The Game Thread Dude
In a move that stunned absolutely no one, the Kings responded to a four game losing streak and rumors of Luke Walton's seat being hotter than an Icelandic volcano by casually wiping the floor with the Detroit Pistons, who are probably the worst team in the league for another year. I say that this wasn't surprising, not because I expected the Kings to respond well in the face of adversity but because I fully expect the Kings to do whatever is in their worst long-term interest.
Anyways, the Kings won and are now sitting at 10th in the west again at 6-8. Will that win against the Pistons help jumpstart the Kings back to basketball competency? Not if Luke Walton has anything to say about it!
Tony Delk Memorial Award- Cade Cunningham. This isn't a Cade **** post. I think Cade is going to be an all-star in this league and still think there's a really good chance he winds up being the best player of this draft class. On the other hand, Cade has had an absolutely terrible start to his NBA career as a shooter and hasn't really looked too impressive in a Detroit offense that has been lackluster (to say the least) to start the year. Against the Kings, however, Cade nearly had a triple-double and went 5-11 from three despite being .276 on the season. I figured it was going to happen sooner rather than later because Cade is too good to just suck forever but I kinda hoped it wouldn't happen against the Kings. Alas, it did.
Cory Joseph Award- Cory Joseph. The Cory Joseph experience apparently is more than just a Kings thing. This game saw Cory Joseph iso up, miss shots, kinda look slow on defense, and generally looking annoyed with his teammates, something that we came to love and enjoy on a nightly basis during his two plus seasons in Sacramento. To Dwayne Casey's credit, he sorta benched CoJo after his first stint whereas Luke probably would have played him the entirety of the second half instead of Tyrese and Davion for some reason.
Jimmer Fredette Super Prospect Award- Killian Hayes. In what I am sure was a nightmare matchup for Pistons fans, Tyrese Haliburton had his best game of the season against the dude that the Pistons passed on him to draft. A 6'5" guard, Hayes generally looks like the sort of guy you'd be fine with taking with a high lottery pick but pretty much lacks any of the skills that you would associate with someone getting payed to play basketball. Against the Kings, Hayes put up several airballs and looked like he was actively trying to learn how to dribble mid-game en route to a 0 point, 5 rebound, 3 assist night in 23 minutes. Not great when the guy the Pistons were commonly getting slotted to take in mock drafts is putting up a double-double and generally looking like the best player on the court for a lot of the evening.
Marvin Bagley Business School Award- Marvin Bagley. Well, that certainly was exciting, wasn't it? After a tumultuous first couple of weeks to the season in which Bagley's agent released a press release before opening night about the Kings not including his client in the rotation to start the year and Marvin reportedly refusing to enter a game just a few weeks later, Bagley saw his first significant action of the season against the one team in the league we've actually been told is interested in him. The results were, uh, mixed as Marvin played like a guy who hasn't played all season, missing shots and defensive rotations and just sorta generally looking lost for stretches at a time. When asked after the game, Luke said that he played Marvin to help our rebounding but Mark only pulled down three in 17 minutes and was out rebounded by Tristan Thompson, who played two less minutes than him.
WTF Moment- With the game well out of hand by the end of the third quarter, Luke still plays his starters into the middle of the fourth quarter, running them into ground and sorta just making the game seem a little worse than it was.
Kings @ Timberwolves
The Timberwolves started the season at 3-1, looking like a much improved defensive team and sporting an exciting young core(super Wolves just moderately young!) to build around. Since then, they've gone 1-8 and have looked bad at offense with a defense that wound up being merely mediocre with a roster that only features one legit big man.
I don't think the Wolves are a bad team but they are poorly constructed with a laughable amount of shooting guards and a bunch of tweener forwards who can't shoot a lick. They do have KAT, who is having another spectacular season shooting from the perimeter but having a down year in pretty much any other statistic out there. Also their GM got caught sleeping with his employee and got canned a few days before the season started. AND I haven't even mentioned A-Rod buying their team yet.
All in all, this a completely winnable game for the Kings but with the pressure now slightly off Luke Walton, I can totally see them having a complete letdown game and letting the Wolves chew them up like dog chow.
Richaun Holmes vs. Karl-Anthony Towns- Considering how much bigger Towns is than Holmes, you'd assume this is another one of those matchups that Holmes would just automatically lose but KAT is pretty much just a 7'0" outside shooter at this point so I'm not sure him bullying Holmes inside is really on the table. Advantage: KAT
Chimezie Metu vs. Jarred Vanderbilt- This is where the weird Minnesota roster starts to show itself. Vanderbilt isn't a terrible player (there were, in fact, some people wanting the Kings to get him during the offseason) but he absolutely refuses to shoot from the perimeter and his presence sorta forces KAT to stand around the perimeter (not that he's the type to get deep into the paint anyway. Vanderbilt is a great rebounder for his build and size and slid on the defensive end. Metu's coming off his first double-double and has been a pleasant surprise as a starting four since Luke randomly woke up and relegated Moe to the bench. Offensively, Metu has more to offer than Vanderbilt and if his shot is going tonight, it could set the Kings up for success. Advantage: Draw
Harrison Barnes vs. Anthony Edwards- Anthony Edwards starts at small forward for the Wolves despite really being more of a two-guard physically. The first overall pick in last year's draft, Edwards has excelled after a rough start under Ryan Saunders. Athletic as all hell, Edwards is still in his athletic inefficient shotchucker phase but has been Minni's clearcut 1B option this season. He isn't, however, a small forward. Advantage: Draw
Tyrese Haliburton vs. D'Angelo Russell- D-Lo's value peaked when the Warriors gave him a max contract and then convinced the T-Wolves to give up lotto picks for him. While Russell has a bit of a reputation as a shooter, he is certainly a little too streaky to be elite at this point in his career. He isn't exactly a pure point guard either ad still mostly an inadequate defender although he's been putting in the effort there this season. Tyrese, meanwhile, is coming off his best game of the year. Advantage: Tyrese
De'Aaron Fox vs. Patrick Beverley- PatBev was the T-Wolves' biggest acquisition of the offseason as a veteran guard who could play defense and help the young kids learn how to win. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is the same strategy they tried by bringing back Ricky Rubio last season and the same plan the Kings have had in their past signings of George Hill and Cory Joseph. Yes, it would appear that bringing in mediocre point guards in the hope that they'll magically fix everything is a true trope of bad NBA franchises everywhere. Beverly has played well this season, probably doing so in the hope that any increased value results in the T-Wolves trading him off to a contender come trade season. De'Aaron's never had particular trouble with Patrick Beverly on him but, with the story of his season being that of a struggling player, we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. Advantage: Fox
Kings Bench vs. Wolves Bench- As if three scoring guards who struggle at running an offense in the starting lineup wasn't enough, the Wolves also have streaky scoring guard Malik Beasley as their sixth man. Josh Okogie is another undersized wing (he's the same size as Edwards and Russell) who can't shoot but tried hard on defense. By far the most intriguing player on the Wolves' bench is Jaden McDaniels, a long, thin 6'9" forward who's shown great potential on both ends of the floor at times but has been an absolutely terrible shooter to start the season. The Kings meanwhile have a 6'4" scoring guard of their own on the bench and Davion Mitchell. I'd expect TT to get the nod for minutes here since the Wolves literally have no one on their active roster who is taller than 6'9" aside from KAT. Advantage: Kings.
After that terrible start to the road trip, the Kings are in the position to put themselves right back on track with a win against the Wolves here. Do they do it? Years of conditioning tell me know but the optimist in me says yes! The Kings aren't the only team in the league with issues and the T-Wolves are no exception and, unlike the T-Wolves, the Kings unbalanced roster isn't completely devoid of interchangeable pieces. Now, if only we could trade one of our bigs for one of their 3/4s.
Kings 112, Wolves 104