[Grades] Grades, Kings vs. Rockets 10-18-17

Capt. Factorial

Cantry Member
Staff member
OOPS! My bad. I tried to merge Tetsujin's grades into the first post of this thread and messed it up. Capt. FActorial's initial message is now merged into Tesujin's first post below. - VF21
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Only saw the last quarter, so here's my input:

Refs: F!

Speaking of reffing... Rockets shot 29 FTs, compared to Kings shooting 10 (most of which came in the final minute)...Were we just not attacking? Or were they just not getting fouls called on them?
Hill = B
Hield = B+
Jackson = C
Labissiere = B
Cauley-Stein = A-
Temple = B+
Fox = A-
Carter = B+
Koufos = C+

Thought the whole team did well individually and collectively. Everyone showed that they're capable of becoming key contributors. They fought hard and competed. What more can we ask?
Fox was very impressive in his first NBA game. He's our best bet for a superstar.
Skal made some mistakes, but was determined to pull down his share of rebounds.
WCS did not play a perfect game, but he played well enough to quiet all the critics for one day (hopefully).
Heald is going to be our leading scorer this season. Hopefully he'll get up more points than he gives away with his dribbling. Yes, he's improved his handles, but he's still prone to give up the ball.
Only saw the last quarter, so here's my input:

Refs: F!

Speaking of reffing... Rockets shot 29 FTs, compared to Kings shooting 10 (most of which came in the final minute)...Were we just not attacking? Or were they just not getting fouls called on them?
Refereeing was fine other than that BS play at the end. We really weren't attacking. Lots of jumpers and finesse shots around the room. The days of watching DMC shoot 20 FT's are over.


The Game Thread Dude
With VF at the game and myself otherwise committed, I figured I'd start out the grades thread now...

Feel free to chime in with your own grades (preferably after the game is over!)

Alrighty folks, well that certainly was an exciting start to the season wasn't it?

While the outcome wasn't ideal and the refs once again found a new way to screw over the Kings, there were encouraging performances all around and a halftime performance by Lil Jon for some reason. It looks like I'm going to be doing grades for the majority of the season so let's get things rolling shall we?

Skal Labissiere (C+) -- 33 min, 12 pts, 10 rbs, 1 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk, 5 tov, 1 pf
With Z-Bo slow to recover from some oddly timed dental surgery, Skal got the season opening start and performed, well, adequately. On offense Skal showed flashes of the smoothness that makes him such an appealing prospect. Additionally he travelled repeatedly (as reflected in his team leading 5 turnovers). On defense, Skal's twig-esque lower body largely went unpunished by Mike D'Antoni's three-or-dunks offense and he was able to challenge Ryan Anderson much better than he did last season (which isn't saying much because all Ryan really does is just sorta stand around the corner regions of the court and wait for Harden to throw it to him). He also made a visible effort on the boards tonight and wound up with a double-double, although a lot of those boards came because the entire Rockets team was standing twenty feet away from the hoop to take a three). Overall, it wasn't a bad night for Skal but there was definitely room to improve.

Justin Jackson (C) -- 19 min, 5 pt, 2 rbs, 0 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk, 0 tov, 1 pf
If you had told me that one of our five rookies was going to start the season opener, Justin Jackson would not have been the first name that came to mind. With Joerger notorious for taking a careful approach with his rookies and young guys, the fact that J-Jax is already getting the starting nod speaks volumes about his coach's trust in him (and also about the lack of depth at the 3 spot on this roster). Though the stats from his debut aren't exactly gaudy, I thought the rookie played within himself and the system for his first game. Struggled shooting the ball early off then settled into the game in his second stint and showed off his nice floater game. On defense, he didn't make too many mistakes (aside from letting Luc Mbah a moute sneak behind him for a dunk), though once again the Rockets system isn't exactly designed to single in on and punish rookies. Overall, a perfectly average shrug of the shoulders as a game start to Justin's NBA career.

Willie Caulie-Stein (A-) -- 32 min, 21 pt, 10 rbs, 1 ast, 0 stl, 3 blk, 1 tov, 1 pf
For one night at least, those people looking to ship Willie off to Philly for Okafor or whatever are going to have to eat crow as Trill turned in perhaps the best performance of the night for the young Kings team. When Willie started the game off by rushing a forced shot on O, I thought we were in for once of those nights but, much to my pleasure, Willie soon settled in and made plays off of boards and around the rim. While 10 rebounds is barely above average, they're a good sign that the notoriously board averse former-Wildcat was dialed in and ready to roll. In the second half, started showing up as a rim protector, charting three blocks in the third quarter, all while showing off an improved jump shot (kinda) to go with the inside action on offense.

Now, I know some of you are going to point at Capella going off for twenty points tonight as some indication of Willie's deficiency on defense but, to be fair, some of that (at least in the early going) seemed to be more on the team's emphasis on keeping Harden from simply waltzing into the paint than Willie pooping himself when his team didn't have the ball. After halftime, Joerger seemed to make a bit of an adjustment in the defensive scheme and from there on, I thought Trill did a much better job of pressuring Capella than in the first half (the stats would also seem to bear that out).

Overall, an encouraging start to the season from the apparently black sheep of the Kings prospect group. If Willie somehow turns in performances like this every single night, our team will be in very good shape going forward.

George Hill (B) -- 32 min, 16 pt, 3 rb, 3 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk, 4 tov, 3 pf
This was a solid debut by perhaps our biggest free agent signing in the last ten years and I'd imagine we'd all be very happy about George Hill's future as our starting point guard were it not for the fact that his backup may just be the most exciting player in the NBA (okay, that's an exaggeration but still the point remains). The Indianan was just solid in almost every facet of the game: defense, offense (turnovers aside), intangibles (just watch the dude coach up his guys at almost every dead ball). In the third when the game started to slip away, Hill started to turn up his own offensive output to keep the team within range and did a fairly good job of making the Rocket guards work for their cake. Teamed with Temple and Fox to wreak defensive havoc on the Rockets in the second half. Those of you already plotting ways to get him off our roster should probably hold that thought. The Floor General should be a key cog of our squad going forward.

Buddy Hield (B) -- 33 min, 19 pt, 5 rb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk, 2 tov, 5 pf
It was a tale of two halves for Buddy. In the first, Hield looked as bad as he had for most of summer league and preseason: forcing shots, misplaying possessions on defense, generally trying to do too much. In the second half, Buddy pretty much looked the same except for one key difference: his shots were going in. It sounds simple but that's the gist of it. One can only hope that the third quarter explosion is more of an indicator of things to come in the season going forward.


Kosta Koufos (C) -- 18 min, 2 pts, 6 rb, 0 ast, 0 stl, 1 blk, 1 tov, 3 pf
Kosta is who he is. While a lot (i.e. almost all) of his offensive production is predicated on whoever the hell else is on the floor with him, you can never really question his effort. While he rebounds better than probably anyone else on this roster and plays the best team defense of any Kings' big man, the Greek (Bare) Peak isn't exactly someone you go to and ask to produce offense for you. There were several possessions where De'Aaron tried to squeeze the ball in to Kosta for the highlight lob but that isn't really Kosta's game either. Either way, another typically solid game from the veteran big man even if it didn't result in the spectacular plays we generally want to see when we pay money to watch pro ball.

De'Aaron Fox (B+) -- 24 min, 14 pt, 4 rbs, 5 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk, 3 tov, 2 pf
Well aside from sheer Lebron-scoring-twentysomething-points-on Doug-freaking-Christie-level dominance this was just about the best debut you could possibly expect from your stud blue chip rookie. It was all on display against the Rockets: the insane speed, the crafty handles, smart defense, the jumper with room for improvement. While the shot remains a work in progress, the fact that De'Aaron runs like he's trying to outrun a stampeding buffalo herd all game renders that a less important point that it would be with another player lacking such a gamebreaking skill. I'm going to talk about Vince Carter not really being athletic enough to play consistently good defense in a bit here but whenever De'Aaron had the ball he made everyone else on the court look like Vince Carter. Maybe Fox's lack of bulk makes him look faster than he actually is but based on a simple eye test I would have a hard time being convinced that he isn't already the quickest player in the entire league.

The Kings caught a bit of a break with CP3 missing the game with a "bruised shin" (pulling a Lonzo?), meaning that the Rockets didn't have a point guard to punish the rookie with. For the most part, Fox played a solid game on that end of the floor. While he had a tendency to creep off of his man on the perimeter, Fox's elite speed means that he can get back in position before the other team can even swing the ball to the open man.

Considering his age, this debut off the bench was more than enough to help fuel the De'Aaron hype train. At the same time, you could see all the things Fox still can do to get better, be it his floor vision or his shooting stroke. Just don't try to gift him with In-n-Out

Vince Carter (C) -- 14 min, 6 pt, 1 rb, 2 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk, 1 tov, 1 pf
The Kings ran a feature in-arena during one of the quarter breaks where the young Kings tried to figure out whether or not Vince Carter was born before or after a variety of "classic" toys and memorabilia. They got most of the questions wrong. I only point this out to remind you that (a) Vince Carter is older than the hills and (b) Vince hasn't really been Vinsanity Vince for at least a decade now. Role player player-coach Vince Carter, however, plays for the Sacramento Kings and looked alright... on offense at least. One of the problems with being a 40-year-old in the NBA is that while you may have accumulated decades of knowledge and tricks in your time in the league, your body has sorta gone down the other direction so while Vince Carter, crafty old dude who can hit three pointers, is an asset on offense, Vince Carter, old dude who can't quite move like he used to, isn't quite as nifty on defense. This isn't to say that he was bad or anything, just that I can see why he's now a bench player limited to fifteen or so minutes a night.

It doesn't make having a dude who was drafted the same season as Jason Williams and Mike Bibby on the team any less cool.

Malachi Richardson (inc but a D probably) -- 6 min, 0 everything, 1 pf
The second year player saw some time in the first half. He didn't do anything with it.

Garrett Temple (B-) -- 30 min, 5 pt, 1 rb, 3 ast, 4 stl, 0 blk, 1 tov, 2 pf
This was an interesting performance in that it combines both incredible defense and ho-hum offense. Garrett came into the game in the first and hit his first three of the game and then largely forgot how to shoot for the rest of the night. Thankfully, the man made up for his offensive struggles by absolutely smothering Harden all night. No, really, this was a Doug Christie-esque "Sure, you're a superstar but you're gonna have to work your ass off for your thirty points tonight" performance. Just didn't give any ground on defense and took advantage of the few times where the 2017 MVP runner-up was lazy with the ball. People like to make fun of Aaron Bruski for his blind love for Garrett Temple but its defensive performances like tonight that remind you that it was an absolute travesty that Garrett didn't get any votes for the All-Defensive Teams last year.
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ard Fought. Expected Result.
I will give Sac credit for harassing Hou on D. Nice grind. First game, at home, and let’s see if we get a repeat performance on Fri against Dallas.
Kings played without Zbo, But Hou played without Paul. I would say Paul’s injury hurt Houston’s spacing and lack of scoring punch more.
Kings weren’t defending the 3 well, the Rockets just weren’t hitting. Until Harden got loose in the 4th.
No matter how close the Kings got, Rockets were always in control. They’re so talented, even when they play lazy and haphazard they still win. Kings don’t have that luxury.

\ Observations:
Fox: B: Nice stats. If he could just hit a jumper, he would be deadly. Good defensive teams will not let him penetrate. Once you take away this part of his game. He is rendered useless. Teams will force him to shoot jumpers.

Hill: Bplus: Solid. Best player on the floor tonite for the Kings
Hield: C: Did not show a lot of confidence until a 4 minutes stretch in the 3rd. Rockets called a TO. He was largely ineffective the rest of the game. Hit a cpl shots in the 4th, when the game was, for all intents over.
Skal: B: Overall, I am surprised. A double/double and played some decent D.
WCS: Cplus Surprising offensive production and inconsistent D. Cappella owned him in the first half.
Justin Jackson: D Game looks a little too fast for him. Early. but his lack of size or speed makes him just a spot shooter right now.
Malachi:: F Looks completely lost out there
Temple: C: As Usual, a great defensive effort. Horrible offensive game. Horrible. What’s up with all those 3s?
Koufas: D: Mediocre and probably should be traded by the deadline.
Carter: C: Made a few shots early.
Fox A-
Hield B
Hill B
Skal B-
Temple B-
Jackson C
Koufos D

Nothing I need to say about Fox.
WCS shows up and silences critics for now at least. Don't think we'll be hearing cries for Koufos or Papa tonight.
Temple didn't shoot well, but gave us the defense we expected.
Skal was passive and made some mistakes but he rebounded well so I don't care.
Hill's a good mitigating veteran presence.
WCS: B+ (great effort, could have been higher grade except Capela maybe biggest overall reason Houston won)
Skal: C+
Koufas: C
Hield: B+ (got hot second half when Kings needed it or might have been blown out)
Fox: B+ (oozing tremendous talent on display, surely will have lots of A- or A grades this season)
Hill: B (steady vet hand throughout, team will need that plenty going forward long NBA season)
Temple: C
Carter: C
Malachi INC
Fox: B- He attacked the rime ferociously, loved seeing him attack, also wasn't afraid to let it fly the 2 or 3 18+ ft shots I did see him take, thought the lone 3 I saw him take clanked, it was let go with out hesitation. I see his arsenal being more in line with Westbrook than Wall at this point, in a few years with 15-20 more pounds I'm sure he'll be dunking just as fiercely. The 2 dunks I saw were both two handed as I recall, impressive for "the skinny" guy coming out of the draft. A couple of the mistakes I saw was de'Aaron getting caught with a high dribble coming down the court and double teamed into a turnover, he'll stop getting caught like this in time.

Buddy: B Some good ball handling harking back to his Oklahoma days, letting de'Aaron show some play off the ball. Hesitated on an open 3 and gave up a good look to cut. Surprise 10 point spurt was nice.

Jackson: C+ Good shots, solid D on Ariza on the perimeter

Skal: B-/C+ Shaky ending, needs more time closing games to be comfortable, but it was obvious he was getting a little shaky when it was getting down to crunch time. Shot was looking good, with time he may become the stretch 4 we dreamed of pairing with Boogie.

WCS: A- Just need him to be more aggressive on the boards, shot from the FT line was pretty crisp, still amazing on defending switch's.
Jackson - B. Just because he didn't make a mistake in his first rookie game. He let the game come to him, and he made a couple of nice shots. Also didn't seem to get burned on D. He is a cerebral player that imo will get better & better.
Fox - A. Couldn't buy an outside shot, but didn't make mistakes, had some nice assists, made a difference on the defensive and offensive end. If he gets down the mid range shot, he'll be a guy on this team who can get a shot when he wants it.
Skal - D. Five turnovers. I just can't give a guy a C or above with five turnovers unless the other stats are excellent. Shoot more; think less. On one possession he was wide open and drove to the basket instead - travelling turnover. Ugh.
Buddy - C. Couldn't shoot worth a darn; then shot up the place. His D was lacking.
WCS - B-. Started the game with an air-ball and a turnover, then seemed to get into the game. An inconsistent offensive performance and a defensive performance not nearly as impactful as one would hope.
Carter - B. Surprised he wasn't used more at the end of the game.
Temple B. Have to give him that for his D. He really saved the Kings' bacon in several situations in which they turned the ball over.
Koufas - D. Played pretty good D, but the rest of his game wasn't good.
Hill - B+. Good D. Good offense. Steady eddy. Kept the game in range.
Malachi - F. Unfortunately, he just doesn't look like an NBA player right now.
ard Fought. Expected Result.

\ Observations:
Fox: B: Nice stats. If he could just hit a jumper, he would be deadly. Good defensive teams will not let him penetrate. Once you take away this part of his game. He is rendered useless. Teams will force him to shoot jumpers.
Fox has a nice mid range jumper already. He is far from useless if, and that is a big IF, you can stop his penetration
I really like the coach starting Jackson right off. Super pleased with this starting lineup. Fox looks like the ROY, and I'm not even homerizing here. I think he takes over for Hill in about 30 games.

Overall we playes a top 5 NBA team down to the wire with a bunch of kids. For the amount of youth we have, we look incredibly well coached.

Jackson wasn't flashy, but showed maturity. That's all I really need from him at this point.

Team needs to pick up the D, especially WCS. At this point I actually have confidence they will, based on vets, our coach, and my psychic kings vision.
Hill B Defense was good, Would like a bit more leadership offensively but he did play ok offensively overall

Hield B+ 19 points, 5 boards, 4 assists on 8/17 shooting. We are going to need numbers like these every night from him.

JJ D Well rookie first game under the belt. Every starter was a net positive in +- tonight except him with a big -15. Can't recall much overly bad he did specifically, just didn't help us in any way.

Skal C- 5 turnovers hurt, but 12 points & 10 boards from him I'd take every night.

WCS A+ 10 of 15 from the floor, 21 points and 12 boards. Can't do any better offensively. Blocked 3 shots, only 1 foul. Great game.


Kosta C Played tough, not much to say about the box score, but overall I don't think he played as bad as some others here. Maybe less on the alley oops coming his way, or forcing the ball to him in isolation as much in the post. Blame the team in general for some of his play tonight.

Fox A- Fast, fast , fast. Looked great running the floor, was patient as well running the offense when it suited. 7 of 15 not bad rookie. Would of got an A from me if his outside shot looked a bit better.

Carter B Came in and hit his open 3's, Feels a whole lot more reliable than Tolliver with an open shot for what vibes are worth. Stupid turnover. But You take this every night from a 40 year old specialist.

Richardson D- Just nothing of merit to show tonight.

Temple B Was so great defensively tonight, offset his atrocious 1-7 from the floor.
It's starting to get kind of irritating that most people don't seem to appreciate what Koufos brings to the team. He was fantastic in the first half. Not so good in the second half but he played great defense and was much more effective than the box score shows. This guy is our best paint defender and stops opposing offenses in the lane as much as any backup C does in the league. He's also our best rebounder. His play certainly isn't going to get him traded.

Shout out to Cauley Stein for shutting me up for complaining about his lack of rebounding and blocked shots. He kind of let Capela go off but I'd like to see more of this kind of aggressive play. Loved those offensive rebounds.
I agree with pretty much what everyone is saying. I'll throw one more out there though. Dave joerger gets an A from me. In addition to countering a lot of the rockets lineups, I liked his creativity. Playing small and fast with hill, fox, and hield. Going long with skal, wcs, and Jackson. I also like that he always had fox out there with either hill or temple as a back court mate. A few times I caught them talking to him after he made a mistake. Typical good coaching, but just thought I'd give him a shout out.
I'd like to see Bogdan start with Hill and Buddy when he gets healthy. Will provide that starting unit some more playmaking and more floor spacing.

Agree with you here, Justin Jackson shouldn't be starting. BB8 would be better option in starting lineup, even if we give up a little size at SF.
Fox - A
Hill - B+
Hield - B
WCS - B (defense was a bit iffy)
Vince - B+
Jackson - B
Koufos - C (just too many offensive blunders)
Temple - A- (great steals)
Skal - B-

Defense - B
Coaching - B

Overall, very enjoyable first game. Good energy and confidence by the rooks. I hate Houston, just an awful boring way to play basketball..

Mason should play, kinda sucks he's on the back burner. He seems most NBA ready... I like the team, but Joerger's inside finesse shot obsession will be the death of me. Luckily we have some guys who can do that though

Capt. Factorial

Cantry Member
Staff member
Stat of the Game:

NBA average FTs awarded per PF called, over last 5 years: ~1.15
Tonight, Rockets FTs awarded per Kings PF called: 1.45 (best in the NBA tonight, tied with Orlando)
Tonight, Kings FTs awarded per Rockets PF called: 0.71 (worst in the NBA tonight: Denver 0.67)
My favorite thing about Fox other than his speed, was definitely his decision making and patience. I’m so used to bonehead players rushing things that I was expecting quick shots in transition or after a broken play, and he’d literally pull it back wisely each and every time. That’s rare.
Stat of the Game:

NBA average FTs awarded per PF called, over last 5 years: ~1.15
Tonight, Rockets FTs awarded per Kings PF called: 1.45 (best in the NBA tonight, tied with Orlando)
Tonight, Kings FTs awarded per Rockets PF called: 0.71 (worst in the NBA tonight: Denver 0.67)
Can you explain this a bit more if possible?
Fox A- - loved his game last night! He showed everything i wanted to see from him - quickness, speed, ball handling, attacking the basket, finishing around the rim, passing, making good decisions (!). He seemed very mature and smart out there... He had 2 bad passes, but overrall, he had great debut. Teammates really trust him. Hope he will continue on that level
Hill B - he stepped up with points when his teammates struggled. Good game, just like i expected from experienced player like him.
Hield B - he was struggling in the first half, but he was taking good shots and showing some effort in defense. It paid off later, i love Buddy when he is on fire.
Temple B- - great steals, good defense and ball distributing, but that wasn't his shooting night. That type of performance is what i expect from him, just with hitting 1/2 more threes.
Malachi C- - unfortunately, airball three made him pretty unconfident
Vince C+ - good shooting, but few bad reactions in the 4th quarter. However, i like his mentoring during the game and i feel more confident when he is on the court.
Jackson C+ - his stats weren't impressive, but few shoots just fell off. He played good defense with no bad decisions in the offense.
Skal B- - active on rebounding, good midrange shoots, protecting the rim better than usual, and solid defense overrall. It's just, his decision making are questionable sometimes. PF shouldn't have 5 turnovers.
WCS A- - he started awful, 2 bad shoots, offensive foul, turnover, but then he turned the things around all over. Active on offensive rebound, protecting the rim, hitting few midrange shoots, making some left sky hooks, playing with a lot of energy... That's WCS i want to see more often.
Koufos C - he is one smart bigman, but he didn't play smart at all last night. He was solid on rebound, but few bad shoots and thats pretty much all he did last night.

Overrall, im very pleased.
Aside from running the offense needlessly through Skal/KK which killed us the effort/improvement was fantastic and good to see Hill back to his old self.