Posted by: Kingsguru21 | February 21, 2010

Kings fade away into nothingness in 2nd half (aka no ball movement); lose to Suns 104-88

There are games that are difficult or complicated to recap. There are games that are not. This is game is 1 of each category, unfortunately. The Box Score and the 4 Factors:

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Sacramento 88.0 100.0 50.0% 18.9 23.7 19.3
Phoenix 118.2 49.4% 18.0 42.6 11.4

So, where shall we begin. With the good news or bad? Well, I’ll go with sequential.

The 1st half saw a lot of good things. The Kings utilizing Carl Landry in a few of the ways he’s capable of being realized. Jason Thompson hit some good shots, and Spencer Hawes did some things (like draw contact instead of shying away from it) I really liked. Tyreke Evans was so-so, and Omri Casspi was far worse. Donte Greene did most of his offensive damage in the 1st half.

Then came the 2nd half. The missed shots. The poor offensive and defensive sets. If we can stamp it on our foreheads, this would make life easy: The Kings are not going to improve much at defense with the current personnel. The core of this problem? It depends on whom you ask. I think, if for nothing else, that the perimeter defense hurts worse than the interior defense because the Kings have players like Spencer Hawes who are TRYING to play well on that end. Some of the lesser effort in the perimeter D is frustrating more so because Evans, Casspi, Udrih, Greene, Udoka and whomever else plays those spots isn’t getting the job done as an unit. The problem here is that the perimeter defenders ARE ALSO the best defenders this team has.

I think that this team has a problem most bad teams have. And, it’s very simple to describe. Everybody thinks it’s on them to raise the team rather than the group buying into a collective idea that everybody has a neatly defined role. And none of the young guys have figured out their defined role, and if PW has them in a role they are clearly not executing it. That, or PW has them in roles that are not appropriate for their abilities. (Do you sense a conundrum coming?) Aye, there’s the rub. That’s the problem with a young team.

The Kings are asking their young players to take the role that veterans usually play. And, as usual, with young players these roles often get to be too much and young players don’t often succeed nearly as well as players with NBA experience. Hence, the difficulty of rebuilding. Geoff Petrie and the management team knew that this year would be painful if rookies (or really young players) were consistently in the rotation as it has happened all year long. The amount of minutes these players are getting will help them as they learn the NBA and improve. But the initial learning curve is so steep, and what fans are forgetting is that so many players from a draft WON’T end up having significant careers. (That’s one of many reasons there is a draft every year.) There is no guarantee that any of the players on the roster now will end up being on the roster 5 years from now. (I’d bet that Tyreke Evans would be. But I digress.) Everyone else could be moved if the right price comes along. I didn’t think that Kevin Martin was exactly on the block, but Geoff Petrie found the right price and pulled the trigger. While I don’t think Carl Landry is exactly the same high level of quality offensive player as Kevin Martin, he is a very good offensive player. And, the best low post player the Kings have had since Mitch Richmond. (You can give Chris Webber credit for being a great low post player. He wasn’t.)

Tyreke Evans, for all the things he is and isn’t, is not a gifted facilitator of the offense. It isn’t first and foremost his greatest strength. He’s learning and improving, but he’s not a natural facilitator of the offense like Steve Nash is. He’s just not. That’s neither a criticism or a problem really; it’s just that the Kings need players who can facilitate the offense more than what’s currently happening. As Grasual of StR has consistently pointed out recently, Spencer Hawes is the best passer the Kings have. (This is the same problem the Mavs had when they traded for Jason Kidd in ’08.) This is practically an impossible thing to overcome without more veteran players.

I have said, and will continue to say, that the Kings need to have more facilitators on the floor in order to be effective. One of those players, and I know this will piss off Andy Sims, is Francisco Garcia. Another player who has to learn some of those skills is Omri Casspi. He has the capacity (or tools) but not the necessary mindset yet to put it all together. As playing an 82 game season is less of an issue and more about the effectiveness of his playing, I think Omri can develop that. (That’s more or less what I mean about the Shane Battier comparisons.)

Teams have figured out that the Kings lack the ability to consistently move the ball in order to get quality shots. Teams clog the middle to keep Tyreke Evans from going inside there at will. (For you Stephen Curry backers, that’s the difference. Evans is treated like a Superstar. Curry is treated like a player who has a future in the league for the next 10 years.)

I think it’s worth noting: What are the Kings objectives here? What were they at the beginning of the season? Have they changed?

1) Establish Tyreke Evans. (I think that’s already been done.)
2) Find out about the futures of the other young players like Donte & Omri. (Check.)
3) Figure out a way to make Beno, Cisco & K-Mart work together. (Well, nothing’s perfect.)
4) Get JT & Shawes continue to play their (mostly) encouraging play from last season. (Eh, working on it.)
5) Win 20-25 games at a minimum with the nod to the future

Really, I think that was it. Here is now the goal I think this team has in mind.

1) Figure out how to use Reke’s ability to drive to mesh with the other players and create corresponding ball movement to get those players shots. (I think this works out well to be honest. Sometimes guys hit their shots and sometimes they don’t.)
2) Integrate Landry and JT together as an unit. (I think offensively the Kings would rather use Shawes there, but the problem is defensive rebounding.)
3) Integrate Cisco into the rotation and use his other abilities to help the team. I think the Kings miss Cisco’s fire when the team is slumping. I’ve said it before, but Cisco is far more dangerous on a winning team. I’m beginning to believe that Shawes is in the same boat. The thing is to have the right pieces on the whole deal.
4) Figure out which players are your real core and operate from there. I think, ideally, the kind of starting lineup I’d like to see would be this: Reke, Cisco, Omri, Landry, and JT. That gives you scoring, balance, post play, drivers, shooters and hopefully enough rebounding.
5) The bench should be: Beno, Donte, Shawes and everyone else.

The problem? Some of our young guys aren’t consistent enough yet to be rotation players that change the game for your team. I think, and still think, that the Kings are stuck with guys like Cisco who aren’t ready for those minutes. Omri isn’t ready for more of a facilitating role yet. JT has his moments, and Landry is what he is.

Let’s play a game shall we?

Player A played on a team that won 33 games his rookie year. His team also won 42 games his 2nd season.
Player B played on a team that won 38 games his rookie year. His team then won 30 games the next season.
Player C played on a team that won 20 games his rookie season. His team proceeded to follow that effort with 23 wins.
Player D played on a team that won 28 games his rookie season. His team then won 46 games the next season.

Player A is LeBron James. Player B is Michael Jordan.
Player C is Kevin Durant. Player D is Grant Hill.

So why am I showing you this? To prove that winning teams do not magically sprout out of the ground when a team has just drafted a franchise player. It’s also proof that winning games in this league is not an automatic thing and part of it’s talent. The Kings just simply don’t have enough talent or the right mix exactly to get there. But they can, and the Kings management and coaching staff knows a bit about winning in the NBA. All of those guys have been around enough of it. So while it’s easy to worry about why Dominic McGuire and Ime Udoka got minutes today, it might be that the Kings trying to figure out some things in the interim before players like Omri, Reke, JT, Shawes or whomever else become consistent contributors on a nightly basis. Tonight was simple: Everyone else played well enough. Reke just didn’t, and that’s not always been the case throughout the year.

So, here’s a solution: Fuck your significant other (if you have one), drink or smoke something (or heaven forbid snort or pop something), and chill the fuck out. This ride gets bumpy from zero to hero. You might not want to term improvement in straight wins and losses (even though this team has already won more games than last season which had, for the most part, a veteran roster). R-E-L-A-X, and live with the little shit. Life is too short to sweat the stupid nonsense we all experience on a daily basis. This is even more true when it’s a basketball team. This team has a future and a franchise player in Tyreke Evans. That’s a start that every successful team has. This team has other successful young players on the roster. Or if you need comparisons, you can be like the Minnesota Timberwolves. That may not be encouraging, but most people seem to think the Kings are on their way. Why can’t fans accept the losing now for the promises of a better tomorrow?

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Responses

  1. I don’t really care what Andy Sims thinks if he disagrees with this , but I’d like to follow up on your comments about Francisco Garcia.

    I agree with you that he could be another facilitator of offense…so much so that I’d like to see ‘Cisco’ become as he matures like another favorite King of mine:

    1)Capable of running the point will not being labeled a point guard?check.

    2)capable of hitting the outside jumper?check.

    3)capable of(when his conditioning improves)of guarding on the perimeter?check.

    4)capable of being a leader in the locker room and on the floor?check.

    Ladies and gentlemen:I present to you Francisco Garcia; the current King most capable of living up to the mantle of the former King Doug Christie.Go to it, young man!

    • I was just giving Sims a little shit because he’s known to be a critic of Cisco. No problem there. I like Sims. But, giving him shit where & when I can is one of those little bonuses of life. (Sims is a poster on StR Rhondda.)

      You bring up DC13 Rhondda, and even Jerry Reynolds said that that’s who the franchise saw in Cisco when they drafted him. Hopefully those skills and abilities emerge sooner than later.


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