Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  April 7, 2009

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5
Records: Lakers 61-16 (1st in West) Kings 16-60 (15th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.5 (3rd in league) Kings 105.8 (25th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.6 (6th in league) Kings 114.5 (30th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Kings Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Andres Nocioni, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes

NCAA Pool: Congratulations to Wildyams 09, who won the first ever FB&G NCAA Tournament Pool. He gets the shirt and the chance to lord it all over us for a year.

The Lakers coming in Really fascinating work up today at Basketball Prospectus done by Kevin Pelton that shows the Lakers play at one of the fastest paces in the league. We sort of already knew that — by “traditional” pace measurements the Lakers are sixth in the league in pace.

Now, bear with me for the paragraph about statistics. (If your eyes just rolled up into your head, just go check out the latest Machine video.)

The NBA chooses not to make possessions an official statistic, so there are estimation formulas out there. The formula distinguishes between “plays” and “possessions” and the easiest way to explain the difference is this — if Sasha takes a jumper and misses, but Gasol grabs the rebound and passes out to reset the offense, that is considered a second play but still part of one possession.

But what about teams that are good at offensive rebounding? They will appear to play at a statistically slower pace than really is happening. So, with the help of, Pelton put together how long it takes, on average, a team to get their first shot off (or turn the ball over or get fouled).

Do that, and the Lakers actually are tied with Golden State for fastest in the league, at 11.5 seconds for the first action. That validates what we see with our eyes, at least to me. The Lakers still do get some fast break baskets, but even in the half court the movement tends to start early — the ball goes into Gasol and cutters move and often there is a fairly quick pass or shot. The Lakers rarely are jacking up shots to beat the clock (especially compared to a couple years ago).

However, on defense the Lakers tend to slow other teams down (Golden State, not so much). The Lakers are forcing other teams to go deeper into their offense, which is good. What was interesting is that Cleveland was tied with Golden State for letting teams shoot fast, but the Cavs are a good defensive team — they seem to rush teams into bad shots.

Bottom line, you should read the entire article.

The Kings Coming In: Speaking of things you should read — Sactown Royalty. If you are not reading Ziller (there or at Fanhouse) you are missing out on some of the best NBA writing anywhere. Not to mention the pretty graphs.

Ziller talks about just how good Kevin Martin is — he is on his way to a third straight year of averaging 20 PPG while having a true shooting percentage above 60%. Jordan did it four times. Kareem is the all time leader at 11. The list of efficent high-volume scorers is interesting, and the fact Martin is on it says a lot.

But Martin is not expected to play tonight due to an ankle injury.

This is not the same Kings team that gave the Lakers fits earlier this season — gone are Brad Miller and John Salmons. And good riddance. They are now counting on the guard play of Martin and Francisco Garcia, with the young Jason Thompson and Nocioni in the frontcourt. And they have a different coach. The team has basically changed everything except cities… wait, I shouldn’t be giving the Maloofs ideas.

Keys To The Game: There are a couple guys that could give the Lakers trouble — Beno can drive the paint, Garcia can shoot the ball. Nocioni is can hit a jumper and is strong going to the hole if you let him. McCants can bomb away from three if you let him. Spencer Hawes can score if you leave him alone.

The real issue for the Lakers is focus. What is left of the Sacramento team just isn’t very good, the only very good they have is injured. They don’t have guys good at creating for themselves let alone others. They try to compensate with a fair amount of off-the-ball movement. That can be stopped with communication and focus.

Also, the Kings are not a good defensive team. Worst in the league. Run the offense and the points will come. (This could be a slump-buster night for the bench. Let us hope.)

The Lakers should — should — take care of business. They should have ice on the knees of the starters by the fourth and tonight it should stay on.

But we said that should happen two nights ago, and it didn’t. This is an NBA game and you can’t just walk out there and win.

Where you can watch: 7 pm start out West with the game on KCAL 9.