In my last break down, I wrote the Los Angeles Clippers would have to be wary of the Golden State Warriors because they have some excellent talent and a more well-rounded team than in recent years.
Although the Sacramento Kings are younger and more inexperienced than the Warriors, the black and purple have many opposing threats like Golden State does. Also similar to the Warriors, I think the Clippers are a better team than the Kings and will more than likely beat them in all four matches this season even with the solid talent the Kings now have.
It all starts with the guy all teams should revolve around, the point guard. Chris Paul is a better point then anyone who has ever been a King — Mike Bibby, Bobby Jackson and Spud Webb included — and is easily better than Isiah Thomas, the legend’s son, Aaron Brooks and Jimmer Fredette.
CP3’s greatness automatically means the offense is well-rounded because he can turn anyone into at least a 10 points a night type of scorer. I’ve said this before, see Tyson Chandler when he played alongside Paul with the New Orleans Hornets. The lack of a true point guard who will make teammates better is something the Kings are seriously missing.
On the other hand, the Kings are rich in youthful talent who can cause headaches at other positions.
If he can keep his head on straight, DeMarcus Cousins could be one of the best centers in the league. He has tremendous low-post scoring moves and knows how to block a shot or two while picking up rebounds. If he isn’t the main defensive stopper, he is a great help defender who give his guards a break when they get beat on the perimeter.
The main concern about him is his attitude.
Cousins doesn’t always want to do what is asked of him and takes plays, sometimes quarters, off. He can be athletic, he can be a polarizing figure on the boards, he can be an elite low-post scorer and he can be a disappointment because he doesn’t care at times. If he does care and wants to play hard all the time, Cousins is one of the best in the league. I’d put him only under Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
He has the skills to be that good.
Tyreke Evans may finally be where he needed to be all along — at the small forward position. When the fourth pick in the 2009 draft was brought to Sacramento he was listed as a point guard and asked to carry the team since he was the best player on the court. After his rookie season of 20 points and 6 assists, he has slowly declined.
All of a sudden his decision making, shot and passes didn’t look as good, which translated in Evans’ stock going down.
With that said, he was moved to two-guard in order to keep his scoring at a high level. This became a problem because the point guards they brought in didn’t make the situation any better. His scoring still slid with horrible averages from the field and behind the three-point line.
Now, he is a small forward with Marcus Thorton at the two-guard and Isiah Thomas at the point. Thomas, in his rookie season last year, made solid passes and scored points from all over the court. This of course, opens Evans as the defense isn’t only focused on him on the perimeter. Also, Thorton’s scoring ability helps Evans even further because defenses have to be concerned with more than one shooter/perimeter scorer.
Plus, with three guys who can run the floor, the fast break scoring should go way up in Sacramento. If they play defense.
All the scoring in the world isn’t going to help the Kings, if they can’t play defense. I don’t know if the D has improved any, but if they’re as bad as they were last season, the Clippers will surely hand Sacramento losses.
Back to Thorton.
Thorton is a nice outside scoring option the Kings desperately needed. They gave up Carl Landry for him, which was a little too much, but he is a scoring option the Kings didn’t have outside of Evans. The dividends of the trade were seen at the end of the year when Thorton was putting up good numbers, averaging 20 points in March and 16 in April.
Sacramento also has solid players coming off the bench in Brooks, Chuck Hayes, John Salmons, James Johnson and Thomas Robinson. I am a huge fan of Robinson and think he will be the best player of the 2012 draft class in five years — even ahead of Anthony Davis. You read it here folks.
All of these guys are athletic and have shown signs of brilliance at some point in their career except for rookie Robinson. I would still take the Clippers bench of Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe.
A Clippers-Kings game is going to be full of highlight reel plays but in the end the Clippers are more talented and have veteran leadership. Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler have all been in clutch situations and excelled. The Kings, not so much.
The Kings have a lot of talent, but I think they’re still a little immature to make a run against top Western Conference teams. The Clippers is definitely a large hill Sacramento is not going to be able to climb.