Over at the Daily Dime on ESPN.com, I was allowed to write a brief piece about Beno and Tyreke starting together again. Here’s a snippet:
Before Martin was traded, the Kings were averaging 15.3 fast-break points per game (good for top seven in the NBA). Since the deadline deal, the Kings have seen their fast-break points jump to 16.4 per game. Not to mention, if you throw out the offensive debacle that was the 84-81 win over Houston on Wednesday night, the Kings are averaging 18.1 fast-break points per game since Martin was dealt.
Now, I don’t really want to knock Kevin Martin because he was a big part of this organization for years but the fact remains that he was never a strong dribbler. He looked uncomfortable pushing the ball up the floor when there was a defender around. When he had an open court, he was like a gazelle. It was a beautiful sight watching him fly up the court and flush home a two-handed slam. But when there was ball pressure and he actually decided to attack the defense other than slowing the tempo, he looked like Willie McGee’s batting stance.
This is what I love about the backcourt of Tyreke and Beno right now. There’s always a guard who is capable and comfortable pushing the ball. The bigs can rebound the ball, whip the outlet pass to whoever has the better path up the court and get easy fast-break points. The one thing I can’t explain is how much better the defense has been since Beno was inserted back into the starting lineup. Beno is not as good of a defender as Kevin Martin, or at least you can argue as such. So how are they giving up fewer points with Beno playing starter’s minutes over the last four games?
Maybe it’s the opponents. Maybe it’s coincidence. Or maybe it’s just perfect timing after the Westphal-Hawes blowup coupled with the team actually being able to practice and Carl Landry’s insertion. The effort on the interior defense is so much improved.
Whatever the reason is, the Kings are 3-1 since Beno returned to the starting lineup.