The Scouting Report: The Sacramento Kings
Projected starting line-up: Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
Additions: Darren Collison, Nik Stauskas, Omri Casspi, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, Eric Moreland
Key departure: Isaiah Thomas
The Sacramento Kings were an entertaining team that was inherently flawed last season. Nobody would confuse them with contenders but it would be hard to find those who didn’t enjoy watching Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins on the offensive end.
But apparently the Kings found that they couldn’t keep Thomas, by instead signing point guard Darren Collison from the Los Angeles Clippers as well as Ramon Sessions. Thomas signed in free agency with the Phoenix Suns.
DeMarcus Cousins didn’t seem to miss Thomas all that much but still, it’s hard not to see the Kings missing out on his scoring talents.
Darren Collison has been brought in as the starter and if you look at his percentages, they aren’t all that different from Thomas’ at the rim and behind the three-point line. But Collison doesn’t come close to matching Thomas’ volume.
But in the void of a perimeter shooter, perhaps the Kings have found something in rookie guard Nik Stauskas. In the parts I watched of Sacramento’s opener, a lot of the things that made Stauskas a star in college were on display. He picked his spots in pick and rolls and used his lightning-quick release to do so.
He only went 3-10 but he had a couple of misses on good looks mixed in.
The Kings, just like every other team in the NBA (or at least it seems), has a brand new court.
Also, it’s hard to imagine the Kings will turn the ball over 27 times like they did in the opener against Golden State. The Warriors were turnover prone as well, coughing the ball up 22 times but the Kings looked like many of theirs were out of hesitation.
I don’t expect DeMarcus Cousins to have 6 turnovers and I don’t expect him to second-guess himself like he did many times against the Warriors on Wednesday. Cousins is one of the most dominant offensive forces in the league but he does especially well against Portland. Taking out some of the unnatural hesitation he showed on Wednesday will probably help.
In addition to Cousins, Sacramento’s Rudy Gay averaged 31 points per game against the Blazers last season.
The Kings may not be busting out any 4-on-5 tactics in this game but it would probably behoove the Kings and coach Mike Malone to have Darren Collison pressure Damian Lillard in the early going. They have three point guards including Ray McCallum who showed some nice flashes to close last season. Malone should try and use that to their advantage against Lillard if they can.
After Lillard struggled on opening night, it’s hard to imagine him doing it again. And this stat probably helps you understand why:
10 times @Dame_Lillard has scored 10 pts or fewer. In the game following, he's averaged 25.3 pts, scoring 30+ three times. (Thx @Bchinn24)
— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) October 31, 2014
It won’t be an easy one for the Blazers against a team full of offensive talent. And the Kings are going to be a tougher team to stop in the beginning of the fourth quarter than the unit the Thunder threw out on Wednesday.
The advantage Portland’s second unit had in the opener won’t be quite as glaring and they certainly respect the Kings, as they should. They were a Dorell Wright buzzer beater away from tying the season series last year.
We won’t be watching the game live due to a big prep football night in Clark County, but we’ll have an analysis and a collection of reports from the game. This won’t be an issue in the future but CSNNW, TrailBlazers.com and The Oregonian all have boots on the ground.