DeMarcus Cousins made an early holiday grab for the nut bowl of one Dallas Maverick, O. J. Mayo. It was the highlight of the week, really, eclipsing the miserable play by the team on its 3-game road trip through the mid-west. Had Mayo not been such cry-baby, running to officials, it probably would not have come to anyone’s attention. I must have watched that video at least five times before I actually saw what happened. Mayo was all over Cousins, yet there was nary a word from the official who was watching the whole thing. Cousins tried to push Mayo off of him, but Mayo came back to grope him some more.
Games played this week:
Game 20 Monday, December 10 Kings @ Dallas, Loss 96 – 119
Game 21 Wednesday, December 12 Kings @ Milwaukee, Loss 85 – 98
Game 22 Friday, December 14 Kings @ Oklahoma City, Loss 103-113
Player of the Week:
Isaiah Thomas surprised everyone with his amazing performance in the second half of last night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He went into some kind of intense scoring mode to try to get his team back into the game. He was the high-point King’s scorer with 26 points, in 15 minutes on the court. Let that soak in for a minute. He made 10 of 13 field goal attempts and 4 efficient 3-point shots. Not only did he show in 15 minutes of play on the court what he is capable of bringing to his team, I think his performance last night also calls into serious question Coach Keith Smart’s use of him this season.
- Okay, maybe I made light of the Cousins fast-hand groin jab, but I think way too much was made of it, especially when Mayo was the one to precipitate the situation and the official did nothing to stop it. It is pretty clear the NBA has issued a zero tolerance for any of Cousins’ transgressions, as he does not get the benefit of the doubt. When did the NBA decide to make him their whipping boy? It encourages players to provoke him to get him out of the game. Ostensibly, it limits his game, if he has to always worry about having a foul or technical called on him.
- Seven-year veteran, Francisco Garcia, got a career-high 7 3-point shots on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. He started in place of Tyreke Evans, who was out with a sore knee. He also received 25 points, tying for team high points, and 3 blocks.
- Keith Smart got a bit of a respite from the flurry of criticism last week when the team enjoyed a three-game win streak at home. Those criticisms returned this week following his starting lineup of John Salmons, Aaron Brooks, Jason Thompson, Francisco Garcia, and Travis Outlaw, when Tyreke returned from his time off. The obvious questions being that he chose to bring Tyreke in off the bench, while he had Outlaw start. Just a horrible starting line-up to begin a game. Second, many people have questioned his handling of Brooks, Thomas, and Jimmer Fredette’s minutes.Thomas’ performance last night only adds to that conversation, seriously questioning why the coach seems to be limiting/hampering Thomas’ time on the court.
7 W – 15 L (.318 win-loss percentage)
After the feel-good three-game home wins of last week, this week has been a let down; a week when the Golden State Warriors beat the Miami Heat in Miami, another reminder of where our team should or could be. Our neighbor rivals are thrilled watching their team rise above the bottom. For us, this was not the week we had hoped it would be. Heck, this is not the season we hoped it would be. It is very frustrating to be a Kings fan today, especially when there is no guarantee of tomorrow and the progression of the team has been slower than most of us hoped.
I have concerns about the overall competence of Keith Smart as a head coach.
I believe there are three essential qualities of a head coach:
- Understanding principles of learning and knowing how to effectively communicate what he wants from his players;
- Developing appropriate relationship with his players.
A head coach needs have his own vision about how he wants his team to play. It isn’t something he gets from a book; it is something he has learned and acquired from his own experiences, developing a cognitive map in his head. Next, he needs to know how to effectively communicate his vision to his players. He has to have a good understanding how players learn, how to break skills down into component parts to help a player learn something new. Last, he has to have a good relationship with his players, which instills their trust and respect. An example of the three qualities can be seen in former Sacramento Kings’ coach, Rick Adelman.
Rick Adelman had vision, an understanding of how to communicate his vision to his players, and developed the trust and respect of his players. Adelman is the kind of coach who can take a group of players, work with their weaknesses and strengths to have them play better as a team than their individual parts would predict. In contrast, Smart has a group of talented players, who appear by most accounts to be playing beneath themselves as a team.
I have some doubts whether Smart has a clear vision of what he wants. He says he does, but he hasn’t demonstrated that. As fans we often find ourselves scratching our heads trying to understand the reasoning behind many of his rotations and substitutions. While he looks to stats, often his use of them seems to guide him in his choice of rotations, rather than offer feedback. Second, I doubt whether he knows how to effectively communicate his ideas to his players. If he did, he wouldn’t be throwing his players under the bus saying they don’t follow what he tells them. He would be blaming himself for not being able to effectively communicate his ideas to them. Last, the book hasn’t been written yet on his relationship with his players. If players begin to lose their trust in him as a coach, then they will become less likely to listen to him in the future.
This is my last write-up. I want to thank everyone here at ARoyalPain, especially Bryan Rosa who took on a female in a typically male-dominated sport’s blog and Scott Levin, for whom writing seems to flow from him like water from a tap. It was fun to share our mutual love for this team and its players.