The Sacramento Kings are once again have one win more than losses. They were over .500 once this season at 5-4, but then lost four straight games. Although most of the games in that stretch were close, they lost four straight none the less.
Since falling three games bellow .500, coach Paul Westphal and his team of young scrappers have pulled together four straight wins. All four wins were hardly close. In the Kings win against New Orleans, seldom used guard Sergio Rodriguez had a break out game. Rodriguez poured in 25 points to go with five assists.
Westphal has been key to the revitalization of a team that was unbearable to watch last year. The Kings coach really knows how to get the best out of what he is given.
With the arrival of Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, and Jon Brockman, Sacramento had attempted to forge an identity. The forging is working. A team that looked very uninterested and disjointed last season has appeared to flipped the switch.
They now play every possession with passion and energy, with all five players functioning as a cohesive unit at all times. Their defense is tough, their offense is patient, and their rebounding is among the tops in the league. Which is a far cry from last season, for everything with this team.
One thing is clear: this years team is nothing remotely close to last years team.
Westphal's team has grit and determination. They play hard every possession and are relentless on defense. He has even begun to bring along Donte Greene very nicely, who had a horrendous rookie season.
Westphal's record is a true testament to his coaching abilities. The former Sonics coach is half way to tying the win mark Kings had last season. Sacramento won 17 of 82 games last season.
It's scary to think how good the Kings can be when they get leading scorer Kevin Martin back and solid contributor Francisco Garcia back from injury. That is, if coach Westphal can find them minutes.
It will be difficult, considering how well Andres Nocioni, Greene, and Casspi are playing. Not to mention starters Evans and Beno Udrih have played well together. Also with the emergence of Rodriguez. There is only one ball and oh so many minutes to go around. Especially when it is between a plethora of competent players.
One thing coach Westphal has done all season is use his bench extensively. So if his early philosophy is indicative of whats to come, a majority of the bench will see some action on a nightly basis.
Some will play more than others, but none the less, the players who want to play and play hard will get the minutes they deserve. Case and point, Brockman, Casspi, and Green. The best is yet to come for this young Kings team. And although a playoff birth is very unlikely, strong play is something that will continue for sure.