Category Archives: Sports

The uncertain, but potentially bright McLemore/Stauskas future

EDIT: YEAH, THAT SHIT SURE WORKD OUT

Earlier this season, rumor had it that Nik Stauskas was on the trading block so the Kings could pick up a better back up PF or C. Now, while I know the Kings absolutely need someone to complement Cousins and Thompson in their respective rotations, I always thought using the rookie SG to do it was a bad move for many reasons. Rookies are usually bad, and on a bad team the idea of them shining is kind of ludicrous, with guys like Lebron and Andrew Wiggins being exceptions.I also don’t like giving up on a player so early, because what if he turns out to be a contributor to other teams’ playoff successes or shine elsewhere, like Robin Lopez and Isiah Thomas.

However, the biggest reason I had was my optimism, which uncharacteristic of me when I think about the Kings. I thought, and still think, Stauskas and McLemore can be really goddamn good for the Kings.

Both are raw, inconsistent works-in-progress that have suffered through some dumb drama players shouldn’t have to. Both are also very talented, accomplished college players that need to get a better handle on the NBA game and some real, honest-to-Peja mentoring.

On the whole, Stauskas’ rookie stats are trash. His three point shooting is 29%, which I find simultaneously terrifying and hilarious, considering he was a shooting specialist in college, where he was evil with the 3 ball at 47%. Yeah, it’s not the a 1-1 ratio, but damn.

However, let’s isolate the last 10 games. According to Espn.com he’s shooting 49% and averaging 8.1 PPG, which tells me two things: he’s got the talent, but he doesn’t have the opportunity. Since he’s such a raw rookie, I won’t argue for the game to be placed in his hands, especially since they’re not that comfortable with the ball, yet, but I’d like to see more shots made for him. Grant Napear talked about how Mike Malone was trying to do that before he got fired during broadcasts early in the season, but of course that didn’t last.

McLemore provides a possible glimpse into the future for Stauskas. Like Nik, he was also abhorrent his rookie year. He shot 37% and by all accounts looked lost in the NBA. But this season, something changed. we’ve seen his true athleticism on display. The guy can move like few others, he just needs to learn more and get better at harnessing his game. See a pattern here?

I don’t think the comparisons end there, either. Both shooting guards have been playing pretty similarly this year. While Nik is and never will be as athletic as Ben, he still has shown an ability to get to the basket and make some tough shots. He gets the crap blocked out of him a lot, but hey, growing pains. Just yesterday, during the Clippers game, he drove and made a step-back fadeaway. That’s not the first time he’s created his own shot and it won’t be the last. Ben’s forte is arguably getting closer to the rim, with his aforementioned crazy athleticism. He has already shown he can adjust midair and make some tough shots, too. Both players have the kernel of a good to great slasher.

As for that 1-2 punch, I see Ben starting and Nik coming in to spell him. Nik can and needs to be that 3-point shooter. That’s what he was drafted to be. That’s where he will truly thrive, because once he starts knocking those down at a consistent rate, the drive lanes open up. Then the pass lanes open up. I see Ben’s game going the opposite way; once defenders learn they have to give him cushion to account for his speed, he’ll be able to knock down his own long shots.

Imagine both of these guys at their peaks. Imagine the defensive problems they could create for other teams. The hallmark of every great team is depth, and these two with their potential fulfilled could make as strong a shooting guard combo in the NBA.

I understand this kind of reeks of idealism, but I don’t think it’s crazy to think these guys have a future with the Kings. For goodness’ sake, Stauskas won Big 10 Player of the Year last year. I don’t care if it’s “just college,” players without serious talent don’t win that award. The way that talent doesn’t go to waste is to get coaches who know how to use it. Same goes for McLemore. Same goes for almost any player, really.

Also, you know who else sucked his rookie year? Peja Stojakovic. The God. So, let’s not can a player based on his first season.

And you don’t break up this happy couple, do you?

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A frustrated, confused Kings fan and a lost season

Yesterday morning, Sacramento Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro appeared on local radio station KHTK to speak about the turmoil the team finds itself. The stated purpose was to answer some of the most pressing questions that fans had. What happened was Jed York-level question-dodging. If KHTK callers and hosts are any indication, Kings fans are more confused than they were before, myself included.

Nobody should argue that Vivek Ranadive wasn’t the right person at the right time. He has gotten the team and the city a new arena under construction in downtown. Vivek is exactly the man that we needed in 2013. But that doesn’t mean he is the right guy right now.

Now, it’s depressing to be a Kings fan again. In a complete 180, Kings fans feel dejected and baffled after such optimism in the early goings of the season. Questions and issues aren’t being answered or changed. The team looks actively angry and uninvolved on court. The chemistry that elevated them to a 9-6 start against one of the toughest NBA schedules has evaporated. Now…

we suck again

And D’Alessandro’s appearance did nothing to assuage my fears. In fact, he did more to confuse and frustrate me. Here are some pressing questions on every Kings fans mind:

1. If it’s about wins and losses as Vivek stated, then why did they fire the man who had led them to their best start in YEARS? They were 9-6 against the toughest schedule in the NBA?

2. Why, as D’Alessandro said, is Ty Corbin the coach for the rest of the year even though he is 3-7, losing against absolute garbage teams like the Celtics, the Pistons, and the Magic? By the way, two of those wins were nail-biters against two of the NBA’s worst teams: the Timberwolves and the Knicks.

3. Why are you so infatuated with a faster pace? Here are some of the fastest teams in the NBA:

  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Denver
  • Minnesota
  • Lakers

You know what those teams have in common besides pace? They suck. Unequivocally. Yet Memphis, one of the best teams in the NBA, is 27th. The Warriors are first. Sounds more like pace doesn’t factor into a team’s quality much.

4. Why are you obsessed with pace when your two best players are DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay? These guys  thrive in the half-court. Cousins dominates everybody in the low block and draws double and triple-teams to him. Then, he can kick it out to somebody who would be left wide open. Rudy Gay is at his absolute worst when he has to take more than three dribbles with the ball. But he plays like an all-star when he posts up and relies on a quick move or two to get a close jumper.

5. As asked on Carmichael Dave’s show yesterday, why not sign Corbin to a longer contract for stability? D’Alessandro said that Corbin was their guy, yet balked at this question. “Why would we?” he replied.

What the hell is going on?

I’ve been used to the Kings sucking, but this lost season feels all the more painful because of how good they played at the beginning of the year. And management doesn’t seem to care about being forthright with the fanbase or its players since DeMarcus Cousins keeps finding out about major coaching changes through Twitter.

This season leaves me with two painful possible truths: either the Kings management doesn’t know how to right the ship, or it doesn’t care and this is all political. I don’t know what’s worse.