I'm not one to ever put stock into the pre-season for any reason. There are lots of variables. Like, a player playing his first game with a team (a la Dwight Howard with the Lakers), and thus what does it mean? Usually nothing. Tonight had an interesting wrinkle: The Lakers played their starters down the stretch, and the Kings played all of their reserves and DeMarcus Cousins. And, yes, the Kings won.
The key important part is that A) I think the Kings showed they can play with the Lakers and B) the Lakers bench needs a whole lot of help. A whole lotta help even. Whatever it is, fixing that bench won't just be helped by playing with the Lakers starters unless they just play better wholesale any way you slice it.
I don't really care about the Lakers bench though. I care whether or not a pre-season win can establish this young team moving towards the direction they certainly wish to move in. And, I suppose, any positive moment in pre-season that can help this young team along is better than nothing. Beyond that, it still very much is pre-season.
The pre-season proves nothing. It's a tool that helps teams, and I bet it will help the Lakers. Whether you go 8-0 or 0-8, the pre-season isn't real. The games don't matter. Rotations are being monkeyed with. It's really hard to say who gives maximum effort and who doesn't. What I do know is that the Kings are better off for winning at Staples if for no other reason than it's better to win than to lose I guess. Does it mean anything for the regular season? Nope, and it never does. Bank on it.
After the jump the rest of the observations....
- I was pleased with Thomas Robinson's dunk in the 2nd quarter off a missed shot. That was some impressive stuff. You'll see it in many highlights, and the most exceptional part is that T-Rob really didn't need a 10 step launchpad to do it. If you notice, T-Rob's head is at the rim. Not so shabby.
- Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson do well together as a tandem. As backup's, that could be a big boost to this team if Robinson ever nails down the starting spot. In fact, one could argue that having such a varied and talented group of bigs makes the Kings a strong candidate for serious improvement this season.
- Jimmer Fredette looked good offensively in some real ways. He got to the basket, hit a 3, had a nifty layup, and looked more like a NBA player than he had during much of last season. But again, it is preseason and one must note that.
- DeMarcus Cousins is nothing else if maddening. But that lefty driving layup at the end of the game was exceptional if nothing else because Cuz drove with his left and finished with his left.
- Tyreke Evans looked okay at times, and less than stellar at others. Tyreke is feeling his way along, and the quicker he adapts the better this team will be. What it means yet? Who knows.
- Aaron Brooks had a monster game off the bench. If Brooks is anything near that consistently (and he won't be consistently naturally), Jimmer is going to have a tough time getting minutes.
- Marcus Thornton hit some big shots tonight, and managed to hit 4-13 from the field (2-6 from 3) and went 5-5 from the FT line. That's something, and yet, I like Marcus as a 6th man for that reason.
- Hamady N'Diaye came off the bench and gave some minutes that were worthwhile to the Kings tonight. I wouldn't make the claim that N'Diaye is anywhere near a roster spot right now, but things can change I suppose. For a 5th big man, I could see the Kings rolling the dice on N'Diaye.
- Francisco Garcia played relatively well, and Travis Outlaw didn't play relatively well. Strangely enough, Tony Mitchell, the big invitee to camp, hasn't seen many minutes this pre-season. Whatever that means, it might mean that Cisco and Outlaw are showing enough to make the Kings think that using a roster spot on a project like Mitchell isn't worth it.
- Isaiah Thomas and James Johnson were what they were. They didn't play incredible or terrible or much of anything really that mattered. After all, it is pre-season. Plus Brooks had it going for awhile, and Jimmer got quite a few minutes too. All in all, Isaiah will play plenty of minutes. As will Johnson, but tonight wasn't that night. And that's okay.
- Despite the Lakers getting 19 points from the FT line (19-29), the Kings outscored the Lakers by 2 at the FT line because they went a perfect 21-21. Treasure that folks: We might not see that again all season. (And I'm hoping I'm really wrong.)
- The Kings turned the ball over 13 times to the Lakers 22 times. That's something, and that's important. If the Kings can continue to shoot well from the FT line on the road, and not turn over the ball excessively (13 times is an excellent number on a consistent basis), that could be a significant recipe for more success on the road this season than in recent years past.
- Here is the Box Score in case you care about such things.
Just in case you didn't know, the Kings play tomorrow (Monday night) in Phoenix at 7pm PST (the game is not on local TV), and Thursday against the Lakers in San Diego at 7pm PST to finish the pre-season. The season starts a week from Wednesday on Halloween, October 31st, in Chicago against the Bulls. This season just might be something interesting after all which may be the best news we could have received from pre-season.
Until later then.