Last year at this time, the Kings were 15-21 and fighting for the #8 seed. This year, they’re doing the exact same. Yet somehow this year feels far more disappointing. Maybe it’s the lack of progress. Maybe it’s the fact that a team that can go on the road in Denver and get a big road win somehow can’t take care of business at home against a 10 win Miami team missing two of its best players. This team is frustratingly inconsistent.
The High Post
I was all set to give Arron Afflalo the player of the week award down below before his clunker against the L.A. Clippers. Afflalo has not been very good for the Kings this season but he looked much better in the two games earlier this week. He was a crucial part of Sacramento’s win in Denver against his former team, and he was one of the few players who showed up to play against the Miami Heat the next night. I like Afflalo off the bench as a featured scorer, as he’s very good in post-up situations against smaller players and in the midrange. He’s not quick enough to guard opposing guards anymore however so he should probably be exclusively playing Small Forward at this point. The one semi-unfortunate part about Afflalo playing well again is that Coach Joerger’s declaration that he would start to insert Malachi Richardson into the lineup more often has seemingly been forgotten. However Richardson should probably be on the depth chart ahead of Ben McLemore at this point. At least Richardson might have a future with this team whereas McLemore is still making rookie mistakes (like passing up open threes with the shot clock expiring) in his fourth season.
The Low Post
I left the Golden 1 Center on Wednesday more upset than I have in a long while. I made the following joke on Twitter the morning before the game, tongue firmly in cheek:
The Heat have ton of injuries. This is a game the Kings should win. So naturally I expect it to be a back and forth down to the wire affair— Akis Yerocostas (@Aykis16) January 4, 2017
“Back and Forth” was actually a bit of an overestimation on my part, as the Kings allowed themselves to fall into a 19 point hole by once again disregarding the three point line. Miami averages about 8.5 threes a game on the season. They had 8 in the first half against Sacramento.
There was one bright spot in the game however, and that was Sacramento’s bench. They came in the 3rd quarter and brought the energy and effort that had been missing all game and not only got the Kings back in the game, but took the lead. That’s why I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Matt Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins walk to the table to check in, shortly after Sacramento had regained the lead. The instant those two came in and Anthony Tolliver and Kosta Koufos left, the game changed. The focus went away from tough defense and sharing the ball to isolation, trying to force shots through Boogie (who Miami had clearly gameplanned very well for, as he shot just 4-15) and complaining to the officials. Matt Barnes even managed to get a technical after he made a layup, during crunch time.
After the game, when asked about the substitution in the fourth, Coach Joerger went on to say that he believed those guys were getting fatigued, to which I call Bullshit, good sir. Kosta Koufos played 15 minutes that game. Anthony Tolliver played 29. Matt Barnes somehow ended up leading the team in minutes at 33 and a half. Matt Barnes. The guy who statistically has the worst net rating on the team and despite the mistakes he makes gets an unlimited leash from Coach Joerger. Sacramento’s bench lineup should have been allowed to play the game out. It would have not only been a good message to send (as in I don’t care if it’s DeMarcus Cousins or Willie Cauley-Stein, if you’re not playing hard, you’re not playing, basically the same rhetoric Coach spouted before the season), but it probably would have given the Kings a better chance to win. I would have bought the fatigue excuse if they had been taken out after showing signs of faltering, but they were still going strong.
Games like that game against Miami are why I can’t understand why some people want to make the playoffs so badly this year. I wouldn’t have any problem with the Kings being a playoff team, if they actually PLAYED LIKE A PLAYOFF TEAM. This is not a good team, and the only reason that they even have a chance to make the playoffs right now is because the rest of the bottom of the West has played so poorly. Making the playoffs because of a fluke isn’t magically going to fix things going forward so that the team somehow plays better in future years, especially since so little of this team is seemingly part of the team’s long term plans. Successful teams that compete for a long time have both internal development and continuity, two things the Kings have not had in quite some time.
But yeah, let’s throw what remaining assets we have for 45 games of Paul Millsap and Boogie.
The View from Section 214
Number crunching through 36 games (44% of the season):
15-21, which projects out to a 34-48 record.
7-9 home, 8-12 road, also projects out to 34-48 record.
5-11 vs. teams above .500, 10-10 vs. teams below .500, which projects out to a 33-49 record.
DeMarcus Cousins is currently credited with 11 technical fouls, one fewer than league leader Russell Westbrook, and more than the other 445 players that have played in the NBA this year. Cousins is picking up technical fouls at a rate of one every 3.3 games. At his current pace he will pick up his 16th technical in game 53, earning a suspension in game 54. This same pace would earn him additional suspensions in games 62, 71, and 80.
- This team is meeting my tepid expectations as it pertains to won-loss record.
- This team is meeting my tepid expectations as it pertains to how much fun it is (not) to watch them ply their craft.
- I need to get new expectations.
- Thank you (damn you!), Garrett Temple for being the only reason I can give Mrs.section214 as to why I watch the games.
- Thank you (damn you!!!), Sactown Royalty and its members for being the only reason that I continue to follow this joke of a professional sports franchise. I am continually amazed by how much people here can make me laugh when the topic is really anything but humorous.
- Thank you, Jerry Reynolds for being my validation for being a Kings fan for over 30 years.
- A list of teams with a franchise player as polarizing as DeMarcus Cousins: New York (Carmelo Anthony)...and that's about it...and at least the Knicks have Kristaps Porzingis, who may already be the best player in that organization.
- I can't think of a time where I have been less enthused about being a Kings fan.
- I am less enthused than the day of the Udrih/Biyombo for Salmons/Fredette trade.
- I am less enthused than the day they traded Kevin Martin to pay the utility bills.
- I am less enthused (though barely) than the day they let Isaiah Thomas walk for nothing in return.
- I am less enthused than the day Michael Malone was fired.
- I am less enthused than the day that Daina Falk's tweet dropped. I am less enthused than when the Maloof's ate $6k burgers on TV while measures "Q" & "R" went down in flames.
- I would be happier not winning another game this season and watching the rookies play. And they could suck, and I would still be happier.
- Nice arena, though. Looking forward to seeing Bruno Mars there.
Kimani’s Photo of the Week
Highlight of the Week
Player of the Week
16.0 PTS, .565 FG%, .250 3P%, 6.0 AST, 2.0 REB, 1.0 STL in 33.0 MPG
Lawson only played a couple of games this week, but continued his strong play as of late. Gone is the timid Lawson of the early season who was afraid to take a shot or make a mistake. Lawson is looking more and more like his old self now, taking big shots and using his quickness to get to the basket and cause havoc for opposing defenses. At this point of the season, Lawson has looked better at times than Darren Collison, but given Sacramento’s SG struggles, I expect we will see more of the Collison-Lawson lineup that started Friday’s game against the Clippers.
1/8/17 vs. Golden State Warriors at 6:00 PM
1/10/17 vs. Detroit Pistons at 7:30 PM
1/13/17 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 PM