The Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets opened the 2013 season, possibly heading in opposite directions. The Kings hope the development of a number of talented young players, plus some tweaks to the roster, will push them over the edge and out of the lottery. The Nuggets, meanwhile, lost their most established player in Andre Iguodala and last season’s Coach of the Year, George Karl.
The first things we learned are with the big men. DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins proved that he can be as maddeningly dominant as ever. Boogie went off for 30 points and 14 rebounds, and the hope in Sacramento that this is not the continuation of his inconsistency, but rather that this is the year that his effort matches his talents and he takes over as the league’s best center. And yes, that includes a healthy Dwight Howard.
At his best, Cousins has Howard’s penchant for rebounding and Andrew Bynum‘s touch around the rim. There is no reason why a dozen years of All-Star nominations and championship contention should not follow his career. On the other side, Javale McGee proved he is still nowhere near where his skill set should leave him. The high-flying McGee could only hang with Cousins for 10 minutes, when he accrued four fouls, a turnover and made just two of five shots.
We also learned that though they dealt black hole Tyreke Evans, the Kings still have trouble moving the ball and playing as a team, as five of the 10 players who saw action did not record a single assist. For comparison, Ty Lawson had eight assists by himself, while the entire Kings’ roster accounted for just 13.
The Nuggets’ new-look roster will feature a heavy rotation of free agent signees J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur, Nate Robinson and Randy Foye, all of whom logged 18 minutes or more in their Nuggets’ debut.
Though it is much too soon to take much stock in the first game of the year, there are some developments to take note of, as, come the end of the season, these two teams may very well battle for the eight and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.