Pre-Game Jitters: Kings

I’m really worried about this game.  The Kings are a heck of a team.  No, seriously.  In two quick drafts, the Kings have gone from being one of the worst teams in the league, to becoming a playoff contender for years to come. Tyreke Evans appears to be a budding superstar, in the mold of Oscar Robertson. He’s averaging 20, 5 and 5 in his rookie season.  Those are holy grail numbers for a veteran.  He’s a rookie.    

23rd pick Omri Casspi has also been a huge surprise, and is making a big impact at small forward.  He’s shooting 47% from three.  As a rookie.  Holy Cow.

And Jason Thompson, selected one spot ahead of Anthony Randolph, already appears to be one of the best young power forwards in the game.  He’s averaging 15 and 9 this year.

The Sacramento Kings are no longer pushovers. They and the Memphis Grizzlies are this season’s OKC Thunder.  Memo to the league: Watch Out!

(But please don’t send that memo to the bookies.)

Matchup Madness:   I was about to write that Anthony Randolph on Jason Thompson was the key matchup of this game.  After all, Randolph has looked more like bowling pin than bowling ball in his recent matchups with Kenyon Martin and Kevin Love.  And Jason Thompson has had his way with him so far in their young careers, laying 20 rebounds on his head in pre-season.

But then it hit me:  Could Nellie switch Biedrins and Turiaf to Thompson, and put Randolph on the much less dangerous Spencer Hawes in the middle? Hmmm.  It’s so nice to have chess pieces.  Whichever way it comes down, the Warriors need their big men, and especially Randolph, to come up big on the boards.  Like Portland, the Kings have a huge size advantage at the wings over the Warriors.

I was about to write that Monta Ellis against Tyreke Evans would be other key matchup of this game.  Ellis is the Warriors stopper, who always takes on the other team’s best player.  Right?

But then it hit me:  Could Nellie switch Maggette to Evans, and Monta Ellis to Omri Casspi?  Sounds crazy, but just might work.  Maggette has the strength to keep Evans from posting up, and Casspi might be uncomfortable attacking the much quicker Ellis.  Nellie was quoted as saying that the next time he plays Portland, he would like to put Maggette on Andre Miller, to keep him out of the lane.  This looks like an even more urgent case for Maggette to me.

The Warriors are a somewhat surprising -3.5 home favorites in this game. True, the Kings have lost four straight. But that was largely due to losing Evans to an ankle sprain, and a brutal stretch in the schedule. You can bet they’ve circled this game, and will be bringing the heat. And Evans is back. He put up a frightening 27, 11 and 7 in his last game against Phoenix. Oscar, is that you?

The Warriors, on the other hand, are coming off two road “wins,” and playing some pretty decent ball. Curry looks like he’s ready to become the Third Musketeer of the Big Three.  And Biedrins almost looked like Biedrins in the last game. Almost. Hmmm. If my teeth would stop chattering, I would take….

Brother, I have no idea.

I’ll be at this game with my pals Ben and Theresa, and the whole GSoM crew. It’s GSoM night!  Woohoo!

7 Responses to Pre-Game Jitters: Kings

  1. I’ve had this game circled for a long time. The Kings are a distant second in terms of interest and support for most GS fans. It will be an excellent opportunity to contrast two extremely differenty rookie PGs, each are viable Rookie of the Year candidates. The reality is that Curry still plays like a talented kid in a mans game and Tyreke is a man amongst men. I’d love to see Curry rise to the challenge and put on a Denver like performance. Plus, I’d like to see them avenge the loss earlier in the year at Arco Arena.

  2. In the West this year, other than the Timberwolves, there are no easy opponents. I just hope the Warriors have a healthy roster when they get to play the Least, er, I mean the Eastern Conference. Just to show that I am a nerd, I have a couple NBA fantasy teams and in both I drafted Tyreke with my last pick. He’s a big reason I am the big dog in both. He’s a beast and will be fun to watch for years.

  3. Feltbot,
    I can’t let you slide on this one. Tyreke is putting up very good numbers for a rookie; he looks like a future all-star, but he’s a long ways still from HOF stats, and even further from Oscar. Big O’s per game averages in his 1st 2 years in the NBA:

    1st year: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists
    2nd year: 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, 11.4 assists

    As for the game, the Warriors can win if they remember to play as a team. The Kings have a lot of young talent, but their record reflects their difficulties in learning to work together.

  4. Thanks for those stats petaluman, definitely eye opening. I wonder how well they translate to today’s game though. I remember bill simmons saying something similar about wilt and shaq.

  5. Oscar was 3rd in scoring both years, 1st in assists both years, but “only” 9th in rebounds in year 2 (12.5 rpg). Even if everyone’s numbers were inflated, that’s still pretty impressive – these are all NBA rankings, not rookies only. FWIW, assists are probably easier to get nowadays.

    In his 1st season alone, he was named NBA Rookie of the Year, was elected to the All-NBA First Team, and was named the 1961 NBA All-Star Game MVP. He was significantly better in year 2 – 25% improvement in rebounds, breaking the single season assists record by nearly 200. Tyreke is a fine young player, but Robertson redefined the game.

  6. It is a different game now, different rules, more athleticism, and players enter the league younger. It’s not apples to apples. There is only one Oscar his time is etched in the record books. Tyreke is the real deal but still not a complete player.

  7. Probably not the place to point this out but the Blazers beat the Lakers in Portland tonight for the ninth straight time. Free throws LA-10, Portland-39. Sounds like whatever dynamic rears its head when the Warriors play in Portland also shows up for the Lakers. Hmmm.

    Hope you had a great time at the game felty, Warriors win!