I feel a bit, um, odd praising a team for their summer league play but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Overall, it was an impressive display by the Kings, even by summer league standards
Rookie DeMarcus Cousins played a wonderful all around game in his first “pro” action. Cousins put up 14/10 in 26 minutes of floor time, but more impressive than the statistics was his overall feel for the game. Cousins routinely had crisp passes from the post to cutters as well as very nice outlet passes, something you didn’t see much of during his time at Kentucky. That might have actually been the most impressive aspect I saw in his game today. In addition to the passing, Cousins impressed in the post as well as on the boards – there was literally nothing to complain about. He does have a bitch of a hitch in his shot, but that will easily be fixed with a few weeks of repetition in the gym. Once fixed (and Cousins/Evans progress), the Kings will absolutely dismantle teams with 1/5 screens. Scary good. Scary. Cousins also might have added the highlight of the game, a powerful put back dunk that rocked the basket back and forth for a few moments, sending the summer league crowd into a frenzy.
Speaking of talented big men, the Kings second round draft pick Hassan Whiteside also impressed during his 27 minutes. Whiteside, while still very raw, was all over on the defensive end swatting five shots and altering many more. Whiteside did a tremendous job on weakside defense help and there were multiple times the Pistons avoided the paint due to Whiteside’s presence. With all of that said, I’m not opposed to sending Whiteside to the D-league for a while as he’s going to struggle with the knowledge of what to block and what not to. He’ll be prone to goal tending calls and he tries to swat EVERYTHING, so, he leaves his position on the boards….but even so, it appears Whiteside has a long future in Sacramento (Also, Joe Maloof was interviewed during the game and said the Kings seriously looked at drafting him 5th overall. Pretty high praise…).
Omri Casspi and Donte Greene both played well despite both having slow starts. Greene took a Greg Monroe elbow to the nose moments into the game, resulting in multiple jersey switches (due to blood) and tampons shoved in his nostrils. Greene finished strong on the offensive end however with 11 points in 18 minutes.
Casspi also finished strong after his slow start, but it was clear throughout the game that Casspi’s main intention was to focus on his new style of more aggressive play, something that the Kings staff has been preaching to Casspi since late last year. Casspi appeared confident and very much in control throughout the game, continually getting into the paint attempting to draw fouls and get to the the line. His penitence to drive also opened up his shot as Casspi finished with 16 and 5 in his twenty minutes.
Summer league invite Tyrese Rice had a very solid offensive game going 5 of 8 from the floor for 15 points but Rice might have ruffled a few feathers with his ball domination. The only time I saw Rice pass was out of a forced situation. It’s understandable that he looks to score – that will get him noticed, but, he didn’t look very solid when it came to running the team.
Jason Thompson’s younger brother, Ryan Thompson had a great game, be it in limited action. Thompson went 4 of 5 from the field and continually outworked and out-hustled the Pistons to rebounds, loose balls, and off the dribble in his 18 minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit to see Thompson on the Kings D-league team or even make the final roster spot out of camp.
Last but not least, new Kings guard (who was signed to a non guaranteed contract the other day) Donald Sloan had a solid game even though his statistics say otherwise. The converted (I guess) point guard only shot 1 of 5 but ran the team well and continually put pressure on the defense despite the shots not falling.
Sacramento – 97
Detroit – 68
Player Of The Game: DeMarcus Cousins
Highlights via KingsFlix:
DeMarcus Cousins slama-jamma: