The Kings started off their road trip well with an impressive win against Brooklyn, but stumbled late against both the Wizards and Celtics. They probably would have beat Philadelphia, but the 76ers floor started preemptively weeping at the thought of a Kings whupping and wouldn’t stop in time for the game to start.
The High Post
Sacramento’s bench unit has started to come alive this year. Guys like Garrett Temple, Omri Casspi and Ty Lawson are giving the Kings a lift and keeping them in games. All year the Kings have been suffering from slow starts, but the bench has done a good job of getting the Kings back in games. Temple is a Swiss Army Knife, able to fill in a multitude of roles, and Lawson and Casspi especially work well together as they both play with speed and allow the Kings to turn up the pace a little bit. I’m with Tim on thinking the Kings need to incorporate Temple into the starting unit and Afflalo off the bench. From the bench, Afflalo can be more of a featured scorer, while Temple will provide tough defense on the other team’s opposing guards/wings from the get-go while not necessarily needing his own shots on the other side. We see teams go with this strategy all the time, (I’m about to say some names here that are way better than most players on the Kings, don’t judge me, I ‘m not making a direct comparison) like Thabo Sefolosha in front of James Harden at OKC, or the various players the Spurs have played in front of Manu Ginobili. The Kings could use a bit more balance between their starters and bench, and Temple for Afflalo makes the most sense to me. We’ll see what the Kings elect to do as I still think Coach Joerger is still in the experimental phase of his coaching tenure with the Kings, trying to make things work. Trades will also complicate things, as I’m almost certain that unless the Kings dramatically turn it around soon and look to be in the playoff hunt, they’ll be looking to find Rudy Gay a new home so that he doesn’t leave this summer for nothing.
The Low Post
Let’s talk about late game execution, or the lack thereof. The Kings have had several instances already this season where they lost games in the final moments because they didn’t execute a smart play.
The first one I can remember was against the Miami Heat. While the play to get DeMarcus Cousins rolling to the basket late was good, he got called for answering Hassan Whiteside’s physicality with his own and the play was negated. Even still the Kings had a chance to win the game and prevent overtime. There was absolutely no downside to any shot, as the game was tied. There was no need for a three or even a two, getting fouled would have worked just as fine. So what do the Kings do out of the timeout? They give the ball to Rudy Gay, who uses up most of the shot clock staring down his defender, and bricks a contested three at the buzzer. That kind of play infuriates me. Where are the screens or the action going to the basket? Why does it have to be such a long and difficult shot? If Rudy would have just driven and maybe pulled up from the free throw line, that would have given Sacramento a much better chance to win.
Against Boston, the Kings had a chance to tie the game after DeMarcus Cousins hit a three. Here the team absolutely did need a three, and so Coach Joerger put his best three point shooters on the floor. There was still plenty of time in the game to run a decent play and get the best shot off. So what do the Kings do out of the timeout? They get the ball to Cousins and instead of moving the ball around looking for the open shooter, he tries to do a rip-through move to draw a foul on a three, the refs don’t call it, and Sacramento loses as Boston recovers the ball. All Sacramento needed was one clean shot at the basket and they couldn’t even get that. The Kings need to be more fluid and less predictable in these situations. They need to run more plays like the one against Washington in which they had Boogie drive to the basket to send it to overtime. That’s a high percentage shot for him, even if it was well defended by Marcin Gortat. Keep it simple and play to your strengths, not the opponent’s.
Player of the Week
33.7 PPG, .464 FG%, .389 3P%, 13.3 RPG, 3.0 AST, 2.3 STL, 2.0 BLK in 36.6 MPG
DeMarcus Cousins passed up Chris Webber on the all-time Sacramento Kings scoring list this week, and at the rate he’s going, he’ll be passing up Peja Stojakovic sometime this season. While the Kings are still struggling to find their groove as a team, Cousins is playing better than ever. His efficiency is near all-time highs thanks to shooting almost 40% from three point range. He’s still getting to the line a ton and he’s turning the ball over at the lowest rate of his career. When teams go up against the Kings, their entire gameplan revolves around finding a way to stop Cousins and he still ends up being a force to be reckoned with. You can definitely understand Sacramento’s reasoning for not wanting to get rid of him; He’s the most talented player on this team by far, and one of the best players in the entire league.
Highlight of the Week
(all times Pacific)
12/4 at New York Knicks, 4:30 p.m.
12/7 at Dallas Mavericks, 5:30 p.m.
12/9 vs. New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m.
12/10 at Utah Jazz, 6 p.m.