I think the title, as I always try to do, says it all. But let's move back a bit for a moment. There are other things to notice here first.
About a month ago I repeatedly wrote tweets about Tyreke Evans and how ridiculously awful and terrible from just an effort level Tyreke was performing at. That's disappeared. Which is good because I was getting tired of trying to think of creative ways to lobby for Keith Smart to shoot grenades at Tyreke everytime Reke would jog back in transition. That said, Tyreke is making an adjustment he wasn't willing to make under Paul Westphal, and, not surprisingly, isn't very successful at the adjustment Keith Smart has asked of Tyreke Evans. Part of that is that Evans has not really understood that every team in the league knows he can get into the paint, and that there is only so much good defense by one individual can actually accomplish on his lonesome. Tyreke's issue's are not really about whether he passes too much or too little. Tyreke's real issue's are whether or not Tyreke understands the right read and progressions that are happening, quite often, in just a split second. Can Tyreke make that adjustment? We don't know, and we won't likely know that much about it by the end of this season either. I do know that Tyreke Evans can be a better player than the one that has shown up for a large chunk of the season, and has the capacity to improve in all the real weak area's of his game. None of that will happen unless the decision making improves however.
DeMarcus Cousins has shown incredible progress in a month under Keith Smart. Better attitude, some monster rebounding, and some real issue's remain. The one thing that Cousins has done with Keith Smart is established a relationship pretty quickly which is nice. If there is any player that can ensure the revolving door of coaches ends, it's DeMarcus Cousins. The thing about Cousins that has my eye is the minutes he plays under Smart has gone up. Cousins averaged about 26 MPG under Paul Westphal for the 6 games Cousins played. (Ignoring the 1 game Cousins did not play of course.) Under Keith Smart, Cousins has averaged about 30.5 MPG every night.
Marcus Thornton was super efficient in part because he didn't get the ball far too often during the 4th quarter. (I'll talk about that further below do trust.) But, Marcus Thornton has been Marcus Thornton under Paul Westphal, and now Keith Smart. The biggest thing I think the return of Thornton from injury illustrates is how much competiveness Thornton has and why it's so important to this team. Thornton is not the perfect player next to Tyreke Evans, and we know that. However, perfection is now what we are talking about here. This is not a championship team or anything near a 500 team yet. Let's be honest here: Marcus Thornton can help the Kings get to 500, and that's a far more important hurdle for this team right now than worrying about potential "success" down the road.
Jason Thompson has shown remarkable amounts of growth becoming a more reliable post player, a tremendous defender (one of the 3 best the Kings have on a night in night out basis right now), and a quality energy guy the Kings can rely on almost every night he is out there.
Jimmer Fredette is a rookie, and Jimmer is struggling with the speed of the game. This happens.
Fans, and media, love Isaiah Thomas, but what makes Isaiah Thomas so incredibly important to this team is that he always wants to make a play regardless of what's there. The desire, the ability to push the pace, the need to change the pace and tone of the game is what makes Isaiah such a valuable player despite how few NBA games Isaiah has had.
I love the Chuckwagon too much to ever mutter that I'm greatly irritated when Chuck makes an undefensable play. That said, Chuck Hayes is an integral part of this Kings team due to his leadership and veteran presence on defense.
Donte Greene has played better as of late which is a pleasant surprise. I've said many times I think he will end up being better as a stretch 3, but if Donte proves me wrong? I'll be rather glad. Not for any one particular reason or anything, but because Donte will have found a way to hang onto a career where most players in Donte's situation tend to wash out by now. If Donte can figure out a way to be more effective, than dribble driving that is, on offense while being the designated defensive stopper, Donte Greene has the talent to carve out a 10 year career without a doubt.
Keith Smart is clearly showing that a new head coach was needed not only from a new voice perspective, but one that comes with an outsider perspective from how the franchise had been operating. This development in particular has been a welcome change, and I don't care if it's Keith Smart providing it. Right now, I'd fire Geoff Petrie for hiring a caretaker head coach to secure his legacy, but I'm not the one in charge.
Okay that's pretty much all I gotta say on that part. Now onto the game.