Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 27, 2010

The art of mastering deflation

If you read any Kings fan comments anywhere on the Web, you hear a lot of disappointment and frustration. This 10-11 edition of our beloved dipshits has succeeded in doing one thing: Making the bandwagon babies (and some not so bandwagonish) driven crazy by the lack of success. If it wasn’t so frustrating to watch blowouts on national TV, I’d be pretty amused by all this. But, I’m not amused. And, neither should be anyone. Hence the problem: How do you constructively create an argument that is subjective and objective enough to make sense? The conundrum is you can’t satisfy everyone every time. It’s always impossible to achieve that. If you want to create a running team with high octane offense, but one that gives up near the same amount of points, then you’re going to have fans who complain about the lack of defense. (Cue, well, lotso’ Kings fans.)

If you want the team to be entertaining, well, you’ve lost out too. (Chances are you were complaining about the lack of defense too. We’ll get to that in a bit though.) Because now the team is playing a grim version of defense it isn’t actually suited to play, the team is not playing with the passion and purpose it was when they were mostly offensive — literally and defensively — for half of the games so far.

People had raised expectations, and that’s why they are disappointed. Raised expectations are fine, but let’s be honest: They are ill-advised. With a team that is young, with a team that doesn’t have a perfect core (and this is becoming more & more evident each & every day), and a team that has it’s entire operation under fire. Is anybody safe in the Kings organization anymore? I wonder if the fans can fire the Maloof’s and get a more rich, more doesn’t give a damn what it costs owner. That would be pretty cool! If fans can make Paul Westphal focus more on defense (because Paul Westphal isn’t really that interested in defense you know), we can also fire the Maloof’s and tell them to go back to Vegas and make that casino of theirs profitable! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!1!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course that isn’t the way it works. The Maloof’s own the majority of shares in the Kings organization, and as such it’s ultimately their choice on whom to fire and hire. It doesn’t matter what Geoff Petrie’s views on defense or offense are: It really matters how the team performs. Do I think Geoff Petrie has dropped the ball and given up on getting defensive guys? Not really, but I don’t think you can build a perfect team with all young players. It’s a 5 year process, or so, that takes time (and a lot of requisite frustration) and patience. I can tell you this all I want, but until you get it it makes no difference.

One of the reasons I’ve commented less at Sactown Royalty (and written less here), is that I’m tired of saying the same thing over & over & over & over. I’m not surprised this team has started poorly, and with Tyreke’s injuries it’s even less of a surprise. You factor in the newness of Dalembert (and the fact that you’re playing 4 on 5 with him offensively), and the struggles of Cousins and there you go. So when you factor in the bitter apocalyptic state at StR (and let’s be honest; it’s everywhere else too), it’s getting rather burdensome. It isn’t fun being a fan of a team playing poorly, unevenly, and with serious roster issue’s. It’s even less fun when you aren’t sure of the future of the young players on the team. Or, it’s not as fun with so many people so badly down on the team all at the same time for reasonable (and mostly unreasonable) reasons.

This is where I point out that 2 of the most salient points have come from Mr Ziller (about Chauncey Billups–whom I would agree with and rather than writing something lengthy here, just point out that I agree with TZ’s take on Billups at this point), and Section214’s writeup today about how older Kings fans have been here before. I am one of those, and while I don’t hold it against the younger (or newer) fans who believe that this current stretch sucks, guess what? This is rebuilding! Welcome to the mindfuck of having young players learning on the job in an unforgiving harsh environment for any young player to become successful in.

I’m not going to waste your time and say I’ve really been through a crappy Kings lineup of the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was too young and too removed from that era. I lived through the 97-98 team very well, and it’s always stuck with me that Corliss Williamson (whom I have the utmost respect for as a man) was a role player on successful teams and a quality scorer on a 27 win squad. When you see this type of scenario play out again & again, it’s like deja vu with different names and faces.

So, let me point out something about the Oklahoma City comparison. Let’s talk about Scott Brooks and the incredible job he’s done. I agree, he’s done an incredible job. He earned the award he received last season, and the amount of room he’s given Russell Westbrook to grow into the teams sidekick has been instrumental in OKC truly jumping up the win chart. But let’s be honest: It didn’t happen overnight either. You can talk all you want about the changes Brooks made as a head coach during the 08-09 season as an interim guy, however, it’s not always that simple.

Brooks was 22-47 in his first season as a head coach for a 31% winning percentage. Paul Westphal last season was 25-57 for a 30.5% winning percentage. This season at 3-10, he’s now at a gaudy 28.6 winning percentage.

You say there is no way PJ Carleismo could be worse? Et tu Brutus? You sure about that? Check out this ridiculously putrid head coaching job: He was 20-62 for a 24.4 winning percentage in the Sonics last season in Seattle. The next season in OKC, he lasted a whole 13 games with a comically low 7.7 winning percentage.

This Kings team isn’t that bad, and whatever the excuses are (talent level, schedule), the fact is that the Kings players aren’t tuning out Westphal. PJ Carleismo playing Kevin Durant at SG remains the dumbest thing I’ve seen a head coach do all of the last decade (and there have been some dumb decisions out there but that remains up there at the top), and it was for defensive purposes. Nevermind that Durant up to that point of his rookie season had always been a combo F who was an offensive genius, but Carleismo was worried about defense. Talk about ridiculously utter stupidity. So what did Brooks do? Anything anyone who was remotely connected to Carleismo’s tenure: Put Durant back in his natural position and let him do what he did. This wasn’t an Oscar Robertson/Jerry West situation where they played F in college (or Dwyane Wade for that matter), and then because of lack of size for the NBA level to play the same position, to go to the backcourt. That’s the reality here: Carleismo was given every chance to succeed and still couldn’t.

Paul Westphal is not doing the same thing with Tyreke Evans. I don’t really care what you call Tyreke: I’m not interested in the PG/SG label. I don’t think it really matters. Tyreke is a G and at his best scores on his own matchup’s and creates shots for others. That’s Tyreke’s job. Tyreke’s job isn’t to be John Stockton and Allen Iverson rolled up in one. (Although, some fans think that’s the case.)

Tyreke’s injuries are playing a part, but I think it’s more a mental issue combined with his struggles to deal with how defenses have caught on how to play him. The NBA has caught up to him (better now than later), and he has a lot of adjustments to make. Not coincidentally, fans are frustrated because they expect him to make that leap yesterday and fuck tomorrow: He might not be in Sac to make that leap.

I’ve said it before about the arena situation: I think it’s a strong factor in the hysteria. I see a lot of people with the vibe of: IF we don’t win games and keep butts in the seats, we’re going to lose the team. I doubt that is the case since it’s perilous at this point the Kings stay there. It will take a Kevin Johnson miracle above and beyond what’s happening with the baby Royals at Arco. That is my opinion anyway.

One problem with Paul Westphal that I don’t like (this is where I’m going to jump off the Westphal bandwagon a bit) is that he has changed his message a bit. He’s not consistent in his message. It’s hard for me to believe in a message if the head coach keeps changing his mind. The fans aren’t the head coach of the Kings; Paul Westphal is. In essence, fuck what the fans think. Fans pay the money, but the head coach coaches the Kings. I don’t think this team is built to play effective defense with effective offense. It’s more like the other way, and one reason the team has become more grim is that they’re forced to play a style that doesn’t suit them. When you add to the mix that there isn’t enough differential talent beyond a few guys creating a clear pecking order within a rotation, it’s no wonder Paul Westphal doesn’t really have a grasp on these players. Nobody has a grasp on what’s going on. Clear & utter chaos has happened because many of these young players don’t get it yet. This happens, yet there is a belief that some of these guys should be kept as part of the core before they’ve established themselves. When a player establishes himself, than he is a part of the core. Until then, it’s on the player to show the burden of proof that he is that player. Fan belief, hell organization belief is important (duh!), here matters, but really offers no insight in what the organization will do.

I still believe that tightening the rotation and trading a few young players away for a veteran player (like Prince or Billups) would be the most beneficial move the Kings could make because there are too many young players without a clue how to play effective NBA caliber defense AND run a high caliber NBA offense. Just because a young player has potential (like JT or Donte) doesn’t mean that if you trade him for a NBA veteran, and that player goes on to success down the road, means that trading for the veteran was a mistake. This team needs a different mix of veteran savvy and youth than it currently has. If you trade Jason Thompson and Donte Greene for Tayshaun Prince (hypothetically speaking–pick another player if you fancy someone else please), it doesn’t mean the trade fails for the Kings if Greene or Thompson become All-Stars in Detroit. There’s no guarantee that holding onto a young player for 6 years that he will grow up and develop into that All-Star. That’s the problem with so many fans: They don’t get that aspect of it. Players need new situations and talent on a team. It’s quite possible that JT & Donte will always be what they are for the Kings today. Holding onto them with the expectation that they could give you more than a veteran that will help the other younger more valuable players is complete crap.

I’m not a fan of Debbie Downer all the time: If you want to talk about how Will Solomon sucks than I’m with you. But harping again & again & again & again & again about Tyreke Evans’ complete weaknesses is a broken record. It’s gotten old. Very old. He was this coming out of Memphis. It was always going to take time to adjust to a NBA superstar level of play for him. And, surprise, it’s not easy. Gee you know, it should be easy for every young player to become a NBA superstar overnight. It’s amazing that every young player doesn’t conform to the expectations of every single NBA fan every time. I mean how dare Tyreke Evans struggle with the expectations of demanding frantic fans who believe they will lose their team as soon as next year? And how dare he, at 21 years old no less, not become everything John Stockton was by the time Stockton was 30 years old? Tyreke Evans has so much nerve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you don’t prefer to look at my POV, fine. I’m not digging my head in the sand or ignoring that Tyreke Evans is struggling. I think Evans’ struggles are mental, and the physical side is only adding to that burden Evans’ is carrying. He’s learning how hard it is to become that first tier player in the NBA. It isn’t just improving your jumper or passing the ball more. It’s figuring out how to get guys easy shots enough times throughout the game while maintaining your offensive attack at the same time. It’s learning how to accept that defenses will pack the lane on you your entire NBA career in ways that you couldn’t fathom when you were 19 and leading Memphis to 30 wins in a row. It’s learning that everybody you go up every night has a game plan for your offensive talents and that being strong and quick isn’t enough just to get up a quality shot attempt up.

I’m not going to play Debbie Downer as some have elsewhere. I don’t mind that fans are frustrated; I find that there would be something greatly wrong if they were enthused about a joyless young struggling team. It’s hard to find hope when things are bleak. I’m not a fan of the Kings because it’s easy or joyful at all times. I remember when times were bleak just a few years ago. I remember the euphoria after the 35 pt comeback (that I witnessed in one of the worst sports bars all time–in Sacramento no less), and I remember the devastation after the Kings losses started mounting up from January on during last season. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s a process. The head coach has to come up with an effective plan (and I think Westphal has tried but because of the inconsistency of the players, in part, has had trouble settling on one plan–which is a mistake in the long run because it lacks faith), and the players have to buy in and perform this. Whatever Westphal’s plan is, not all the players are buying in because either A) they can’t or B) don’t want to for other reasons.

I want to see competitive spirited basketball. In the Knicks loss, I saw that. Yes, a lot of points were scored, but I don’t consider that a big deal. I was hoping the Kings could outscore their opponents to a .500 record because, otherwise, I don’t think the team ever has (or will have with this group) had the ability to play staunch enough defense to stop another team consistently. Especially when you consider that the Kings have to sacrifice much of their offense to do this.

Right now, it’s not very fun being a Kings fan. Some were expecting a strong start and a flirtation with the playoffs. I was hoping that would be the case, but I know rebuilding teams can take awhile too. It’s disappointing this team has played so poorly, but it’s also not impossible. It could be that this team figures out some things here in the next week and then takes off and flirts with 500 while playing a tougher schedule. This team has the talent to play with every team in the NBA. The young guys just don’t get how to pull that feat off, however. At the very least, they haven’t shown that up to this point.

I would like to see competitive 48 minute basketball. I’m not going to say well played because well played means victories. I want to see that too, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s just too unrealistic at this point.

I know some reading this will disagree. That’s fine. Just know that your bitter sarconic attitude means I don’t want to discuss this team with you any longer because, frankly, it’s boring. Just because you criticize Evans’ lack of passing or Westphal’s rotations doesn’t mean your making some kind of hard hitting need to know point about the Kings. It doesn’t actually say anything other than stating the obvious. There isn’t many constructive solutions being thrown about (with the exceptions of changing the mix with veteran players) by many of these “downer” people. Or at least nothing that I see as being constructive anyway. (Certainly none of these downer people have come close to getting me to agree with them.) I know fans will disagree, and sometimes with derision and attitude. I’m fine with it. It’s just gotten old (which is hypocritical of me I know–just roll your eyes with how dare “you of all people criticize ridicule and derision”–to which I respond: Don’t care) because all the complaints have amounted to is: I’m mad cuz the Kings are losing. Don’t act like your on some moral high ground because your mad.

Sigh. Writing this shit over & over again sucks. Can we agree on one thing? We’d all be happier if the Kings won.



  1. Well bro. I normally disagree with mostly everything you post “all over the net”, but this time, I think we’re both on the same page.

    As a “REAL” Kings fan, times are tough for sure. There is definitely more bad, than good, happening on and off the court. Mr. Westphal’s Bi-Polar-ism methods of coaching are becoming more and more apparent as time goes on. Then again, as you stated above, maybe the Kings are just really, really, really young. So regardless of Coach, they are where they are, because that’s where they’re supposed to be. Did that make sense?

    Anyways, I’m definitely not switching favorite teams all of sudden. I was born and raised here in SacTown. And the Kings have been my favorite team since the late 80’s. This Kings fan has weathered through worse than this before.

    In closing… Go Kings!?!?

    • You’ve been a fan longer than I have koolaid. (Not sure who you are on StR or elsewhere.) Having said that, we’ve both weathered worse.

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