The tank is now officially fully engaged. With next to no practice time under their belts, the new-look Sacramento Kings looked less like a professional team and more like a pickup team. Unfortunately, in the NBA, this means that more often than not this is a formula for getting pasted.
Tonight, it was the Brooklyn Nets. The same team on a sixteen game losing streak and no incentive to tank due to owing a pick swap to the Boston Celtics this season. No matter, for the Kings tank is proud and mighty. The Kings lost, but they lost with culture and character.
Basically, what the veterans on the team did is academic. It doesn’t really matter that Arron Afflalo played well with 14 points, or that Kosta Koufos and Anthony Tolliver failed to make a field goal in 14 attempts. Tyreke Evans’ jumper looks better, but hasn’t quite got his touch around the rim back. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson did stuff. The Kings offense devolved into ugliness constantly, failing to run plays and essentially becoming a “my-turn, your-turn” isolation slugfest.
But really, this is about the youth. Skal Labissiere got his first career start and showed off both his talent and rawness. Skal dropped 10 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes. He had some impressive highlights on defense in the midst of mistakes and getting overpowered by Brook Lopez. His skillset is extremely impressive for his age; he shows the ability to shoot from range while also finishing with touch around the rim. More please!
Buddy Hield also showed off his scoring instincts, bombing away from three while also getting into the paint with some nifty finishes. But there were some ugly moments where he lost focus, with a critical backcourt violation and a missed open corner three that would have kept the Kings close. On the other hand, Buddy the tank commander came through bigtime!
The Kings finally have some time off to get some practices in before their next game at home against the Jazz. Don’t expect any miracles, but the new guys just knowing the playbook will be big for the team as a whole. It’ll be good for the Kings to get Buddy more reps attacking off of the reads that Dave Joerger’s offense requires. The Kings are at 25-36, falling into 9th in the Tankathon race and finally in position to keep their pick.
21 games left!