The shortened NBA schedule could be promising for the young Sacramento Kings roster to sneak into the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The first game of 2011-2012 is in the books and is indicative of the potential of this Kings team. The Kings pulled out a victory at home against Los Angeles and exposed their strengths and weaknesses in 48 minutes.
Marcus Thornton scored 27 points and drives the heart of the Sacramento Kings offense. He missed several wide open three-pointers in the first period but still showed the confidence to shoot through the negative streak. Tyreke Evans was challenged to shoot from mid range and showed his improvement in that area. John Salmons drove to the basket often to help keep the defense off guard.
Toughness is going to be a weakness all year for the Kings. Chuck Hayes got pushed around a lot on Monday night. Outlaw is a liability at his position though his athleticism will allow him a few transition basket opportunities.
The biggest upside for the Kings is the backcourt and new addition Jimmer Fredette. Fredette played within the team system and created his own shot on several occasions which is a main concern. He thought through his possessions and found a few great opportunities to score efficiently. With this young Kings team shooting well from the perimeter, they will be tough to beat and defend while spreading the floor.
Weaknesses in the game included defensive rebounding, perimeter defense and consistency. Too many turnovers also plagued the fourth quarter which saw a 15-point lead evaporate in minutes to an attacking Kobe Bryant. Still, the team was resilient enough to win which will be a constant test through the 66 game season.