Monday, October 10, 2005

The Not-so Secret 7 - Part 3

This is the last in a three-part installment of SonDog's professional analysis of the Sacramento Kings...

Question 6) How quickly can this team come together on the court?

Some Kings fans long for the Vlade Divac/Doug Christie days of all 12 players having pillow fights, professing love for one another, and jumping in the same cab after the game while pushing each other into the bushes along the way (ahem, Aaron). While this utopia of player happiness is a nice dream (and one that the Kings' of the early decade seemingly had mastered), it is irrelevant to the success of the team on the court. Court chemistry and off-court chemistry are two vastly different animals. While a team can not survive if it can't stand each other (Webber/Peja Kings of 04/05), it doesn't necessarily need to be one big love fest. That being said, all 12 players must buy into coach Rick Adelman's system in order for success on the court. With only three holdovers from last year's opening day roster (Bibby, Peja, Miller), Adelman has the unenviable challenge of trying to mold a team on the run. It's Adelman's responsibility to handle the additions of SAR and Wells, and handle the inevitable bickering for more playing time (ahem, Kenny Thomas). Offensively, the Kings have never had problems. This lineup should be able to put up 110 points a night, on paper. But, ball-movement, which is so critical to the Princeton offense, comes from on-court chemistry and trust. Once trust is found, the team can do something it has been more or less allergic too over the last seven years...

Question 7) Is Defense more than just a rumor?

The... Biggest... Question. (Wow, wasn't that powerful? Don't you love the inflection found with BOLD, Italicized statements that comfortably add... ellipses?) Seriously, the owners (Maloof brothers) said it best last year after the Kings' pitiful defensive display against Seattle in the first-round of the playoffs. To paraphrase, "We can't win anything if we're giving up 120 points per game in the playoffs. In fact, I'd like to order a Tom Emanski defensive skills, Basketball Edition for my team. Do they even make those? Is baseball superstar Fred McGriff still the sponsor, or would it be Kevin Willis in the basketball version? Is he wearing a trucker hat? Can somebody find this out for me while I sit in the hot-tub at MY Palms Casino in Vegas, sippin' on a Mai-Tai?" Truly, the Kings', without defense, remain what they have been for this decade: A fun, exciting team that has instant offense, and garbage defense. They will not be anything more than a 5-8 team in the Western Conference unless they learn to play tougher on the defensive end.

Lest anybody misunderstand my expertise, let me restate what I posted on Thursday: "I'm a 5'10", 180 lb mayonnaise-white guy with limited to no jumping ability. In addition, I don't have a jump shot. Really, not to use a cliché, but I don't think I could hit the ocean if I shot from a boat (wow, that was a serious cliché, wasn't it?). If that weren't enough, I have limited lateral quickness and my dribble-drive consists all of one move, which doesn't come close to involving my left hand. Defensively, I'm as active as a fence post. The words "blocking" or "out" exist nowhere in my vocabulary. The last time I grabbed a rebound was my freshman year of college, and I ended up dating her for about three years. Impressive, but it didn't involve a basketball. While I always considered myself "coachable," coaches never considered me "playable." With all that going for me, I have absolutely no right to critique the game of NBA players. However, since I've never trusted my better judgment before, why start now?"

With that in mind, it's time to enjoy the NBA season.

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