Welcome back to another season of Kings basketball! This year's campaign kicked off with a preseason affair an against old nemesis, the Lakeshow of Los Angeles. Considering that the result doesn't matter, I won't bore you with a game narrative and just move onto the notes. Just know the Kings were on their way to a romp with a 52-39 halftime lead before DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, Kosta Koufos, and Arron Afflalo took the night off. And then it all went to hell.
- Cousins breezed his way to 11 points (3/5 FG, 5/6 FT), 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in the first half. The Kings set up a lot to get him looks both in the high and low post and there wasn't much the Lakers could do to stop it. Boogie was, unfortunately, sloppy with the ball at times with 3 turnovers of his own. He's always been a high turnover guy, but lets see if this is just a bit of preseason rust.
- Interestingly, it was Koufos who got the start next to Cousins. Koufos was not good next to Cousins last year, so it will be worth monitoring to see how the duo performs next to eachother in a different offensive system. The Kings do have multiple options; they can go with Gay's scoring, Willie Cauley-Stein's athleticism, Tolliver's shooting, or Barnes' Barnesiness alongside Boogie to start the game.
- Gay (8 points) and Afflalo (14 points) served as effective wingmen, using their size in the post on their way to efficient scoring nights. Afflalo also bombed away from the perimeter, showing off a professional game the Kings have lacked at the SG spot in quite some time.
- It was very interesting to see how de-emphasized the PG position was. Collison started at PG, but only put up a single shot with no assists. Ty Lawson, the guy I'm most interested in seeing get reps, seemed to take a backseat at times to, well, anybody on the court, including Ben McLemore, Omri Casspi, and Garrett Temple. Lawson was rusty with his shot but did a really nice job setting teammates up out of pick-and-roll opportunities. The Kings don't have very good creative wings off the bench so I want to see Lawson take more charge of the second unit.
- McLemore and Casspi had rough outings for their first go, but both were hardly invisible. McLemore had no conscience putting up shots, going 3 for 10, but looked like he was forcing it at times. Casspi made some good moves for the most part but went up soft at times and got repeated rejected by Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black.
- Temple showed off his all-around skillset but I don't like him as the sole ballhandler at PG. He's not a natural at the position and the Kings offense really ground to a halt whenever he was out there to face the music alone. If he's going to be the primary backup PG while Collison is suspended its going to a challenge for Joerger to figure out how to keep the offense humming. Temple was slow getting the ball into the high post, he struggled with some crosscourt passes you'd expect a PG to make, and didn't dictate the tempo well. Under his watch, the Kings squandered their double-digit lead and got blown out (but it wasn't all his fault).
- It was not a good night for the Kings' young bigs. Cauley-Stein looked disinterested, getting caught fouling with his hands and fumbling passes from his teammates he should have controlled. Both Skal Labissiere and George Papagiannis got extended minutes in the second half and got completely wrecked by the Lakers crew of bigs. The ball runs through them often in the high post in Joerger's offense and they are just way too slow at making reads. It doesn't help that they are very loose with the ball, coughing it up frequently to marauding Laker double-teams. They both also got completely worked on the glass to both Tarik Black and Thomas Robinson. It was under Skal and Papa's watch that the Lakers furiously roared back to take the game away.
- Malachi Richardson looked pretty nice whenever he had the ball. He not only shot the ball well, but he also made some pretty nice reads out of pick-and-roll play. He probably won't play much but I like the talent and athleticism he has to work with.
- Its impossible to really evaluate the defense against a poor team like the Lakers. But the starters and main rotation guys made intelligible rotations, contested shots, and forced turnovers at least at a basic level, so that was nice to see. Next game against the apocalyptic beast spawning in the Bay Area will be a better barometer.