10 Takeaways from the Sacramento Kings' 1st NBA Game of 2011-12
Power Band Pavilion was a packed house, and the arena brought memories reminiscent of the glory days when the Kings were actually good.
This was a solid win, and there are many things that we can takeaway from it. This team is young, exciting and very capable of doing big things.
Jimmer Can Play in This League
Jimmer Fredette was solid in his 26 minutes of play off of the bench. He ended up with six points on 3-of-8 shooting, with most of the misses coming in the second half.
He was very strong in receiving contact while shooting the ball. Although he was hesitant on shooting the deep ball that we were so accustomed to seeing in college, he did allow the Kings’ offense to have great spacing.
We also got to see a lot of Jimmer playing the point, where he set up Cousins on a beautiful bounce pass. He ended up with three assists, and it looks like we might have a future point guard on our team.
The biggest question concerning Jimmer was if he could play some defense, and he seemed balanced and very capable of moving his feet. Although he was guarding the aging Derek Fisher, Jimmer did keep Fisher in front of him. He played adequate defense in this game, and he's strong enough to guard the players in this league.
It's a great thing that Jimmer will be coming off of the bench, as he has Evans and Thornton in front of him to learn from. I expect him to score a lot more once he feels comfortable in this offense.
Marcus Thornton Is a Deadly Shooter
Marcus Thornton was the best player on the court tonight. The starting shooting guard was 9-of-13 for 27 points, including a clutch three late in the fourth when the Lakers were making their comeback.
Many feel as though the Kings had overpaid for Thornton’s services, but looking at the numbers, it seems as though the Kings got a bargain. He is an efficient shooter and does not force shots.
When watching this first game, I noticed that Thornton has a “give-me-the-ball” mentality and isn’t afraid of taking the pressure shots. He is going to win a lot of close games for this team, which is something this team lacked at the end of games last season.
Evans Needs to Be More Assertive
Everyone assumes that Tyreke Evans is the main guy on this team after his stellar rookie season, but I am not so sure.
During this game, I never saw Evans wanting or demanding the ball, especially at the end of the game. He deferred to Thornton, and this cannot happen if he believes that this is his team.
Evans needs to be more assertive as this season progresses because he is the star of this team. He has so much ability to get to the rim and is able to do what he wants on the court.
He continued to fade out towards the sidelines, watching his teammates attempt to do something with the ball as the shot clock was winding down. Evans needs to get the ball during these times and look to create.
He needs to realize that this young Kings team will need him to be the leader and take over games on certain nights.
Westphal's Rotation Was Solid
I hope this game was a positive sign of things to come with coach Westphal's rotation.
He gave the starters adequate minutes and utilized his benched very well, with rookies Jimmer and Isaiah Thomas giving solid minutes at the guard positions.
What we saw a lot of last season was the different starting lineups every night. The starters from tonight's game seem like a lock for the whole season, as every starter provides something that this team needs.
I also like the fact that Westphal chose to give minutes to Travis Outlaw instead of Francisco Garcia and Donte Greene, who were both non-existent. Outlaw provides energy and hustle without ever needing the ball in his hands.
My wish for the Kings' next game is to have the same starting lineup, because it was simply perfect against the Lakers.
There Was No Black Hole at the Black out
Although the Kings only had 16 assists against the Lakers, I did see a lot of positives with the effort to move the ball.
Evans, Thornton, Hayes and Fredette each had three assists, which is very solid for all those guys. There was solid movement as the guards were setting screens and rolling throughout this game.
What I would like to see more is for the guards to feed Cousins a little more in the post, as he can be dominant on certain nights.
The Kings will look to continue the ball movement, and if they can improve on this facet of their game, then this team could be deadly.
The fans were all dressed in black at the arena to show their support for the black out, but the Kings team tonight was no black hole.
Where Was Jason Thompson at?
Jason Thompson only played six minutes tonight? Thompson is a legitimate rotational player that can provide solid defense and energy off of the bench.
Coach Westphal kept the big man rotation of Hayes, Cousins and Hickson, and I was really disappointed that Thompson was not a part of this tonight.
There was also some shots of Thompson clearly not happy during the commercial breaks, and I am wondering if this will cause some drama during the season.
It really is a shame for Thompson, as he is a promising young player who is very versatile. I hope this game wasn’t a sign of things to come.
Chuck Hayes Brought Leadership
This young Kings team calls Chuck Hayes the old man of the team even though he is only 28 years old.
The newly-signed 6’6” starting center for the Kings brought his grit and toughness tonight, and he continued to keep Pau Gasol off balance on offense.
Watching the game, I could see Hayes telling his teammates where to be at on defense. I can already see that his leadership is going to be the biggest asset for this young team.
He continued to keep Cousins in check throughout this game, and he's the mentor that Cousins definitely needs.
Chuck Hayes’ leadership makes this team five wins better.
Cousin Knows How to Use His Body
DeMarcus Cousins is starting to understand how to use his big body.
He continued to bully his way in the paint for offensive rebounds, and you could clearly see that Gasol was frustrated by Cousins' aggressive play.
His offensive rebounds were crucial late in the game when the Lakers were making their comeback. He grabbed several important rebounds off of Kings’ free-throw misses that put the nail in the coffin to eliminate any late-game heroics by Kobe.
Cousins has the makings of being one of the best big men in the league with his size, soft touch and ability to want to grab some boards.
Kings Actually Played Some Defense
Being a Kings fan my whole life, I don’t think I had ever seen the Kings ever play great defense. Tonight, the Kings actually looked really solid in spurts throughout this game.
The biggest reason why the Kings have improved on the defensive end was Chuck Hayes’ presence, as he was directing everyone on where to be. He also provided great help defense when the guards were outmatched by Kobe.
DeMarcus Cousins also seemed focused and motivated to play defense in this game. If he can assert his size and tenacity on the defensive end every game as he did against the Lakers, then this team can be scary.
There were times when the Kings lost their man when the Lakers started to move the ball, and these lapses will happen, but for the most part this team was motivated to slow Kobe and Gasol on offense.
This Team Will Compete for an 8th Seed
This young Kings team can score with the best of them, as they have shooters to spread the floor, solid bigs that can score down low and a team that is learning to play defense.
The West is currently weak and there will be a lot of teams competing for the last few playoff spots in this shortened season.
If the Kings play like they did against the Lakers every night, and have a more assertive Tyreke Evans, then I have no doubt that they will nab one of the playoff spots this season.