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The Yetisburg Address: 2016-17 Week Four

Despite ending on a sour note, it was a pretty good week!

Kimani Okearah

The Kings came out of a rough three game stretch against what is likely going to be three playoff teams with two wins. That’s pretty good, even if one of those wins came on the tips of Boogie’s fingers and a helping hand from the Replay Review Center in Secaucus.

The High Post

Sacramento’s defense is still objectively bad. In fact it’s one of the worst in the league (Basketball-reference currently lists the Kings as the 27th worst defense). However there are times when we see the Kings play some excellent defense, in particular against the Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder. Rudy Gay really hasn’t gotten enough credit for how well he’s played on that side of the floor this year. He was the most important part of holding DeMar DeRozan, the NBA’s leading scorer at the time, to just 12 points on 3 of 15 shooting. Despite some poor offensive sets down the stretch of that game, the Kings were able to come up with big stops on the defensive side of the ball. If they can do that a lot more often, maybe they can start to win on a more consistent basis. We’ll see how they do on this upcoming road trip when they start to face non-playoff teams.

The Low Post

I could talk about Sacramento giving up an NBA record in Three Point Attempts to the Houston Rockets but instead I’m going to talk about Kevin Martin. Martin announced his retirement from basketball the other day, ending his 12 year career that started in Sacramento. Martin holds a special place in my heart as one of the lone bright spots in those transition, post-Webber years. Martin was never a superstar, but he was exceptionally good despite most of the time being the only player the opposing team even had to think about guarding. His funky shooting motion caused him to get fouled more on jumpers than any player I’d ever seen, and if it wasn’t contested, it was probably going in.

It’s unfortunate that the Kings were never able to garner any success with Martin on the court, but he did go on to be a key part of some very good teams afterwards. At times his contributions weren’t appreciated, due to injuries out of his control or the lack of a supporting cast, and his jersey will never hang in the rafters, but he’ll always be one of my favorite Kings.

Tony’s Tower of Terror: Power RanKings

I thought this would be a fun little Saturday morning exercise! Yes, it’s nothing more than a simple arbitrary ranking of how individual Kings players have performed this season, but before I toss my own thoughts out there, I figured I’d preface the power ranking by explaining why I decided to do this in the first place. Actually, it’s not nearly that complicated or interesting, so I’ll just say this:

Omri Casspi was the Kings’ second best player last season. I would’ve slotted Omri above Rudy Gay despite the fact that Gay clearly has more raw basketball talent. It’s pretty simple, Casspi had a really good year, Gay had what I would consider a ‘down’ year, and voilà, a power ranking is born.

I thought Casspi had a better season than anyone on the Kings after DeMarcus Cousins, which is the biggest reason why his absence in the rotation this season has been so frustrating to me. I still think he’s that guy, and I believe that the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings would benefit from having 2015-16 Omri Casspi in the rotation. What does that have to do with this years’ power ranking? Not all that much, admittedly, but it’s a fun, simple, unscientific way to keep tabs on how individual Kings are playing, and I wish I had mini in-season power rankings like this for last season to supplement my end-of-season thoughts. Like Omri Casspi being the Kings’ second best player in 2015-16.

This could probably be its own post if I took the time to do some serious number crunching with little blurbs explaining each position, but it’s Friday night, so we’re going off the cuff.

1. DeMarcus Cousins

2. Rudy Gay

3. Garrett Temple

4. Matt Barnes

5. Darren Collison

6. Ben McLemore

7. Kosta Koufos

8. Arron Afflalo

9. Ty Lawson

10. Willie Cauley-Stein

11. Omri Casspi

12. Anthony Tolliver

13. Skal Labissiere

14. Malachi Richardson

15. George Papagiannis

The end of this list gets extremely unfair. Cauley-Stein, Casspi, Tolliver, and the rookies really haven’t played enough to deliver an accurate grade, but in the interest of seeing how these guys slide up and down throughout the season, I figured they’d be worth slotting anyway.

PS. I also felt compelled to highlight just how awesome Garrett Temple has been this year. I want it to be known that yes, he’s been the third best King throughout the first month of the season. That should be recognized, praised, appreciated, remembered etc.

P.P.S. I’m going to go all YouTuber on you and ask you leave your rankings in the comments below. I’m interested to see how the minds at StR differ on this.

The View from Section 214

Let’s play “Rank Your Kings.” In the thread, rank your Kings based on where you were before the regular season began, and where you are now.

How you rank them is up to you. Talent, likability, musk – whatever motivates you. For me, talent and production counts, but it does not negate character. In that regard, it differs a bit from Tony’s player power rankings. So without further ado, here is my pre-regular season ranking:

1. Garrett Temple

2. DeMarcus Cousins

3. Omri Casspi

4. Willie Cauley-Stein

5. Kosta Koufos

6. Anthony Tolliver

7. Rudy Gay

8. Arron Afflalo

9. Skal Labissiere

10. Malachi Richardson

11. Georgios Papagiannis

12. Ben McLemore

13. Darren Collison

14. Ty Lawson

15. Matt Barnes

And currently:

1. Temple

2. Cousins

3. Gay (+4)

4. Collison (+9)

5. Afflalo (+3)

6. Koufos (-1)

7. McLemore (+5)

8. Tolliver (-2)

9. Casspi (-6)

10. Richardson

11. Labissiere (-2)

12. Papagiannis (-1)

13. Cauley-Stein (-9)

14. Lawson

15. Barnes

Of course, subjectivity rules here. Collison’s +9 move stems from a combination of his contrition and his play. The lack of competition on this list helps him as well – it actually pains me a bit to rate him this high, and it speaks to how much I still don’t like the current roster. Gay moves up as he plays with the vigor that a contract run can sometimes bring. McLemore’s move is completely due to lack of better options and the disappointing play of others, which is just sad. On the other end of the spectrum, Casspi drops six spots due to lack of contribution and over-abundance of being public about it – Tolliver, on the other hand, has also been disappointing but has remained a pro, and if there is any discontent on his part, he has certainly kept it in-house. Cauley-Stein has had the largest free-fall on my list, a result of not progressing combined with an air of entitlement.

This list will most likely change again by the end of 2016, and perhaps again by the all-star break.

Thanks for Garrett Temple, Vlade. Do more of that.

Kimani’s Photo of the Week

Player of the Week

Garrett Temple

8.3 PPG, .444 FG%, .385 3P%, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 STL, 1.0 AST in 23.5 MPG

Garrett Temple wasn’t the best Kings player this week, but I thought it was about time to give him some recognition for his work on both ends of the court. Temple is Dave Joerger’s Swiss Army Knife, able to come off the bench and play a multitude of roles. His scrappiness on the defensive end of the floor is quickly making him a fan favorite and it helped the Kings come up with big defensive plays in wins against the Raptors and Thunder. Temple wasn’t the flashiest Free Agent signing this summer, or even the biggest name the Kings brought in, but he’s already proving his value.

Highlight of the Week

Upcoming Schedule

(All times in Pacific)

11/27 at Brooklyn Nets, 3:00 p.m.

11/28 at Washington Wizards, 4:00 p.m.

11/30 at Philadelphia 76ers, 4:00 p.m.

12/2 at Boston Celtics, 4:30 p.m.