Preseason Preview and Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Darius Soriano —  October 19, 2012

The Lakers’ preseason tour continues tonight, this time in Las Vegas against the Kings. The Lakers are still looking for their first win of the preseason while the Kings are….uh…(google search)….2-1 but coming off a loss to that preseason juggernaut Warriors team.

For the Lakers, they’ll still be without two-thirds of their big man rotation as Dwight Howard still isn’t ready to play (but will be Sunday, maybe) and Jordan Hill isn’t yet cleared for contact while recovering from his own back issues. The good news is that Pau Gasol will play this evening so at least four of the Lakers’ starters will be in the line up tonight.

On the reserves front, everyone is available but sorting out who will actually play is another story. Last game Douglas-Roberts and Johnson-Odom saw to no time in favor of playing Goudelock, Morris, and co. Meanwhile big men Ronnie Aguilar and Reeves Nelson also saw heavy minutes. Of course some of this is related to injuries (and the fact that Pau sat out to rest) and doesn’t really mean that much beyond not giving fans the consistency in lineups that they’d like to see.

Ultimately, though, this will change soon. Within the next week, we’re sure to start to see cuts and the rotations will normalize. But that’s for a later discussion.

Tonight, the Lakers face an intriguing young Kings team that is looking to finally put together years of lottery picks and become a player in a crowded Western Conference. This past June they selected Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, a do it all forward that can play down low while also showing talent to play high on the floor.

He’ll be paired in the front court with DeMarcus Cousins, who seems ready to take the leap into one of the best young bigs in the league with head coach Keith Smart guiding him. Cousins shows a complete game — including being one of the best offensive rebounders in the league — and must only start to better finish at the rim before he’s just a total beast.

In the backcourt, the Kings remain a work in progress but do have some bright spots. Second year man Isaiah Thomas had a nice rookie year running the point and hopes to build on that bright spot of a campaign. Marcus Thornton offers real scoring punch on the wing and can get buckets from nearly any spot on the floor once he gets going. And Jimmer Fredette is also starting to find his comfort zone more, not looking as overwhelmed this preseason as he did last season.

The real question mark in this group is Tyreke Evans. The former rookie of the year is entering a make or break season for the Kings. His game, for all intents and purposes, has progressed only marginally from his superb rookie campaign and the Kings need more from him if they’re to take the next step as an organization. A lot is riding on him improving, not only his future (he is seeking a contract extension) but his team’s too.

Tonight, though, it’s the preseason and these are storylines to monitor as the year progresses. So, sit back and enjoy the game. Hopefully, on Sunday when these two teams face off again, we’ll have something “super” to look forward to.

Darius Soriano

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47 responses to Preseason Preview and Chat: The Sacramento Kings

  1. Roberts backing up Kobe tonight.

  2. Offense not looking good.

  3. Wow 26% again?

  4. Too much goudelock, not enough CDR..

  5. The Yankees would have loved .260

  6. ReignMan: Goudelock finally shows a pulse makes a 3 Brown took him out next possession. He can’t get in rhythm that way.

  7. Our offense looks pretty garbage – even when the starters were on it just seems like everyone is just running around with no decisiveness

    Nash is also not being used well and will have a hard time guarding guys off screens

  8. Shawn

    Been saying that.

  9. Agreed. Nash thrives in the PnR and MB ran none of it early.

  10. Don’t get mad out there but this is 3rd game in a row Nash has looked very average. 3 more turnovers p, 4 kast game and His shooting not good.

  11. Lakers look more fluid tonight on offense when playing to players strengths. Nash PnR, Pau post ups, Kobe off ball movement, Ron looks light years ahead now of where he was last year in preseason.

    Princeton offense doesn’t look good so far. Teams are jumping the passing lanes and the constant dribble handoffs are doing nothing.

  12. Did Steve Nash just make a lefty sky hook?

  13. These are the starters? 19 to 4 fast points and losing on boards. This Sac team could be 2nd worse team in NBA by the way.

    Yea it’s preseason I know.

  14. Gotta admit that I am pleasantly surprised with Nash’s defensive awareness. I just assumed that he would get abused a la Fish, but he has quick hands and plays the lanes well.

    I can’t wait to see what this team looks like with Howard on the floor. They really seem to miss that defensive presence that he can bring. (And that ‘Drew brought to some degree.)

  15. 5th turnover Nash.

  16. I think sac actually could have a decent team – think 3 good bigs – cousins, Thompson (underrated), and Robinson – decent perimiter players – evans, Thomas, thorton, Brooks who can all drive amd create their own shots amd then have some added depth with salmons, fredertte, and Garcia

    No break out player except for maybe cousins but overall a deep team with NBA talent

  17. Kobe in midseason form talking trash with the whole Sacramento Queens team!

  18. Good news is the last time Lakers went winless in preseason was 2001. I think they won title that year.

  19. Lakers paid the vet minimum not for Jamison but his hologram. I hardly notice when he’s on the floor.

    Lakers are competing which they didn’t do the first 4 games. Lots of positives tonight and that does include Blake not seeing the floor.

  20. Sacrebleu! I’m liking the hustle by everyone in this quarter

  21. although thornton is somehow shooting like 80% right now

  22. My gosh Steve Blake is just terrible. Shooting, TOs, defense. Who the heck is gonna be back up PG?

  23. it’s about damn time is an expression i use when it’s about damn time. i’m talking about finally being able to watch a laker game, albeit a preseason game on twc’s sportsnet live.

    eastbound 60 fwy at diamond bar was closed due some traffic fiasco this morning. someone telling me at restaurant alvarez that accident was probably caused by someone on their cell phone no less. in less than three hours i made it to future wifey’s house and lo and behold, laker nirvana.

    then reality set in, the 2nd half of lakers vs sacto began. seems like i was watching in slo mo. feeling mixed emotions because of the elation of viewing what seemed like an eternity and dealing with the fact the lakers are in constant catch up mode. doesn’t look pretty. whatthe the heck? it’s preseason and based on comments i’ve been reading these past several days, these results are to be expected: growing pains.

    mike brown calls time out, walks over to steve blake and you could read his lips, that’s ok, come on; which is in reference to steve blake’s turnover. seems magnified with each steve blake error doesn’t it? score: 91 sacto; 85 lakers; 4:15 to go.

    still anyone’s game to take. let’s see who steps up.

    dinner time. gotta go.

    Go Lakers !

  24. Rooting for Ebanks to have a breakout year. Loved that guy since last year! Hopefully his preseason success will carry over.

  25. See a comment saying “these are our starters?” when Dwight Howard isn’t playing. See a comment saying “Nash shooting is not good” and he shot 3-4 from the floor. See a comment that says “Nash with 5 turnovers” when he finished the game with 4. It’s one thing to get mad at things that are really true. It’s another to get mad at things that are entirely made up.

  26. Ko: Goudelock. I’ve flip flopped but no more. He brings more upside there.

    Sacre played nice post defense tonight, Jamison continues to be a slight presence rebounding, MWP and Ebanks will be better than last year and Brown has really done nice with PnR defense. Same rotations and the defense has been playing on a string so far. This is the best they’ve looked.

  27. I meant same rotations about the defense. I haven’t seen visible breakdowns defensively that Lakers had all last year. Just giving up too many off. rebounds and fast break points so far. Hill and Howard should help in one of those areas the other may just be a weakness.

  28. Ebanks in the starting lineup over Metta just makes so much sense.

  29. Sort for those Horrible mistakes. They didn’t give Steve a TO for the pass off Metta fingers which might have been 5th. His shooting prior to this game was under 40% but he looked better tonight.

    As for you starters comment I guess Dwight is your answer. I guess with 4 starters against the worst team in the West I expected more. If you get Time Warner you would have heard Worthy say the exact same thing especially when it was 28 fast break points.

    But I guess James also dosen’t know what he is talking about. I base my comments on the eye test and stats. Seems you are going out if your way to critique my comments Darius. Just curious, did you watch tbe game?

  30. Cleaning up turnovers and missed easy shots should be a top-shelf priority for us. Naturally mistakes like this feed other teams’ transition O, which they’re finding we have trouble with. Younger, more athletic teams can use this to build leads in a jiffy and put us in a hole, which we seem to have trouble digging out of.

  31. Ko

    I’m willing to bet that adding Dwight to our lineup instead of Sacre will do a heckuva lot for our defense, rebounding (which will slow down opponent’s fast breaks) and our offensive rating. When you add Hill back into the mix as our primary big off the bench, then I claim that our problems will be solved.

  32. Yes, I did watch the game. I also heard Worthy and Dave Miller’s comments. I respect both guys but both also seem frustrated by the losses and that led to them nitpicking preseason without a lot of context to how much Howard really matters to this team; to how much he can change the dynamic of the team on both sides of the ball. We all knew he wasn’t going to play and even the most optimistic opinions about the team said it would take some time for the team to mesh together and that would be *with* Dwight in the fold. So, I’m not sure what the expectation is for this team w/o him. Not to mention Hill and how that throws off the rotations.

    As I’ve said several times before, I’m not against calling out the team for not playing well. I’m against not providing context to why they’re not playing well. At times this team will need to be called out for something, I’m sure. But, as I’ve maintained, the preseason when 2/3rds of the top three big men are not playing should put things into perspective.

  33. Ebanks was Trevor-esque tonight. Looks like he worked on his game in the off-season and added a 3pt shot to his arsenal.

    And if he even comes close to reaching his Trevor Ariza potential(it ain’t that high), how good would this Laker team be?

  34. Something I noticed.

    The passing windows for some of the cuts tonight were narrow and required precision passes. A few passes got through for easy buckets, others resulted in a turnover.

    This should improve over time as the passer and cutter adjust timing and positioning.

  35. Ko, I think it’s pretty fair to assume that plugging Dwight (our best player on the roster by many metrics) and Hill (our best back-up big) will have a significant effect on the way these games play out. How many easy layups did you see Sacramento make tonight? How many reset possessions when the Lakers bigs couldn’t hold down the rebound? No offense to Sacre, who is exceeding expectations and playing with a lot of heart, but he is our Mbenga. When that is Dwight, it seems safe to assume that he will finish a little better around the rim (if not so much at the line…)

    Potential positives to take from tonight: Pau, Kobe, Nash, and Ebanks all shot over 50%, and collectively they took 41 of the 77 shots attempted, converting at a rate of 61%! Ebanks finally seems to have picked up some 3 point range, which should make every Lakers fan excited – he was just wet ball in the 4th quarter. And down 4-8 pts is hardly garbage time. Metta had a really nice game even though he didn’t shoot well, with 8 boards, 3 steals again, and a block. He and Antawn actually had the best +/- on the squad tonight 🙂

  36. Hope Ironman can safe the world. Clearly I am old and Dumb. I can remember when Kobe, Pau, Artest and Fisher with no center would kill teams like Sac and Utah. Any time and day.

  37. I found out today that the NBA League Pass Broadband service will black out Laker games, because Time Warner has the exclusive broadcast rights to all Laker games, ugh. Apparently though the audio function would be available, but that is not good enough for me. And, it looks like ATT U-verse does not want to spend the money so that the Los Angeles Lakers would be available on their network. This situation just sucks.

  38. Ko: I share some of your concern. We’re used to seeing Kobe and Pau impose their will on games and go on those 20-4 runs but we don’t anymore they can only trade baskets. Last year they could never turn it up a notch they only had one gear very noticable in the Okc series. Dwight is as advertised and should turn this team from good to great.

  39. Am I missing something? Or, is this preseason with a veteran squad? Veterans know that no matter how hard they play in preseason…the games do not matter! Criticism will be warranted if the Lakers start the season with the same effort.

    My concern is how hard the rookies and 2nd year players play the game. They are the ones attempting to make a name in this game and they are the ones that are supposed to carry the veterans in meaningless games or against teams that the veterans find hard to ‘get up’ against. Second games of back-to-backs and games against Toronto on long road trips are where the Lakers will need players like Ebanks, Sacre, Hill and (any pg other than Steve Blanks) to win games.

    Nash will not look 100% comfortable with this team until late November or there about. Players that joined Phoenix adapted to Steve Nash but in Los Angeles, Steve Nash is learning to play with the Lakers. He has not forgotten how to be a pg and his shots will fall when he understands instinctively when and how to insert his offense with the Lakers.

  40. Some food for thought: Do you really think Kobe and Pau will not play 4th quarter of regular season games? You really think the Lakers will play with Kobe, Pau, Dwight and Nash on the bench all at the same time? NO and NO.

    They could have easily won this game, but to prove what?! The dynamics of this team is different from others in a sense that you see other teams playing rotation guys, starters or rookie studs in the second half and 4th quarters of these pre-season games. These guys are ‘trying out’ for a rotation spot and playing time. Our team has a set rotation already for the top 8 players (Kobe, Dwight, Pau, Nash, MWP, Hill, Jamison, Blake). So basically the rest of the players are just playing for one meaningful rotation spot (that is also basically reserved for Ebanks and Meeks). If you are keeping up that is 10 spots already. Then Duhon, Clark, CDR who have years under their belt are playing for the end-of-the-bench-see-some-action-once-in-a-while role (that’s 13 and counting).

    The only guy you would really want to follow in these pre-season games are Ebanks (getting better), Meeks (up and down), Duhon (not enough action) CDR (maybe). Then there are the surprises (Sacre) who will AT BEST, be the 12th guy who will only see garbage time, and some D-League action. Comments here are sometimes downright funny (Sacre needs to do this to be a contributor) to the absurd (This team will struggle, we are 0-5 in already and can’t beat the second worst team in the league).

  41. Ko,

    I don’t want to pick a fight, but here’s an observation. You often resort to very extreme statements and claim they’re based on your “eye-test and stats.” Yet very often you cite misleading or incorrect statistics and people disagree with your subjective assessment of the team (often refuting with evidence). The two stats you claimed tonight, for example, were absolutely wrong: you said that Nash turned the ball over 5 times and that he has shot 40% from the field prior to the game against SAC. Both claims were factually incorrect. Nash only had 4 turnovers this game and his FGM/FGA was 10-20 prior to this game, 50%. And the eye test? Nash has opened up plenty of offensive opportunities (4 APG) while playing decent defense, averaging 1.2 SPG in 21 minutes.

    Readers regularly read posts where you flip your wig after a turnover or missed shot, and plenty of posts where you make up statistics to prove your hyperbole. You don’t see how that might be frustrating for readers of this site, trying to have a discussion with someone who makes up numbers and exaggerates every claim? My advice, crack open some Dom Perignon and chill:)

  42. People should not be surprised when Nash has a few turnovers. Steve is a brilliant passer/creator with outstanding court vision, but his style is very much high risk/high reward. While his passes often lead directly to buckets, if the precision is a little bit off or the defender makes a read, then you lose the ball. Some games this will happen more than others – it’s the nature of the beast. But this is also part of what makes him such a compelling player to watch.

  43. I’m shocked that people are getting antsy. Do people know that Dwight Howard isn’t playing? That he’s the 2nd best player in the league? That he took a very average Orlando squad into the finals? That he is the best defensive player of his generation and a required double team every time he touches the ball?

    We will be allright fellas…

  44. Thanks Kareem you are correct. I do get work up to often. 40 years of Laker fan can do that. Should have checked my facts. Big Nash fan and Should never complain about him.

    As for Dom no thanks. I own a Italian Wine Import Company and have 400 different wines and beer from around the world to chose from but seldom drink.

    Bad enough sober. I will mellow by opening day.

  45. To repeat from the other day: last year, I was against the “let them play some games” argument since the talent was short.

    Not the case this year. MWP looks pretty good so far; maybe Ebanks will do better. Meeks is just OK but last year going into the season Kobe’s backup was Kapono. The issues would be the same at 5-0 and 0-5: backup point guard, health, questions about Mike Brown.

  46. @matt #35:thanks, those are the sort of helpful comments/observs for those who missed the game