The Sacramento Kings make their first and only trip to the Izod Center tonight, and both the Nets and their fans (including the bag-wearing ones), have to be licking their chops at a good chance for win number 8. Still, that’s why they play the games, and here to let you know who to look out for on the Kings is Zach Harper, from the great blog, Cowbell Kingdom.
NAS: Because of a jaw injury, Nets fans may not get to see Tyreke Evans play this time around. Still, as someone who gets to watch him day-in and day-out, how has he progressed as the season has gone along? Has he hit a rookie slump?
The thing about watching Tyreke Evans every game is that you forget he’s just a rookie. It’s cliche, I know, but it’s the truth. He’s been the best player on the team since the sixth game of the year and it hasn’t been all that close. When he first started terrorizing the league (November and December), he was just a wrecking ball. He’d dribble in an unorthodox fashion, barrel into the defense and control his body after the contact enough to lay the shot up. It was as simple as giving a power running back the ball and saying, “go get me three yards.” Now, he’s more like a well-placed set of explosives to demolish a building. He’s finally understanding the game more and getting a feel for what he’s supposed to do. He chooses his spots a lot better and sets up teammates by design, instead of more by instinct. He knows that when he gets into the lane and spins, the defense will be there. The result is he kicks the ball out to a lot of open jump shooters. Unfortunately for him, the shots don’t seem to fall when that happens so he gets cheated out of a lot of assists.
He’s definitely hit the rookie slump in many areas. His defense has been a bit slow the past couple of weeks. It’s still been decent defense but he has had a problem getting out on shooters or rotating properly. I think a lot of this has to do with tired legs and the same thing could be said about why his jumper has fallen completely off the map. Beginning of the year, he had a decent outside jumper (as long as it was between 16 and 23 feet). He’s never been a good three-point shooter but he could knock down long twos. Now, it’s pretty much all bad and he scores exclusively from the line or in the paint. But his shot is fixable. If he can add a respectable outside jumper over the next couple of seasons, he’ll have gone from wrecking ball to demolition explosives to an all out air-raid. It will be unfair.
NAS: After another season without a playoff berth, what do you think are the future prospects for the Kings organization? Are there enough building blocks in place to do what OKC is doing and become a playoff contender in the near future?
The future of the Kings looks bright but they still have to make some decisions going forward. They can’t just sit back like the Blazers and Thunder did, stockpile assets and wait for everybody to grow up. They have a good, young core with Evans, Landry, Thompson, Hawes, Casspi and Greene. Evans is clearly their franchise player and Landry is a good number two. But they need someone of the other four to step up and be an All-Star caliber player. On top of that, they need interior defense in the worst way. They have $17 million (roughly) to spend this off-season and they need to use it on a defensive big man. He doesn’t have to be an All-Star but you also don’t want to eat up all that cap space with a Tyson Chandler or Samuel Dalembert type of guy. You need someone that can actually play and play well. They also need a more reliable perimeter scorer to pair with Tyreke, whether that means at the point or shooting guard position. The Kings can definitely get back to the playoffs in the next two years but they have to be proactive in the way they build this team.