You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
After a thrilling 100 to 91 victory at home over the Los Angeles Lakers last night, the Sacramento Kings face a quick turnaround and travel north to challenge the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers also came away victorious in their season debut, a 107-103 at the Rose Garden against the Philadelphia 76ers. LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace led the Trailblazers in their winning effort with 25 and 21 points, respectively.
Today, Jonathan Santiago is joined by Chris Haynes, Blazers Insider for Comcast SportNet Northwest, and Tom Ziller, NBA editor at SB Nation and editor at Sactown Royalty, in a roundtable discussion leading up to tonight’s Blazers/Kings game.
1. Opposing player you’re most intrigued to see?
Chris Haynes: Jimmer, of course. I’m interested in seeing if he can create his own shot, run the point, and if he’ll be primarily a spot-up shooter in this league. Also, I’m dying to see him pull one of his long-range jump shots. Without a doubt, he’s the most intriguing player on the Sacramento Kings’ roster.
Tom Ziller: Nicolas Batum. This is a big season for the Frenchman, who needs to prove he’s as valuable as Gerald Wallace and Wes Matthews and deserves a payday, even if he’s coming off of the bench to start the campaign.
Jonathan Santiago: I’m curious to see how Jamal Crawford plays tonight. He almost signed with the Sacramento Kings and by all accounts was very torn on deciding between Portland and the capital city. I get the sense that he’s filling the void left by Brandon Roy off the Blazers bench.
2. Deeper bench: Kings or Blazers?
Chris Haynes: Deeper? Kings. Production wise? Blazers. The Blazers are equipped with arguably the best sixth man in the league in Jamal Crawford and pairing him with Nicolas Batum puts them over the top of Sacramento’s reserves J.J. Hickson, Jimmer Fredette, Travis Outlaw and Jason Thompson.
Tom Ziller: The Blazers get the nod on the wings and in the backcourt, as Jamal Crawford and Nic Batum are proven contributors while Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas are green. But the Kings have superior depth up front with the ability to bring in J.J. Hickson and Jason Thompson.
Jonathan Santiago: The Kings played 11 guys last night while the Blazers played 10. I may have to go with the Blazers right now just because they have more proven commodities (Nicolas Batum, Jamal Crawford and Kurt Thomas). Though the Kings rookies played fairly well last night, we need a larger sample size to gauge if they can consistently produce for the rest of the season.
3. Matchup to watch?
Chris Haynes: The easy pick would be the LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMarcus Cousins battle, but I’m going with Wesley Matthews versus Tyreke Evans. Matthews is known for his defense and it will be needed mightily tonight against Evans. If Matthews can hold Evans to 17 points or lower, Blazers get the win.
Tom Ziller: Gerald Wallace vs. John Salmons. Wallace is bigger and stronger, and the Kings don’t want Salmons doing too much with the ball, but each should have opportunities to go at each other a bit.
Jonathan Santiago: LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Chuck Hayes. Despite his short stature, Hayes gives bigger players fits because of his positioning and ability to stay low on defense. We saw some of that last night against Pau Gasol and I expect more of the same tonight against Aldridge. Honorable mention? Isaiah Thomas versus his mentor Jamal Crawford.