Thursday, October 7, 2010
I witnessed the Kings live for the first time this year on Thursday night.
I think I have retinal damage. My eyes are still burning. It was that ugly to watch.
You see, the Kings have a problem. It was evident last year and it's starting to become evident again.
The do not like to share the ball. They do not play well with others -- others notably being their teammates.
This was in clear evidence in Thursday night's preseason car wreck against the Clippers.
Take the second quarter...
For an 11-minute stretch, I kept track of every possession, the number of passes made by Kings players, and the result.
Here's how it broke down:
Zero passes. Four possessions. Result: One basket, One drawn foul, One turnover, One missed basket.
One pass. Eight possessions. Result: Five Turnovers, Two misses, One drawn foul.
Two passes. Eight possessions. Result: Three misses, Two turnovers, Two drawn fouls, One basket.
Three passes. One possession. Result: One miss.
Four passes. Four possessions. Two misses, Two drawn fouls.
That was it in 11 minutes. Of a grand total of 25 possessions, the team passed twice or less 20 times.
Now, part of the blame has to rest with coach Paul Westphal. The offense is stagnant. There is almost no player movement and almost no reversing of the ball. There seems to be virtually no improvement from last year's lethargic offensive sets. There are very few sharp cuts to the hoop, almost nothing in the way of smooth, crisp passing.
But perhaps the players must take the brunt of the blame. Almost all of them would rather fire up a shot than dish for an assist.
Let's go down the list:
Tyreke Evans: Okay, this guy probably doesn't need to look for anyone else because he can simply take it to the hoop most every time he desires. Still, he only looks for teammates as a last resort. And that's not good for keeping his teammates happy and hearty.
Jason Thomspon: Not sure he actually knows how to pass.
Omri Casspi: Once passed the ball during a pickup game in East Jerusalem, but he hasn't since. Just refuses to pass. Plays with an odd chip on his shoulder.
DeMarcus Cousins: He can pass, but he likes to score more. And his impatience is not a virtue. You can see the frustration in his body language when things don't go his way -- and that means more forces to the basket and fewer passes.
Carl Landry: He has averaged 0.7 assists for his career. Nuff said.
Donte Greene: He occasionally passes, but I'm just not sure he knows where it's going.
Francisco Garcia: A savvy veteran but never a guy who was much of a set-up man for teammates.
Beno Udrih: Ding, ding, ding -- a guy who can actually pass. He missed Thursday night's game with an injury, but the Kings may not realize how much they need this guy on the court.
So there you have it. Yes, it's only preseason and, yes, this team should get more cohesive. But there doesn't seem to be a well-rooted philosophy of sharing the ball.
And that could be a big problem if this team really wants to take the next step.