Indiana Pacers @ Sacramento Kings
Wednesday, December 2
10:00 PM EST
Five things to know about the Kings.
1. As discussed earlier, Tyreke Evans has been sensational. 18.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.5 apg and 1.3 spg along with 44.6% from the field. Who does that as a rookie? Some people will claim he is really just a combo guard masquerading as a point, and his shot selection as well as his not-ready-for-primetime jumpshot have been been negatives at times. But he has definite playmaking ability and can run the offense in lieu of calling his own number. Chris Paul and Steve Nash he is not. Think closer to Derrick Rose and Tony Parker — a point guard who will hurt you more with penetration than anything else. Plus, Ben Udrih has been playing high-caliber ball so far this season. And trust me, that previous sentence is something I never thought I would type.
2. The Kings, a team many predicted to finish with the worst record in the NBA, are now 8-8 overall and a silly 7-2 at home. The Arco Arena crowds might not be full or back to CWebb-era levels of uproarious. But much like Oakland the other night, Sacramento is once again re-gaining its rep as one of the tougher places in the league to play. And if the team gets off to hot start this evening, expect the fan noise and energy to become a factor.
3. The Kings have been doing all this overachieving without the services of Kevin Martin, the team’s best player over the past three years and a guy who could be considered the Danny Granger of the Western Conference. Both play on teams that garner almost no national interest aside from their individual scoring abilities. Both are long-range assassins. And both are guys who continue to get praised by those who don’t follow their teams closely (i.e., most people) even when they’re scuffling. Look, I know Danny has been having issues with first his heel and now his knee. And I’m more than aware of how poorly the offensive “talent” surrounding him has been for most of this season. But none of that is reason to hoist up nearly 9 three-point attempts per game — especially when you’re not even making them consistently. This was discussed in more depth earlier today, but it bears repeating. Get to the hoop more. It will be glorious.
4. Sacramento looks a little bit like Indy in its front court in the sense that they have some young, inconsistent bigs with promise. I liked Jason Thompson last year, but I wasn’t positive he would develop into NBA starter material — at least not this quickly. Well, he certainly looks to be more than capable of manning the PF spot in Sacto these days, piling up double-doubles and even throwing up the occasional eye-popping 22/14-line like he had the other nigh against New Orleans. Spencer Hawes, on the other hand, has been good, but shaky … sort of like Roy Hibbert. It’s always troubling to see a guy put up 24/9 one night and then only 4/5 the next. But he is still only 21 and terms like “Brook Lopez-level upside” have been thrown around. Is he still evolving at a steady pace? Watch for that tonight. They also have another guy named Jon Brockman, who is a fan favorite throughout the Great Northwest after playing college ball at Washington, but I’m not even sure he is worth caring about at this point. Just and energy/hustle guy, who probably won’t hurt the Pacers tonight. If he does, Indy might have more problems than I thought.
5. The Kings made headlines when they drafted Omri Casspi this summer, making him the first Israeli-born player to ever play in the NBA. That was a great story to hear, sure, but I never figured this guy could actually ball. Not like this anyway. Turns out, however, that he’s beyond solid. Love his game and, at only 21-years-old, he has the presence and demeanor of a six-year vet. His future looks bright long-term and, in the short-term, he is also having a big impact. He can do a lot of those tough-to-define things that Mike Dunleavy does in terms of facilitating fluid motion and creating offense. And he can also call his own number. From what I’ve seen, Omri should probably be a bigger part of the Kings offense. Let’s hope it doesn’t start tonight.