It wasn’t pretty, but Kings basketball is back. The team played a sloppy game, to be expected from a young squad with about a week of practice and without its starting frontcourt. You can’t take too much away from the 107-96 loss to the Warriors, but some things definitely stood out…
JIMMER THRIVES – Wow. The Kings rookie looked nice. Jimmer (21 PTS, 7-11 FG, 4-6 3FG, 4 REB, 4 AST) opened the game a little timid, feeling his way around the court. But when he found a comfort level, Jimmer started flowing. You always have to keep in mind the transition Fredette is making — at BYU, Jimmer was a one-man team used to taking over games and carrying his teammates for 40 minutes. He did a great job Saturday night of picking his spots. And one thing that he’ll have no problem transitioning to the NBA is his jumper. Electric. After Jimmer knocked down a few triples in the early going, Golden State started to respect the shot, allowing him to penetrate. We also got to see Tyreke penetrate, draw the double team and kick to Jimmer, something we’ll probably see a lot this season. Defensively, Jimmer got beat by the quick Warriors guards, but he also showed flashes of strong on-ball defense, and he also challenged jump shots very well. All in all, a terrific debut for Jimmer.
NO BIGS — No DeMarcus Cousins and no Chuck Hayes was definitely a problem for Sac. Jason Thompson (2 REB in 32 MIN) and JJ Hickson (1-7 FG, 5 PF) had lots of trouble rebounding and did a poor job of defending the basket. Additionally, Cousins really is the only offensive post presence on the Kings roster. Last year, the Kings had Carl Landry for much of the season to help down low. Without Cousins against Golden State, the Kings turned into a perimeter-only team. Off the bench, Hassan Whiteside is still way too raw to provide productive minutes. If Hayes heart concerns turn into a long-term problem, the Kings might have to look at bringing back Samuel Dalembert.
ISAIAH SHOWS PROMISE — Isaiah Thomas (13 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 3 AST, 3 TO) has plenty to learn about how to run an NBA offense, but there is a good base to build on. Zeke (is that proper?) forced the ball into traffic too much, but he also showed an ability to knock down open shots and his speed was effective. Defensively, he stayed in front of Steph Curry and stood his ground. Thomas looks like the fourth guard for the Kings, and he will really benefit from more playing time, assuming the Kings don’t add another vet.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS — Donte Greene (11 PTS, 4-7 FG, 3-5 3FG) was hitting his shots and that’s a must if he wants to play. For the most part, DG has failed to make strides with his offensive game since entering the league. He needs to show up this season. With Travis Outlaw now in the fold, it’s the only way he’ll earn PT … Tyreke (17 PTS, 7 AST, 4 REB, 5 TO) looked healthy and was back to attacking the basket with speed and power. It will be interesting to see how the ball-handling is divided up between Reke, Thornton and eventual starter John Salmons.