. Kevin “Sexual White Chocolate” Fippin will be held to 3 points and in frustration, announce at halftime that the real name of Wizard’s mascot G-Wiz is actually Greg Wissinger. Everyone will boo. Bradley Beal will break something, because Bradley Beal always breaks something.
Kings 107, Wizards 95