Scouting Report: Sacramento Kings
After a stressful offseason that included uncertainty about whether the team would stay in Sacramento, as well as ownership issues, the Kings were as ready as anyone for the NBA season to begin last week.
Sacramento opened with an emotional home win over the Nuggets but have dropped the past two. Both teams will be looking to get to .500 tomorrow night and build some early season momentum.
DeMarcus Cousins has been the man for Sacramento. He’s averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds, and he’s simply a monster inside. He continues to get better and better, and his physical strength on the interior is something few teams can match. He also leads the team in both steals and blocks, so he’s very active defensively as well. The 23-year-old does have a tendency to get frustrated when things aren’t going well for him, so Atlanta’s best bet to contain him might be to get him out of his rhythm early. Easier said than done.
The only other consistent scorer through three games for the Kings is Isaiah Thomas, who had a neck-and-neck competition with Greivis Vasquez for the starting point guard spot this summer. Although Vasquez appears to have won that battle (he’s started all three games at PG), Thomas has actually played more minutes and has 30 more points through three games. Thomas is shooting 50 percent, a terrific percentage for a point guard, and he’s even better from downtown at 55 percent so far. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but still something to keep an eye on.
Of course, we can’t sleep on Vasquez either. He had a triple double against the Hawks when New Orleans won at Philips Arena last February.
Ben McLemore, who miraculously fell into Sacramento’s lap at #7 overall in the 2013 draft despite being arguably the best player on the board, is a remarkable talent. He is currently coming off the Kings’ bench but is getting about 20 minutes a game. Much like he did in Summer League, he’s still struggling with his shot, but as we saw in our Summer League game against him, he can take over a game if he gets going. It’ll be fun to watch him develop over the next few years, but don’t sleep on him Tuesday night.
A few things I noticed in just looking at the stats:
– The Kings have only assisted on 50 of their 99 field goals so far. That tells me there’s a lot of isolation and one-on-one basketball happening, which is good for Atlanta because the Hawks have had some trouble on rotations when the ball is moving.
– They only shoot 40 percent. If the Hawks can make them take contested perimeter jump shots, they will probably be successful defensively.
– This is an opportunity for the Hawks to put the Lakers loss behind them and get back in the win column against a team that seems to be struggling offensively. We’ll see how Tuesday goes.
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images