Game 1 Player Analysis: Kings vs Thunder

Breaking down the numbers of the game for the Kings in their Game One debacle against the Thunder, on offense they seemed to just suffer the results of some bad luck. Sure the defense was terrible and inexcusable but their offense seemed to find some bad breaks.

Here’s a player by player breakdown:

Tyreke Evans: 5/16 FG, 10 points, 0/2 FT, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, -20 on court
Just looking at those raw numbers, it appears that Evans had a terrible game. In fact, Kelly Dwyer said, “Tyreke Evans was terrible in his first NBA game, forcing the issue and finishing with 10 points on 16 shots.” I completely disagree with that assessment. Was Evans good? Not really. But was he bad? Not really, either. Tyreke Evans got to the basket for a layup or dunk attempt 12 times in this game for 11 field goal attempts (he was fouled on the missed dunk attempt so it didn’t count). He just happened to miss seven lay-ups in the game. A lot of them were pretty uncontested and he just simply missed them after making the majority of these shots in the summer league and preseason. Does that constitute terrible play?

As for ‘Reke’s defense, it was pretty average. He didn’t give up a lot of points. The man he was guarding made five of the 12 shots against him and scored 11 points off of them. Evans kept Russell Westbrook in front of him for the most part but he did a terrible job of fighting through screens. Every time he didn’t fight through a screen, it led to open shots or bad defensive rotations, which eventually led to an easy bucket inside off of a pass or an offensive rebound.

Overall, I’d give Evans a C- for a grade. His job of running the offense was decent but he didn’t really set up his teammates much after the first quarter. He really did get wherever he wanted on the court. When the Kings went to him in the post, he scored really easily. I’m actually shocked they didn’t do that more because it was the only thing the Thunder didn’t have an answer for. And even if he makes four of those easy lay-ups, you’re looking at a 9/16 night for 18 points. That sounds much better.

Kevin Martin: 5/19, 3/8 3FG, 14/14 FT, 27 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, -19 on court
Kevin Martin was the only thing keeping the Kings from being historically embarrassed in the first half. But he flat out ran out of gas in the second half. Thabo Sefolosha did a much better job after halftime in staying with Martin and challenged every single second half shot that Kevin took against him. Martin wore him out early by throwing his body into contact as he made strong moves towards the basket and got the veteran call nearly every time. His three-point shot was very smooth and fluid but the mid-range jumper seemed to sail on him, especially in the second half. He was on pace to attempt well over 20 free throw attempts with his 14 first half attempts but didn’t get to the line once after halftime.

As for defense, he really didn’t play terrible defense, except in transition. When he was one of the only guys back on the OKC fast breaks, he did an abhorrent job of stopping the ball and slowing down the attack. Instead, he just backpedaled until he was out of position before giving up the basket. He didn’t have much of an assignment with having to stay with Thabo Sefolosha for the majority of the game. He also had two deflections.

Overall, I’d give Kevin Martin a B-. After the first quarter, the Kings actually played the Thunder pretty evenly. Any kind of an attack in the second half would have really put the Kings in a position to make a run at taking this down to the wire. Instead, he faded and the Kings REALLY never had a chance.

Desmond Mason: 2 points, 1/4 FG, 2 rebounds, -18 on court
I have a request for Desmond Mason — don’t ever take a jump shot again. Ever. Seriously. The first one he took from the right side of the floor looked like he was trying to miss. If it isn’t a lay-up or dunk attempt, it needs to swing to the next teammate.

But he wasn’t put in their for offense, he was put in for defense. In his 17 minutes of play, his defense was actually pretty decent in the halfcourt. His man only took four shots against him and made two. He had two deflections and for the most part, stayed with Kevin Durant.

He was so bad on offense though and the team defense was so terrible, it wasn’t even close to being worth it to keep him on the court. For his ineffectiveness, I give him an F…+…yeah.

Jason Thompson: 11 points, 3/4 FG, 5/8 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4 fouls, -13 on court
Jason Thompson was in foul trouble early and it nearly took his effectiveness away for the entire game. He did a nice job on the boards with five of his nine rebounds coming on the offensive end. And he converted two of those five offensive rebounds for put backs. He really only took the ball into the post to make a move one time and he scored on a little half hook from about six feet. But with such little usage on the offensive end for the night, the main thing you have to evaluate is his defense.

Defensively, he got kind of a raw deal early with his quick foul trouble. But it’s on him to play through it and not let it affect the rest of his night. He was pretty much torched whenever he had to deal with Jeff Green. Green did a great job of finding the holes in the Kings defense (and there were plenty of them) by slipping behind JT on the court and waiting for the defense to rotate to get open. Thompson couldn’t guard Green on the perimeter, either. The curious thing about the box score of this game is that I counted four blocks for Thompson but the official game scorer only gave him credit for two. If he ever finishes one behind Hakeem Olajuwon for the all time lead, we know he was robbed of the top spot.

Overall, I’d give JT a D+ for his first game. He tried on defense more than anybody inside but was out of position too many times and played fairly timid because of the foul trouble. His work on the boards was great but they needed him to do that early on the defensive glass when the Thunder were bullying the Kings.

Sean May: 6 points, 2/4 FG, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, -12 on court
Sean May was terrible and the fact that he couldn’t put a body on Nenad Krstic early set the tone for the entire game. Krstic pushed him around on offense and always had better position. May needed to play more like Kendrick Perkins and try to get his opponent out of his comfort zone in terms of position. May did have one nice alley-oop pass to Kevin Martin for an easy two but other than that, he was absolutely horrible in his 18 minutes. I give him an F on the night.

Spencer Hawes: 8 points, 4/10 FG, 0/2 3FG, 6 rebounds, 1 block, -8 on court
What I want to see from Spencer Hawes is for him to get down on the low block, impose his will, and score inside. He only attempt one shot out of a post move inside during this game and the rest of them were jump shots out of the post or spot up jumpers. He shot two threes, which actually made me mad because I don’t want him taking those types of shots unless he’s been killing his opponents inside. Then you can step outside, make a jumper or two and show that there isn’t anything they can do to guard you that night. I realize his game doesn’t exactly translate to that style all of the time but if he wants to be a legit starting center in this league (which he’s not yet, clearly), he has to find a way to be tougher.

Defensively, he got killed all over the court. I’d say about half of it wasn’t his fault. He technically gave up 11 baskets on 17 shots he defended but for the most part, he was rotating because his teammates let their men go free. He’s another one that got short changed in the box score as well because he blocked two shots but was only credited for one. I don’t know if he’s just not athletic or if he just doesn’t time things well but Hawes seems to get no lift when he’s defending shots. I’m going to chalk it up to poor timing because he usually gets up pretty high on rebounds.

Overall, I’m giving Spencer a C-. His offense really puts the Kings at a disadvantage when he’s being passive. He’s simply not good enough to get through a passive performance and score effectively. The last thing this team needs is a Vince Carter mentality at the center position.

Andres Nocioni: 4 points, 2/7 FG, 0/1 3FG, 6 rebounds, +5 on court
Andres Nocioni does not seem to fit into the offense if Beno Udrih isn’t on the floor. Last year, he seemed to be better at finding holes in the defense and planting himself there to knock down shots. But against the Thunder, he didn’t do that at all. He was able to score easily in the post on two occasions against weaker opponents. His value was mainly on defense in which he was one of the few players that defended Jeff Green well and he even forced a few misses from Kevin Durant. He started getting chippy with Green while fighting for position on both ends of the floor. Overall, he deserves a C for his effort. He was one of the few Kings players that actually had a positive plus/minus.

Omri Casspi: 15 points, 7/9 FG, 0/1 3FG, 1/2 FT, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, +10 on court
Omri Casspi made a historical debut and made the most of it. He came in ready to play. After missing his first shot (a three) and dropping a pass that resulted in a turnover, he settled in nicely by being one of the rare bright spots offensively. The only other shot he missed was a quickly, forced jumper to try to beat the buzzer that is one of those shots which was a complete prayer and probably shouldn’t count against shooting percentages. His jump shot was very crisp and fluid, even with the funny shooting motion. He never seemed intimidated by the stage or the fact that his team was down so big.

Defensively, he was very active and did a good job of challenging shots. He allowed just two made shots in seven attempts against him. Both made shots were threes off of slow rotation by Casspi. He used his length and quickness to stay with James Harden and Kevin Durant.

The result was a +10 on the court for the night, the largest of anyone on the team. I give Omri an A- for his effort.

Sergio Rodriguez: 2 points, 1/3 FG, 0/1 3FG, 3 assists, 1 turnover, +7 on court
Sergio didn’t exactly push the tempo and he was pretty awful in defending Russell Westbrook in his limited time. But overall he was on the right court at the right time because the second unit far exceeded the effort and production of the starters. I give him a D+.

Donté Greene: 0 points, 0/1 FG, 1 turnover, 4 minutes
Donté gets an incomplete. He was only on the floor for four minutes and had two chances to defend Kevin Durant but due to poor team defense, Durant scored easily both times.

Jon Brockman: 4 points, 2/2 FG, 1 rebound, +3 on court

I don’t understand why Brockman didn’t play more. He seemed to give them energy in his brief time on the court and was a big body willing to bang with the Thunder front court. He gets a B- for his limited chance.

We’ll get into more team oriented stuff and how they compare to the rest of the league when the sample size gets bigger.