First off, I’m not apologizing for my cynical asshole A) post last night or B) tweets about Tyreke Evans. I meant them; still do. A win against a mediocre (at best) flawed team with more holes than the Kings when they are playing their 3rd game in as many nights, home or not, is not impressive to me. No justification or anything else is going to make it impressive. This is not to confuse an impressive win with a launching pad for this team to turn a corner.
While I didn’t see virtually all of the 4th quarter, I’m not dying to see it. A win is a win and with this team it’s not that hard to know what happened. Reasons to be excited? Perhaps.
* DeMarcus Cousins has had a fairly successful 2 days in Philly and Toronto shooting the ball. His TS% is now 51.9. Not bad for 2 days. We know he can rebound the ball so the 19 boards is not exceptionally unrealistic for Cousins to do many times in the future. Additionally, Cousins ORtg may climb over 100 for the first time in his career. (His DRtg may go slightly lower than the current 103 as well. But I doubt this.)
One good way to measure maturity with Cousins: Jamaal Magloire horse-collared Cousins, and Cousins walked away knowing a flagrant would be called. I’m not even sure he would have been upset if it had been a 2 shot foul. That’s emotional growth in Cousins’ game that is pleasing if you, as I am, are rooting for Cousins to beat some of the odds pushing against him to get better as a player.
The 39 minutes on the 2nd game of a back to back. That has my attention. When has Cousins ever averaged 35 minutes (last night Cousins played 31 minutes) over a consistent span? Answer: He hasn’t. Let’s hope this keeps up.
The most important part of Cousins ascension is that it may drive Tyreke Evans to stop being an idiot on the court and make more intelligent plays. After all, if Tyreke doesn’t keep up he won’t get the star level treatment he seeks. While I don’t think DeMarcus Cousins is the type of player you can build a franchise around, perhaps between Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins talents you have a franchise player between the two of them. The trick will be to surround them with the perfect supporting cast and push each to be better players than each have shown in their career up to this point. (Especially in the mental aspect.)
If nothing else, Cousins is the type of player who emotionally wants that mantle and seems somewhat upset by the losses. While Evans shows little emotion (both in good and bad ways), Evans actions clearly show he is too immature and too incomplete as a player to be fully relied upon at this point.
Why do I say this? Because Cousins stayed on the court, and managed to stay there for 39 minutes without fouling out. Let’s not avoid the obvious here: You can’t be the best player on your team if you aren’t reliable enough to be on the court for 35-40 minutes consistently.
* Fuck Tyreke Evans and his terrible shooting nights. Most of the time with a normal player that didn’t jog back in transition (as Tyreke did tonight), I would let it go.
Tyreke has rubbed me the wrong way in the last 2 weeks and has a lot of work to get on my good side again. Until then, he’s my official shit list. Nobody else need’s to be on it because nobody else qualifies.
Why is Tyreke on my shit list? Well, for one thing, his play is sporadic in the effort department. Missing and hitting shots is part of the deal. Especially if you put up a lot of shots. But a lack of effort or if it comes and goes is not acceptable by any definition. Tyreke Evans has not shown any real tangible improvement in his NBA talents. Everything that he does now he has had since coming into the NBA. At times, he looks better mainly due to health. But better as a NBA player? I wouldn’t argue that at all.
That’s an issue that isn’t going away until A) Tyreke grows up B) DeMarcus takes the “best” player label from Tyreke (and it’s looking like it) and C) until Tyreke realizes A&B happened. Because here is the reality: Tyreke won’t be happy unless he is the best player on whatever team he plays for.
One note about Tyreke that I do find pleasing (I’m a pessimistic optimist after all): Tyreke Evan’s FT% for the season is now an even 75%. After 11 games, Tyreke has now attempted 76 FT’s which is about 6.9 FTA every game. That’s significantly improved over last season where Tyreke was only getting about 4.7 FTA a game.
* Isaiah Thomas raised his TS% from 46.5% to 51.9% after his efficient 20 point outing tonight. (That is worth watching when I get the chance tomorrow.)
It’s been said before, but it’s very likely that Thomas will be seen as the 60th best selection in the modern history of the NBA draft (since 1988 there have only been 2 rounds). Only on one major player has emerged from that low end of the draft, and that name is Manu Ginobili. The other players of note taken that low (like Ben Wallace and Brad Miller) were actually undrafted. Few players selected that low in the draft ever make a roster, and even fewer have a chance to make a contribution long-term in the NBA.
* John Salmons only took 7 shots tonight. Whatever you think about the guy, 7 shots is not a lot. Salmons is currently averaging his lowest USG% since his Philly (1st 4 years of his career) years. Even then, a bit over 15% USG% rate is hardly breaking the bank. Salmons did manage to snag a season high tonight with 3 steals so that is something.
* I hope Jimmer is okay. Whatever is wrong with him can be helped somewhat with some easy shots. Perhaps playing off Cousins could help Jimmer get a few baskets (especially if Cousins is at the high post) so that the two can play off each other. Natural chemistry matters, and Cousins-Fredette clearly have it.
Whatever the case may be, Jimmer’s slow start is just that. It’s not necessarily a sign of a greater problem. I suspect if the team starts performing better so will Jimmer. Call it, oh, I don’t know, a hunch. A hunch with no data or anything else necessarily to base it on. Just a good ole’ fashioned gut kind of hunch. Yanno?
* I’m glad Travis Outlaw didn’t play, Donte Greene has a long ways to go to even be an 8th man, and Francisco Garcia is….something.
* The last few thoughts: The Kings outrebounded the Raptors 48-44 tonight. By my rough DRB%, there were 46 available defensive rebounds the Kings could have grabbed. (The Kings grabbed 34. Toronto had 51 Defensive Rebound opportunities, and grabbed 35. This equates to a 68.6 DRB%. Toronto coming into the game had a 74.8 DRB%.) This equates to a 73.9 DRB% which is slightly higher than league average. Currently the Kings coming into the game were last in DRB% for the entire league at about 69%.
The last important point is that coming into the game against the Raptors, the Kings were shooting the 5th most FT’s in the entire NBA while having the 5th worst percentage. With both Evans and Cousins being notable FT drawers (and Thornton is adept at getting to the line as well), the Kings could easily be in the top half of the NBA in Free Throw percentage and attempts. That’s more points and increased efficiency.
The Kings went 31-34 from the FT line for 91.2%. These type of numbers give you great opportunities to win on the road.
Until later then.