Installment #4 has me breaking down the match up with the Sacramento Kings and the guest preview for the Kings was provided by Patrick from Basketball Fiend.
Patrick Crawley is a lifelong Kings fan. Managing editor of Basketball Fiend he can also be found on Twitter @BasketballFiend
The Sacramento Kings had a miserable 2008-09 season. So miserable, in fact, that many analysts are predicting the Kings will again be the worst team in the League next season.
I respectfully disagree.
I think the additions of Tyreke Evans and Paul Westphal make the Kings significantly better. More than anything, the Kings needed to add athleticism and stability this offseason. With Evans and Westphal, they achieved that.
Evans may not be a pure point guard, but he is a dominant go-to scorer, something the Kings lacked last season. Not only can he score at will, Evans will also be a major upgrade over Beno Udrih on defense. I think he’s one of three serious contenders for Rookie of the Year.
Westphal, meanwhile, will bring stability to one of the League’s most disorganized clubhouses. After tumultuous seasons under Reggie Theus and Eric Musselman, the Kings desperately need a steady hand at the helm. Westphal brings that to the table, plus extensive basketball knowledge, having coached 7 seasons in the NBA. Despite a 9-year hiatus from coaching, Westphal has been popular with Sacramento’s young core. Kings players, including Kevin Martin, have been raving about him all summer.
Speaking of Martin, he and Evans will shoulder much of the scoring load for the Kings, but expect Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes to get in the mix as well. Thompson has been polishing his post moves this summer and has developed a good rapport with Evans, who will be feeding him down low.
Andres Nocioni, a trade deadline acquisition last season, and rookie Jon Brockman, a bruiser with a broken nose pedigree, bring much-needed toughness to the team. Francisco Garcia is a spark plug off the bench. And Beno Udrih will, hopefully, be more effective as a back-up point than he was as a starting point guard. (I know, I know; wishful thinking.)
The player I expected the most development from this summer was Donte Greene. Unfortunately, Greene isn’t delivering yet on the promise he showed at Syracuse and in high school. He still takes rushed, ill-advised shots and makes sloppy turnovers.
Hopefully Greene will improve as the season goes on. He is an important part of Sacramento’s future.
Ultimately, turnovers and mediocre defense will keep the Kings from being a bona fide contender next season, but if Martin stays healthy they will be far from the worst team in the League.
Last Season Record: 2-0
With or without Kevin Martin in the lineup, the Kings were one of the few teams that actually made the Raptors
look good last season. The youthful roster had struggles of their own and didn’t play much defense allowing the Raptors
to do the one thing they were good at – put up points. Defensively, the Raptors
got to play single coverage helping them to sweep the series.
The Bigs: Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson and Donte Greene are all individually talented players. Hawes has a little bit of Brad Miller in him, Thompson plays with some grit and Greene is extremely athletic. The one thing they all have in common though is they are young and very raw. Defending Bosh
is a challenge for most forwards and he should be able to take advantage of whoever the Kings put on him. Andrea should have an advantage here as well since none of these Kings bigs are regarded to be lock down defenders. Also, this King’s front court is not relied on to carry much of the scoring load, leaving the Raptors
bigs more energy to focus on the offensive end.
The Wings: The addition of Nocioni in a late trade last season does give the kings some punch at the wing position aside from Francisco Garcia. Nocioni is a hard nose defender while Garcia is a streaky shooter who can drop 20+ on any given night. The Raptors
are not that deep offensively at this position either besides Hedo. Even still, Hedo has manged to score at will against some of the better players in the league so having most of the attention on Bosh
should allow him to continue to flourish against younger weaker teams.
The Guards: The Kings’s best player is a guard and he can shoot lights out. Its going to be up to players like Demar DeRozan and Antoine Wright to keep Kevin Martin in check. The Kings also managed to add Sergio Rodriguez to their roster giving them a more dynamic PG aside from Beno Udrih. Calderon
gets off easy against this team because neither of their PG’s are considered to be scoring threats but he still will have to play perimeter D as Sergio can drop a few long balls in a hurry. On the offensive end, the Raptors
should be able to play their usual pick ‘n roll game as Bosh
should be able to get position against the younger forwards making it an easy night at the office for Jose.
Predicted Record: 2-0 (Regressing is NOT an option!)