clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Yetisburg Address: 2016-17 Week 11

For a 1-2 week, it probably went about as well as you could expect.

Kimani Okearah

The Kings played the best of both conferences this week and while they didn’t come out on top in either of those games, at least they competed. That’s the opposite of what happened against the Detroit Pistons, in which the Kings barely competed for most of the game and somehow still did come out on top. Funny how that works.

The High Post

Thank God the Kings beat the Pistons on Tuesday because if they hadn’t, we would have had some small riots starting. Not only did the Kings look like they didn’t care for half the game, but they allowed themselves to dig yet another deep hole (18 points). Sacramento now has three wins this season in which they have dug themselves out of an 18 point or bigger hole this season, which would be impressive if not for the fact that they’ve had way more than three games in which they’ve been down by 18 or more points.

But seriously, the Kings showed a lot of heart coming back and winning that game. DeMarcus Cousins was the only King who showed up for the first half of the game, and when he came into the fourth quarter, he proved clutch with some big, big shots. The bench continued to be terrific, especially Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson. The Kings just need to start channeling that energy and effort all game long and they’d have a much better record than 16-23.

The Low Post

I think it’s safe to say at this point that the Kings sent the wrong Shooting Guard to Philadelphia a couple of years ago. That’s not to say that Nik Stauskas is blowing up or anything, but one thing he is doing in his third year in the NBA is showing some signs of improvement. Just check out this nifty move he had in a recent game:

He’s also starting to shoot better from the floor and likely would be more efficient if Philadelphia was a better team. But again, he’s now exactly blowing anyone out of the water with his play, he’s merely improving.

Meanwhile Ben McLemore is regressing in his fourth year in the NBA. All I’ve heard about Ben is how hard of a worker he is, which really stinks because that work is not bearing fruit so far. For the third straight season, McLemore’s FG% is down, his 3P% is worse than it was in his rookie year and he’s playing the least minutes in his career. And when he is in, he rarely seems to take advantage of the opportunities. It hurts even more when you look at Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who Detroit selected immediately after we took McLemore and see how he’s thriving as Detroit’s starting SG, or C.J. McCollum who went just two picks later.

To think how much could have been changed if the Kings had only drafted better. Most teams hope for at least a rotation player in the lottery, if not a potential star. Ever since the Kings have drafted DeMarcus Cousins in 2011, they have been in the lottery each year and have absolutely no rotation players to show for it (the jury’s still out on Willie Cauley-Stein but it’s not looking good right now). You’d likely come out better drafting completely randomly than how the Kings have drafted. Just one better pick would have had huge ramifications for the Kings in the long run.

The View from Section 214

There are no rules to being a fan.

I have been noodling on this over the past couple of months, as Kings fans have challenged other Kings fans as to their level of fandom. This, of course, is a foolish venture, as anyone that wishes to identify themselves as a Kings fan is, by definition, a Kings fan. They are also someone that should probably seek counseling immediately. Identifying yourself as a Kings fan in this day and age is tantamount to walking into a lion’s den and identifying yourself as an amuse bouche (not to be confused with an amused douche, which is how we identify Warriors fans…I keed, I keed!).

The conversation of fandom expanded as the Lakers and Warriors came to town, and the topics of bandwagon and fair-weather fans were broached. Casual vs. hard-core, positive vs. negative, statistical vs. eyeball. Fat fans, skinny fans, fans who spend big bucks, tough fans, sissy fans, even fans who say Cuz sucks, love Temple, Garrett Temple, the one…fans…love…to…watch!

Where was I?

The thing is, I don’t think that there is a wrong way to be a fan. There are levels, and everyone chooses their level based on things such as their love of the sport, or their city, or their ability to be included around the water cooler, or they look good in the team colors, or it’s Tuesday and they have run out of other things to do.

I have a friend (humor me) that is a Warriors fan, circa 2014-present. He does not know who Franklin Mieuli was, or Garry St. Jean (or his affiliation with the Kings), or Nate Thurmond or Cliff Ray. He has vague knowledge that Rick Barry played for them, as well as Mitch Richmond, but did not know that Chris Webber played for them. On the other hand, he knows the birthdays of all of his nieces and nephews, while I depend on my siblings for annual reminders. I suppose one could argue that this makes me a better fan and him a better uncle. Another way of looking at it is that we have each chosen our level of commitment and participation in each of these ventures, extracting out levels of enjoyment that are acceptable for our respective lives. All of the nieces and nephews are happy, and no fans have been harmed.

As I’ve noted in previous articles, I became a San Francisco Giants fan primarily because my dad was a Giants fan. He went to his first Giants game in 1928, and he took me to my first Giants game in 1965. My Giants fandom is genetic (prior to 2010 we called it a birth defect). It is visceral. It is steeped in family and the ties that bind. It is thicker than water.

I make a nearly-annual pilgrimage to Chicago, where I meet up with my best friend and take in the Cubs-Giants series at Wrigley Field. Prior to 2010, I was one of fewer than a couple of dozen people that were rocking the black and orange in the stands. Since 2010, there have been literally hundreds of people in Giants garb in the stands when the Giants come to Wrigley.

Do these new fans know who Willie Mays is? Almost all of them do, though to varying degrees. But do they know who Jim Rosario is? Johnnie LeMaster? Ed Halicki? No, most of them do not. The bigger question is, does it matter, and if so, why? I get no preferred seating for picking Al Gallagher out of a lineup. My knowledge of Herman Franks does not get me free ballpark franks. My reward for all those games at Candlestick Park is the memories, which are huge for me and inconsequential for others.

When it comes to basketball, I began as a Lew Alcindor fan. I followed him from UCLA to Milwaukee to Los Angeles. When the Kings came to Sacramento in 1985, I was a full-fledged Lakers fan. I knew enough about Jerry West and Elgin Baylor and Gail Goodrich and Wilt Chamberlain, though nothing really about Pat Riley or Leroy Ellis. I was aware that they had originated in Minneapolis, but if I was going to talk Lakers, it pretty much had to be from the 1976-1985 period. I guess this made me a hard core Alcindor / Jabbar fan, and a bandwagon Lakers fan. It did not impact my ability to enjoy the games or the team, and I don’t believe that it adversely impacted any other Lakers fans.

I began rooting for the Kings in ’85, but held dual citizenship until Jabbar retired in 1989. This was relatively easy to do, as it seemed as though the Lakers and Kings played in two entirely different leagues. I sure don’t recall my dual citizenship harming me or anyone else in any way.

My Kings fandom differs from my Giants fandom in that it stems from civic and not familial roots. The Giants belonged to my family, but the Kings belonged to Sacramento. There was civic pride involved (especially for those of us that were long-time native Sacramentans), and an atmosphere early on (and through the first eighteen years, really) that felt collegiate. Being a Kings fan was like being a first-time homeowner, full of pride and excitement and anticipation (insert “should have gotten the full home warranty” joke here).

During the golden age of Kings basketball (1998-2006), the fan base swelled. There were purple flags on vehicles. The Kings were the talk of the town. And some of us knew that Phil Johnson was the first coach of the Sacramento era, and some of us did not. Some of us spoke warmly of Lionel Simmons, while others had never seen him play. And that was fine. The city was electric with Kings buzz. For the veteran fan, it was a return on investment. For the novice, it was new and exciting. And it was fun for everyone, and there was room for everyone to participate at their chosen level.

My office is its own laboratory when it comes to identifying one’s commitment to being a Kings fan. My desk area is adorned with over two dozen pieces of Kings paraphernalia, from posters to photos to bobbleheads to basketballs to shoes to mugs to coasters and more. When someone comes in and asks me, “What do you think about those Kings?” I launch into StR mode. If you happen to be a fellow StR member as was our former postal carrier (hey Ryan!), the conversation is deep and rich to the extent of almost annoying my fellow office inhabitants. If you are a very casual fan that was just trying to make polite conversation, you find yourself backpedaling out the door while I rail on without seeming to take a breath. Again, you can see fans that have sought out and attained their own personal level of fandom, and I think that’s great.

I spend a ton of time following the Giants and Kings because I want to, not because I have to. And when bigger things spring up, such as my daughter’s cheer competitions or my son’s baseball games, the Giants and Kings take a back seat. They are there for my enjoyment, and my investment is my decision, a decision that really should have no impact on anyone else.

Yes, you can and will find a gaggle of douche nozzles in every fan base. Red Sox nation found that out (it is a virtual birthright in Boston, regardless of the sport). The Giants have found that out. The Cubs will find that out. They have existed for decades in Lakers land, and they are alive and well and rooting for the Warriors.

And the Kings. If you have any doubt about that one, ask any Warriors fan that was subjected to the bus loads of Kings fans that descended on what was then the Indoor Oakland Coliseum back in the early 2000’s. We…were…insufferable. It was as though we had a personal hand in assembling the roster. We took credit for the wins, with the losses being attributed to Adelman and/or the referees. From the outside looking in, we were a tough group to digest.

The uber-douches are my lone exception to the “let a fan fan however they choose to fan” rule. The fans that are hell-bent on showing up at an arena and making themselves the show at the expense of those around them, frequently fueled by alcohol and laced with profanity. But this is much more a symptom of the individual than the overall fan base. As often as not, you will find similary clothed individuals in proximity of these trolls that are embarrassed and even apologetic.

Anyhoo, I welcome all fans, with the exception of the uber-douches. Casual, fair weather, bandwagon, positive, negative. Cheer (except for Greg). Boo (especially Greg). Come get your level of fan on. Whatever works for you works for me. Who am I to tell you how you should fan? Who is anybody to tell you how you should fan?

Temple, Garret Temple, the one…fans…love…to…watch.

Giraffe Analysis: Perimeter Defense is Killing the Kings

(Statistics for this section compiled before Sacramento’s game against the Cavaliers)

On November 25th, in a lop-sided victory over Sacramento, the Houston Rockets set an NBA record (which they’ve since broken) by taking 50 shots from beyond the arc and sinking 21 of them. It seems as if every night since then, a new team is unleashing a 3 point barrage against the Kings and fans and analysts alike are left shaking their heads at the leaky ship that is our perimeter defense.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a case where the eye-test and statistics disagree. The obvious game plan against Sacramento is to simply jack up as many long-balls as you can. Teams are taking advantage of the Kings’ vulnerability by taking the highest percentage of 3 pointers in the NBA and shooting 1.5% better than their season averages.

3 Point Defense Per Game*

Opponent 3 point shooting Raw Statistics NBA rank
Opponent 3 point shooting Raw Statistics NBA rank
% of shots which are 3PA 35.80% 30th
3P% differential 1.50% 26th
3PA/PG 29.1 26th
3PM/PG 11 30th

The lack of dedication to preventing teams from going off from beyond the arc has cost the Kings multiple victories this season. In wins, Sacramento is outscoring opponents by 2.4 PPG from downtown; whereas in defeat they are outscored by 12.9 points.

In Wins*

Team 3PM 3PA 3P%
Team 3PM 3PA 3P%
Sacramento 9.8 24.1 40.6
Opponent 9 26.9 33

In Losses*

Team 3PM 3PA 3P%
Team 3PM 3PA 3P%
Sacramento 8.2 25.4 32.2
Opponent 12.5 30.5 41

The Kings have four rotation players who are inexcusably ineffective when it comes to their 3 point defense. Ty Lawson is getting shredded on the perimeter and unsurprisingly, Matt Barnes and Ben McLemore made the list as well.

Worst Perimeter Defenders*

Player Opp avg 3P% Opp 3P% Differential
Player Opp avg 3P% Opp 3P% Differential
Ty Lawson 36.5 44.4 7.9
Ben McLemore 36.7 41.9 5.1
Matt Barnes 35.9 38.6 2.7
Omri Casspi 35.6 37.8 2.3

On the other end of the spectrum, Dave Joerger can trust just four players to make it tough on opponents to establish a rhythm beyond the arc. Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos, Rudy Gay, and Darren Collison are the only individuals who decrease their man’s accuracy from deep. Every other Kings player has a positive differential when it comes to guarding the 3 point line.

Best Perimeter Defenders*

Player Opp avg 3P% Opp 3P% Differential
Player Opp avg 3P% Opp 3P% Differential
Arron Afflalo 36.9 34.9 -2
Kosta Koufos 37.1 35.2 -1.9
Rudy Gay 36.5 35.5 -1
Darren Collison 36.9 36.3 -0.6

The Kings should see some improvement in their 3 point defense now that they’re only starting one center and Ben McLemore is deservedly out of the rotation, but until this squad commits to stopping the most valuable shot in the game, losses will continue to pile up.

*all statistics courtesy of NBA.com

Kimani’s Photo of the Week

Rudy’s got his eye on Kimani
Kimani Okearah

Highlight of the Week

Player of the Week

DeMarcus Cousins

22.3 PTS, .512 FG%, .462 3P%, 10.3 REB, 7.3 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.0 BLK in 32.7 MPG

A pretty good week for the Kings new $200 million dollar man. Of course, he hasn’t signed a new deal yet and won’t until this summer, but at this point it seems inevitable. For the Kings, this is a coup. Not many unsuccessful small market teams (see Love, Kevin and Carter, Vince) get to keep their star on a third contract. Hell, not even some successful small market teams (see Paul, Chris and Durant, Kevin) tend to keep their stars on a third contract before they decide they want out. We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out the exact terms of the deal (rumors of a no-trade clause seem weird considering that under current rules those aren’t available for extensions, just new contracts) but this buys the Kings time to build around one of the most talented players in the NBA. Damn shame they wasted so many opportunities already (do not look at Isaiah Thomas’ statistics for this season if you want to remain happy but if you do, make sure to link them to Pete D’Alessandro via Twitter).

Upcoming Schedule

(All times Pacific)

Jan. 15th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at 6:00 PM

Jan. 18th vs. Indiana Pacers at 7:30 PM

Jan. 20th at Memphis Grizzlies at 5:00 PM

Jan. 21st at Chicago Bulls at 6:00 PM