Posted by: Kingsguru21 | March 17, 2009

Where this team is at on March 17th

My current view of this team is somewhat skewed by the fact that they’re an NBA worst, 14-52, heading into an almost guaranteed loss playing versus the Hawks tonight.  The funny thing as we move forward, is what direction this team has, and what players does it need to take the Kings there, is that the upcoming 2009 NBA draft will mean so much more than anything else moving forward.

Center Position: Obviously, games like, having a career high vs OKC a week ago, or a game like the other night vs Washington, helps.

My general feeling is that while Spencer generally has improved; his greatest weakness at the beginning of the year still exists today. He needs to develop a quality go to move, and he needs to figure out where he wants his shots to come from. Some of that is coaching, and the expectation the coaching staff has when asking Spencer to do things. More than that though, if anything, he needs to have a feel for what he should be doing offensively when he’s on the block, at the top of the key, and everything else. He hasn’t quite developed that. Also, TZ did an incredible job using the NBA hot spots highlighting where Shawes most effective shooting is coming from. Surprisingly, or maybe not I suppose when you watch Mr Hawes closely, what you see is a player who slows down is the most effective. In the mid range game, he’s rushed his shots more often than not.

Power Forward: Jason Thompson is an interesting case study in how a player’s development is crucial to the franchise, both in the decision making the franchise will undertake, and to the player’s ability long term to be counted upon as a player in the rotation. There is some questions whether JT can make that leap. That’s really not the question I have at this point. My question is can Kings fans be patient with JT if the Kings don’t take Blake Griffin in this draft? After all, there are memories of not taking Karl Malone because the team had Otis Thorpe.

Speaking of Griffin, I don’t know that Griffin is going to have the career that people are hyping him for. He doesn’t seem to have the length to be a very good shot blocker (and JT is scratching the surface here as well), and his rebounding, while astounding, is not necessarily going to be a huge strength if he suffers in the low post defense and shot blocking department that he is clearly suffering from. His defense will take awhile to catch up, and there’s a chance, if nothing else, he may not having anything to give beyond what his gifts will give you. He’s probably going to be a 20-10 guy if healthy for a number of years, but I’m not sure that’s what the Kings really need at this point. Particularly since I believe Jason Thompson could get there with time given how little he touches the ball now in this offense, and how much growth he has in several area’s to do offensively. One area is that he needs to get better footwork when he makes moves on the block. You often see him spread his lower body making a move and it’s symptomatic of several things. One, his footwork is not what it should be because his feet (credit to David Thorpe for pointing this out) often point in different directions.

I believe that JT is making nice progress. The question is whether that progress translates to a good player, very good player, or something beyond. Nobody knows that answer, and if somebody says they do, they’re lying. My personal feeling is that JT’s ceiling is David West level talent with less offensive firepower and more defensive firepower (which doesn’t bother me with Shawes around).

Small Forward: Donte Greene has not played very much, or, most of the time, that well so far this season. Depending on whom you believe, and if you ask me Jerry Reynolds is worth believing, is that Donte is the type of 2 positional player that can burn bigger players outside, and punish smaller players inside. What does this mean position wise? Well, vs Power Forwards, he takes them outside, and against Smaller Forwards he takes them inside. That’s what the Kings see. It’s a potentially lucrative matchup. It’s even better when you consider that Jason Thompson is 6’11, Spencer Hawes is 7 feet, and Donte Greene is 6’10. However, unlike Thompson and Hawes who’ve made serious strides, Greene is still seeing a lot of stumbling blocks as some are questioning his maturity and ability to work on his game. (Watch the clip I linked to on StR–there’s a great shot of Donte working with Pete Carril, and looking interested in doing so. I don’t think that was by accident. The team recognizes that are subtle ways to show the kid is making improvements. That’s one way.)

The rest of the team is pretty much what anyone thinks. Nocioni is tough. Martin is super efficient offensively and, not right until the off-season heals his ankle. (When he has that rest he is a different player.) Udrih has disappointed. McCants, is, umm McCants. I do not hold out hope on him. I’ve always considered it a bonus if he played well, which he has had his moments. Will Solomon can fade away as soon as April 20th comes. Who is Calvin Booth and Cedric Simmons? I kid, but for the Kings purposes, that’s pretty much it. Even if they won’t officially say it. Bobby Jackson is probably out for the rest of the season assuming he cares about his face. Bobby has gutted out this awful season. I say the Kings should let him rest up and decide on his future. What happened to his cheek was just bad luck. Francisco Garcia actually deserves his own post, and I don’t feel like doing that right now. Let’s just say that the difference between good and bad Cisco is small, and the difference means everything to the Kings.

Thompson, Hawes, Martin, Greene, Garcia, Udrih, and Nocioni will all be under contract next season. The Kings have options for Ike Diogu (who hasn’t played much), and Rashad McCants. They will also have a minimum of 3 draft picks heading into the June draft (their pick, Houston’s selection likely to be anywhere from 18-25), and their own 1st round (likely to be 31st or 32nd overall). The important point is that this team has one chance to get a franchise altering player, and 2 chances to pick rotation players. Regardless of Trades or Free Agency, this draft will chart the important course for this team over the next 10 seasons. Are you, as fans, ready to deal with that reality?

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