The Sacramento Kings lost their preseason opener to the Golden State Warriors 94-81 on Monday. It was an even contest through the first 40 minutes, but that all changed when Warriors coach Mark Jackson decided to bring four of his five starters back in the game with just over seven minutes remaining. Golden State outscored the Kings by 10 after the substitutions and went on to win by 13.
Clearly Jackson valued the win, even though it’s early in the preseason. I think we could psychoanalyze the move and make a bigger deal out of this loss than it needs to be, but lets save that for another day.
It’s preseason and the opener at that. We shouldn’t look too closely at the games outcome, but instead, focus on a few items that stood out.
Jason Thompson‘s defense
Thompson is one of the rare players in the league that returns each and every season improved. Entering his sixth season in the league, the 27-year old Thompson has almost been surly with media. He’s tired of having to battle for his position each and every year. He’s tired of new coaches and relocation questions and starting over yet again. But he isn’t tired of becoming a better basketball player.
The pick-and-roll is the hardest play in the NBA to defend and in game number one, Thompson showed a new ability to guard it. He stepped up and showed on the dribbler, but was able to stay balanced and get big on the entry pass. Whether it was Michael Malone’s teachings or work he has done on the side, Thompson showed a new wrinkle to his game.
DeMarcus Cousins‘ hustle
In the same way that Eduardo Najera will never be confused with DeMarcus Cousins on the offensive end, Cousins will never be known as a the hustle player that Najera was. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t try. What we saw in game one was an energized Cousins who looked to lead by example. The result was two blocks and two steals in 23 minutes of action.
Unfortunately, he also shot just 2-for-10 from the field, turned the ball over five times and sat with five fouls. Cousins needs to figure out how to balance out his new enthusiasm for the game, but it’s an issue that Malone has to be excited to have.
Isaiah Thomas‘ new guns
If you thought Thomas was going to hand his starting point guard position over to newcomer Greivis Vasquez, you were mistaken. The 5-foot-9 Thomas came into camp a ripped 178-pounds. He literally looks like he is ready to box Vasquez for the starting position. Thomas finished the game with 15 points and six, but turned the ball over six times for just the second time in his career. The turnovers are an anomaly, but Thomas isn’t. He is looking and acting the part of the Kings starting point guard.
Jimmer Fredette‘s DNP-CD
This season was supposed to be about new beginnings for many of the Kings, Jimmer included. But the former BYU star sat patiently on the Sacramento bench with Trent Lockett and DeQuan Jones and never got the call. Even Hamady Ndiaye played three minutes in the loss. What does all of this mean? We have no idea. It could mean anything from Jimmer’s run on the Sacramento Kings is coming to a close, to coach Malone wanted to see Thornton play in game one and will come back to Jimmer in game two.
It was one preseason loss, which means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. But what stood out the most?