Musings from the Kings Fourth Summer League Game

There are worst things than losing to the D-League Select Team in the Summer League. You could find out that you’re $1 million richer if Mike Bibby gets a defensive stop. You could find out your child is going to be on the Real World: Cancun (I’m looking at you, parents of either Emilee or Ayiiia). In fact, there are probably thousands of things worse than losing to a D-League Select Team.

It’s not like losing to a college team in Spring Training. These D-League players are all extremely talented and a step or break away from being in the NBA. But at the same time, with the Kings down 0-3 in VSL play so far fans definitely wanted to see the Kings an almost assured win in game #4.

The perplexing thing about this game was how the Kings lost. The box score shows that the D-League team won by 16 with a big fourth quarter showing. But watching the game showed that the Kings were down 90-87 with four minutes left in the game and the D-Leaguers finished the game on a15-2 run. Part of it was sharpshooting by guys like Othyus Jeffers and Trey Johnson. Another part of it was getting tough breaks with the bounce of the ball and some questionable officiating.

Ultimately, nobody cares that this team lost. From my experience, being in Vegas for a fourth or fifth day can be completely draining. You should never spend more than three full days in Las Vegas. By the fourth day, you’re just going through the motions and wanting to get out of there. You’re not quite feeling the experience any more and you usually crash and burn as you finish out your gambling before you head for the airport. That’s how the Kings looked out there at times. Nine times out of 10, they take that game and take it convincingly. But with Tyreke Evans semi-nursing a sprained finger and the rest of the Kings enduring another day in Vegas past the three-day maximum it makes a lot of sense as to why they crumbled.

Here are the player recaps for the fourth game of the summer:

Jon Brockman
Kent Brockman wasn’t exactly the rebounding force that we have expected every game from him and that’s probably going to be indicative of how his nights in the regular season go. Some nights he’s going to grab eight or nine rebounds in limited time. Other nights, he’ll be lucky to get to four. He’s basically going to be the Kings’ version of Jamie Feick (peep the Per 36-minute numbers). Brock showed a nice spin move out of the post that produced a lay-up early on in the game and he also knocked down a 17-foot jump shot on the baseline. Both of these plays were things that Kings fans should be excited to see him develop. If he can even be a little bit of a threat on offense, he’ll get extended minutes on the floor.

Omri Casspi
Maybe I have blinders on but I still like what I see from Omri. He’s still aggressive but not in a degenerative Stephon Marbury-type of way. He knocked down a three-point shot that showed good form and he made a couple of nice moves to the basket. He stole the ball twice with both of them coming off of loose balls that he corralled. He’s getting to the basket but not finishing when he does. To me, that’s an encouraging sign. When you consider that until this week he hadn’t played competitive basketball in months, you can see that his shooting and scoring troubles probably have more to do with playing the rust off of his game rather than him being incapable of doing those things consistently. I also liked his man-to-man defense in this game. It wasn’t great, lockdown defense but it was nice to see.

Wesley Matthews
Wes didn’t shoot the ball all that great but he didn’t shoot it that poorly. He did a great job of attacking the defense and getting the free throw line. But Matthews didn’t do two things well at all in this game. First, he didn’t move the ball well and second, he didn’t defend at all. Matthews was lit up by both Jeffers and Trey Johnson throughout this game and couldn’t do anything to slow down the bigger scorers. If he can’t defend, despite his smaller stature, then he won’t have a place on an NBA roster. His scoring is nice but he’s not a good enough or big enough player to make it in the league if he gives up points like this.

Brian Roberts
Brian got the starting nod at the last minute because of Evans’ injured finger. Unfortunately for Brian, he didn’t really have much of a game. He only played about 11 minutes total and once Evans decided to get into the game, it was no longer necessary for Roberts to play. Roberts didn’t contribute to the scoring at all in this game with zero points and zero assists. It’s disappointing because Roberts was having a nice summer but this could have been a major setback in him garnering enough respect around NBA GMs to get him an eventual job this year.

Jerel McNeal
Look at what I just wrote for Roberts and replace Brian Roberts’ name with Jerel McNeal’s name.

Donte Greene
Donte had one of his better games in just 17 minutes of action. He only shot 2/6 from the field on his way to eight points but he rebounded the ball five times in his time, racked up three assists and even had a strong block inside. Greene has shown a much more consistent ability to play defense in the post this summer and has rebounded the ball very well for someone who was so poor at it last season. Fans might be concerned that we haven’t seen a 40-point outburst from DG this summer like Rockets fans saw last summer but he’s working on some intangibles that he needed to improve.

Marcus Landry
Once again, Landry scored the ball efficiently and shot the ball well from the floor. He made four of his six shots and put in 10 points in just 14 minutes. Landry should be figuring out where he’s staying in Sacramento for the months of September and October this fall because he has definitely earned a camp invite.

Ryan Toolson
He played eight minutes and the most important thing I can say about him is he’s Danny Ainge’s nephew. Thanks for coming, Ryan.

Robert Battle
In two minutes of play, he grabbed two offensive rebounds, turned the ball over twice and committed two fouls. He’s still terrifying to look at.

Tyreke Evans
This was a very low key and confusing game for the Kings’ prospect that NBATV play-by-play announcer Rick Kamla awkwardly called “delicious.” He didn’t start because of the sprained finger that kept him out of Tuesday’s scrimmage against Portland. But he managed to talk his way into playing when the second quarter started and ended up playing a facilitator role for the Kings in his 23 minutes. It felt like they told him to not worry about being a physical scorer and instead, just concentrate on moving the ball and hang back on offense.

Towards the end of the game, Reke couldn’t quite hold back any longer and did much more driving and playmaking. He ran the pick-and-roll with Tyreke perfectly a couple of times and kept the ball high on his entry passes to Thompson off the roll, which made it much easier for the JT to go straight to the rack. Evans even had a nice drive down the middle to suck in the defense and he dropped a low bounce pass to Thompson for another score around the basket. Tyreke also did a nice job on the boards with six rebounds on the night.

And now for some Jason Thompson breakdown:

I saved JT for last because he had the exact type of game that everybody wanted to see this summer. He wasn’t tentative, lazy, or sloppy with any aspect of his game. He scored early and often in a variety of ways. He attacked the basket quickly and aggressively, which the defense was too slow to stop. He showed tough, hard work on the boards, both offensively and defensively. He blocked shots and proved to be a solid defender throughout the game.

Jason was finally the player that I implored him to be, recently. He wasn’t slow and he didn’t wait for the game to come to him. He didn’t wait for the defense to take the inside away, forcing him to shoot jumpers. He kept the defenders off balance by making strong moves to the hoop and when they backed off, he shot and made jumpers. On the boards, he grabbed five offensive and five defensive rebounds while keeping numerous rebounds alive to give his teammates an opportunity to secure the ball. And he was credited with just two blocks because he had three taken away on questionable terrible foul calls. It was the type of game that erased all of my doubts of his heart and drive from his previous games.

There are a lot of worst things than losing to the D-League team in the VSL – especially when your second-year starting power forward breaks out of his funk to dominate the game.


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