After last night's scintillating loss where a pretty cool answer to a trivia question emerged (Q: Who has scored the most points on Miami Heat in a single quarter this season? A: Isaiah Thomas), the loss to Miami still counts as a L. Tonight, the scintillating and lovely dysfunctional Washington Wizards. A group that makes the Kings, umm, look good.
Both teams are at the bottom of everything you can be at. I'm not going to write the ORtg/DRtg's for both because they are both bottom 5 in ORtg/DRtg.
Required Opponents Reading
It's nearly a week old, but Truth About it has had a running feature on Jan Vesely and things Vesely says to the Czech press.
Sean Fagan of Bullets Forever (one of the greatest blogs in all of existence IMO), has an interesting recap regarding the recent week of Wizards lore. Mike Prada does a breakdown of why the Wizards lack of shooting hurts them.
Michael Lee of the Washington Post talks about the Wizards recent road trip bulding chemistry. (Let me know where you have heard that one before?) Lee, incidentally, is one of my favorite beat writers who covers a NBA team. As you would expect, Michael Lee does a terrific job.
Mike Andrews of Wizards Extreme (Bloguin's Wizards blog) believes JaVale McGee was snubbed from the All-Star contest. I don't care about the All-Star weekend myself (other than it's a nice time off), but if I did I'd agree with Andrews.
Kings required Reading
Beware there is a lot to read here, and there is some duplication of what you have read elsewhere. Nonetheless, you need to read all of it if you have not. Or you will die. Okay, maybe not.
David Stern says yesterday that even though AEG is likely contributing to the arena process, he considers that part of the Kings share. This is not good news, but it could mean nothing in the long run. Until all facts are known, I suggest holding off on what this means. What it certainly means that Kevin Johnson is in for an interesting negotiation session this weekend in Orlando.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today asked David Stern in a long Q&A about the NBA and this question about Sacramento came up:
What of the Kings and plans to keep them in Sacramento?
We're also optimistic — hopeful — that there'll be some strong signal of support by the City Council and the request for proposal responses that will enable them to raise a substantial sum of money … that would enable the (construction of) a new building that would cement the team's future. I expect there to be a very strong sign of that by the end of the month.
Marcos Breton makes the point that because an expected arena would come as part of a long term lease of parking spaces, this drives up the value for the city.
Here is the truly important point:
The most important point made is this:
You hate the feeling that Sacramento is being extorted by the NBA? It's not. Sacramento is in this game because it has something to gain and something to lose. Getting an arena is not without risks, but failing to do so comes with a price.
Without the Kings, you don't have the interest of AEG, the Los Angeles-based arena developer prepared to build here. Without AEG, you have no arena. Without the arena, the downtown railyard continues to sit empty as a testament to community inaction.
Alright? Are we clear? Good. Now onto the basketball related links......
Jason Jones of the almighty buzzing Bee does the expected piece on Isaiah Thomas. 2 quotes I wish to highlight:
"The young man (Thomas) is playing great," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "This is the third game he has started, and we have over 20 assists per game. So the ball is moving around, and it's affecting all of our play. That is a positive."
The 2nd quote:
"If they can get 'Linsanity' into the game, why can't they get Isaiah in it?" Cousins said.
Wanna know why Cuz is so popular in Sacramento? It's stuff like that.
Keith Smart's post game presser after last night's game in Miami.
Isaiah Thomas post game comments. (Hint: He's not happy.)
And a play that looked funky but worked:
Jason Jones discusses why Smart tightened his rotation. For what it's worth, I agree with Smart. Find your core rotation and then figure out who can contribute beyond that. If you're wondering who the core rotation is, that's exactly the problem. There's about 5 to 7 guys you can expect to get what you get from them. Unfortunately that's only some of the time even then.
Jon Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom has a piece on Keith Smart working with Jimmer Fredette. Also, Santiago and James Ham has an excellent podcast with Jason Jones on Monday that is a muste listen for every Kings fan.
If you have not read this DeMarcus Cousins interview with the Sporting News, please do so. This piece from Fox Sports Florida's Chris Tomasson (formerly of the Rocky Mountain News and AOL Fanhouse--another terrific writer) talks about Cousins' dramatic attitude change under Keith Smart.
Stathead Final Thoughts
Not much here to share that I haven't shared, but I realized I hadn't checked Basketball Value in awhile to see how the lineup's were being utilized.
Of all l ineup's with 30 minutes or made, only one has a positive differential. That lineup? Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. Imagine that.
Speaking of perennial Kings fan favorite Isaiah "Lefty Speedy Gonzalez" Thomas (no I'm not giving it up), Thomas currently has a PER of 17.05 which currently ranks 82nd in overall PER in the NBA. (Cousins is 32nd. Evans is 91st.) Even though I don't like PER as a stat and will rarely use it, the average PER according to Hoopdata is 13.67. Right now the Kings have 6 players over that stat (DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson and Donte Greene), and for last year's sake the Kings had 7 players over the average PER. The problem with that? Most Kings were barely over the average PER line except for Beno Udrih. DeMarcus Cousins has gone well above that this season, and will likely see another season or two of growth in this area before he likely hits his baseline career number. That is the good news.
See? I'm not always Debbie Downer.
Tonight is a measurement stick of a "will" game. It's a measurement of an "effort" game. How badly does this Kings team want to win? How badly do the Wizards want to win? Can they? This is the type of game that could set the wheels in motion for a strong 2nd half if the Kings win tonight. It's also the type of game that can break your will after 3 close losses on the road to Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland if the game doesn't go your way. What I'm hoping is the Kings come out with premium effort and not lackadaiscal half ass nonsense they often come out with against teams like the Washington Wizards. Tonight is a big game for both teams, and who wants it more could determine the kind of season each has in the 2nd half.
I for one am scintillated to see 2 of the worst basketball teams with some serious issue's square off in the battle of the least amount of suckitude for the least amount of time. Can you dig it?
The battle royale for the "Greatest Inept Young roster" begins at 4pm PST on CSNCA. Don't be late.