March 26, 2017, 4:36 pm
It looked as though it was going to be a sour week for the Kings dropping their first two games. However, they bounced back in a big way to close out the week with an impressive win over the Clippers in Los Angeles. One thing is for sure with this group, they are going to be fun and exciting moving forward; the future is bright.
The Kings’ first game of the week came against the Bucks and things didn’t go to plan for Sacramento. A strong second quarter (44-26) helped propel Milwaukee over the Kings with a final score of, 116-98. The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo could not be stopped posting 32 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in 40 minutes of action while Greg Monroe shot a tidy 5-of-6 off the bench for the Bucks. Buddy Hield stood out for the Kings with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting and Tyreke Evans put forth his best efforts dropping 18 points off the bench.
Sacramento had a matchup with familiar foes the Golden State Warriors on Friday but the talent gap was just too large as the Warriors trumped the Kings, 114-110 in Oakland. Steph Curry had one of his better games of the season compiling 27 points, seven rebounds, 12 assists and six steals in 33 minutes. Buddy Hield notched a career-high 22 points with four long-balls while Ty Lawson managed 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Skal Labissiere also deserves a mention posting 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 27 minutes off the bench.
The Kings concluded the week by shocking the Clippers in Los Angeles with a, 98-97 win. Willie Cauley-Stein had the game winner after an offensive rebound and put back with 1.8 seconds remaining; Chris Paul’s shot at the buzzer was too strong. Sacramento erased an 18-point deficit and went on a 22-3 run in the fourth quarter to complete the upset. Overall, this was the best the Kings have played since the All-Star break. Buddy Hield was again a factor dropping 11 points in the fourth quarter. Darren Collison had 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Anthony Tolliver was superb going 5-of-6 from three.
Takeaway from the week
Despite the fact that they have gone 4-12 since the All-Star break, the Kings’ team chemistry has been shining bright. Even during blowout losses the bench is always on their feetcheering their teammates on. It was on full display in Sunday’s win over the Clippers as down the stretch the whole bench was on their feet for the entirety of the final two minutes and even the coaches were all up, beyond excited during Sacramento’s 22-3 run.
It’s enlightening to see. Those moments alone provide proof as to how ‘together’ this team is despite all they have been through this season. It gives everyone hope and makes people believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Kings fans. Sacramento has an unbelievably good young core to build around moving forward, and that talent base is only going to grow larger with the Kings in line to receive two lottery picks in the upcoming NBA Draft this summer. Not to mention the fact that they have oodles of cap space too, but we all know about Sacramento’s troubles recruiting top-tier free agents.
As mentioned earlier, the future is bright for the Sacramento Kings. A core of Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere is exceptional; let’s not forget guys like Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson too. This season has been long and grueling. But it feels different going into the offseason this time around, it finally feels like there is a sense of direction and a solid platform to move forward.
Player Power Rankings
Note: These rankings are based on each player’s performance from this week, not on the entire season.
#1 – Buddy Hield (Last week: #4)
After a brief hiatus Buddy Hield is back at the top. He continues to grow with each game he plays and the game seems to come so easy to him. This week he managed a career-high 22 points against the Golden State Warriors who are undeniably one of the best teams in the league. In three games he averaged 19.3 points on 47.6 percent shooting which is impressive for any player let alone a rookie.
#2 – Willie Cauley-Stein (Last week: #2)
Cauley-Stein continues to be among the Kings’ best players post All-Star break. In three games this week he complied averages of 10.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.7 blocks on 63.6 percent shooting from the field. As well as scoring the game winner against the Clippers, he also tied his career-high in rebounds with 14.
#3 – Darren Collison (Last week: #8)
He certainly bounced back after his rough week last week. Collison went off against the Clippers dropping 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. For the week he averaged 14.5 points on 68.8 percent shooting from the field in two games of action. He is one of the veteran leaders on this team and his contributions, as well as his leadership is crucial down the stretch for this young group.
#4 – Garrett Temple (Last week: #3)
It’s an ever so slight drop for Mr. Temple this week but his influence on and off the court remains pivotal. He brings it on defense every night and was a huge factor in holding Jamal Crawford to just 2-of-12 shooting on Sunday. Even if he does struggle offensively his defensive contributions keep him near the top of the rankings each week.
#5 – Anthony Tolliver (Last week: #5)
Tolliver remains at number five this week and he can thank his tremendous performance against the Clippers for that. He recorded 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three and his ability to knock down shots, almost on demand, is what kept the Kings in it. Like Temple and Collison, his veteran presence has been crucial for the Kings since the All-Star break and he has also had a big hand in the development of Skal Labissiere.
#6 – Ty Lawson (Last week: #9)
He only played one game this week but he was exceptional in that one game he played in. As mentioned earlier, Lawson had 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field (2-of-2 from three) in 24 minutes on Friday. Lawson will likely spend some extended time on the sidelines to close out the season due to rest purposes.
#7 – Skal Labissiere (Last week: #1)
Skal free falls down the board a bit this week but he was still decent at times. His most impressive game came against the Warriors where he had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists on 5-of-11 shooting. He was decent against the Bucks too but he really struggled matching up against Blake Griffin on Sunday. He went just 1-of-7 from the field for two points and was in foul trouble all night.
#8 – Georgios Papagiannis (Last week: #6)
You could argue that Papa G should be higher, but he was a bit up and down this week. His 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 21 minutes on Sunday was his best outing, especially against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. He continues to block shots at a respectable level to with 1.7 per game this week alone.
#9 – Tyreke Evans (Last week: Injured)
Evans had a great game against the Bucks, but he also had a miserable game against the Clippers so it was a mixed bag for him. He got the start in Los Angeles but managed just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. He looked lethargic at times and disinterested which is probably why he only played 21 minutes on the night. Evans won’t be playing much down the stretch.
#10 – Ben McLemore (Last week: NWT)
McLemore wasn’t with the team last week due to the birth of his first child. When he did see the court he was decent with his most notable game coming against the Warriors where he had 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting. He’s at the edge of the Kings rotation and will likely remain there moving forward, barring injury.
#11 – Arron Afflalo (Last week: NWT)
Afflalo also missed last week due to personal reasons. He played in two games this week and dropped 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting against the Bucks. He may play some solid minutes from time to time but don’t expect too much of him for the remainder of the season.
#12 – Langston Galloway (Last week: #10)
Galloway remains at the bottom this week but he did show his stuff at times. He shot 57.1 percent from three this week which is his only notable stat worth mentioning. One thing is for sure, he isn’t shy to shoot but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at this point in the season.
Injured: Rudy Gay (Achilles) and Malachi Richardson (hamstring).
Not enough minutes: Kosta Koufos.