Sacramento could have been at 2-1 if not for a sluggish third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers and an equally slow start against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. But this is not the game of ‘almost’. Sacramento takes on the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena. That game will tell us a lot more about this team’s character following a loss.
We’ll also see if this young team, fresh off an extensive overhaul, can protect its home court. Fans still have much to learn, but we can draw some conclusions based off of the team’s first three games.
Jimmer Fredette is getting zero minutes as he should. Listen, I like the guy. He’s a class act and has shown an occasional knack for hitting the three, which is why the Kings are dangling him for trade bait. Unfortunately, this is a game of ‘what have you done for me lately?’ and Jimmer has done jack squat. Ben McLemore is much better suited for action than Fredette. Kudos to coach Michael Malone for putting the hammer down on this non-issue.
Isaiah Thomas has outplayed Greivis Vasquez thus far, and I totally buy any talk of the little man taking the starting job from Vasquez. However, Thomas has been absolutely deadly off the bench, so I also buy any talk that he should stay on the bench. Either way, this is a great problem to have for Malone and it will be interesting to see which angle he takes on the matter.
Ben McLemore had his first breakout game, but it still ended in a loss. McLemore had it going Saturday, posting a career-high 19 points after finishing with a total of six points in the first two games of the season. McLemore has already made many forget all about Jimmer and has officially thrown his hat into the Rookie of the Year race. Though a win in that race seems a long shot, any consideration will be a boon for the Sacramento and their offense.
The city of Sacramento has shown up at Sleep Train. The Clippers’ broadcast crew remarked that the noise was absolutely insane in that second half, adding that the crowd’s energy was incredible. With back-to-back sellouts under their belt, the Kings have firmly turned things around for the better and improved the fan experience. Winning games would go much further toward a full turnaround though.
Travis Outlaw has really shown he has something to prove. He looked fired up in preseason against the Clippers and looked equally impressive against the Warriors, notching 15 points 12 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Outlaw has really given Sacramento great minutes to start the season.
Even with its much ballyhooed sign and trade acquisition of Greivis Vasquez, the Kings still rank near the bottom (23rd) in assists. The Kings did not extend an offer to Vasquez by Thursday’s deadline, but maintain that they would like to keep him via an extension in the summer. The assists and Vasquez will need to improve — and fast.
Sacramento had its first blowout of the season. Unfortunately, they were the victims and not the ones dishing it out. The Warriors showcased their much more polished product, running away with the game on Saturday night. Many talking heads and writers alike say the Kings won’t get anywhere north of 31 wins this year. With more losses like the one on Saturday, they may be right.
Jason Thompson finally showed up Saturday but looked timid at times. He had one of the bigger plays of the game against the Denver Nuggets with a thunderous put-back that came late in the fourth to preserve a Kings win, but has looked outmatched in following games. While I dismiss the notion that Patrick Patterson is playing better than JT, I do think Jason is struggling to get into a rhythm with Sacramento.