It was a good night for everyone with the Kings at “The Pit.”
OK, so maybe not everyone.
It turns out that long after the Kings’ 105-91 win over Utah at the University of New Mexico, beat writers for the Jazz stumbled upon a sacred document that was mistakenly left in, of all places, the media room.
A scouting report.
The ins and outs of the Jazz and what the Kings think of them are documented by Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune. And while it's surely going to ruffle someone's feathers in the Kings organization, fans should enjoy a rare look at how these players get broken down and dissected.
Some more fine work from the Utah folks...
While I hit on the the Jason Hart vs. Ronnie Price point guard battle that now continues in Utah, Tim Buckley of the Deseret Morning News has an extended look.
In the interest of feeding the starving Kings fan and because there's so much focus on reserve roster spot battles during the preseason, I had a chance to catch up with the Kings who will actually matter most come November.
Mike Bibby, for starters, enjoys how he's being used in the offense so far.
"They’re running me off some screens now instead of me always having the ball in my hands, so that’s good," Bibby said.
He's off to a slow shooting start, though, having hit 19 of 55 shots overall (34.5 percent) through four games and 6 of 15 three-pointers. The more important shots, Bibby noted, are the ones he'll take more and more on his own as the regular season nears.
"I'm alright," Bibby said. "It's coming down to the end of preseason, so I'll start getting up my dose of (practice) shots . I haven't got my normal shots up really. I've just got to get my wind and just get in the aspect of picking (that) up."
Bibby continues to draw praise for his willingness to defend, and it seems as if an agreement that satisfied both parties is in place. In short, Bibby has long complained that help defense, aka team defense, is more of a problem for the Kings than lack of individual defense. It's been a point of discussion between Bibby and Kings coach Reggie Theus, who has promised to hold every player accountable during those times when blown rotations or being out of position lead to easy buckets. So far he has, and the collective confidence and trust among teammates seems to be in place.
"We’re helping each other a lot," Bibby said. "When we help each other, good things happen."
Meanwhile, Kevin Martin has been the quiet killer of the preseason. The Kings fourth-year shooting guard worked extensively on every nuance of his offensive attack during the offseason, most of it during his annual time spent with his personal coach, David Thorpe. In one practice session at the Kings practice facility that I observed, the task of the day was for Kevin to learn how to keep his options open when he drives the lane. In the past, Thorpe was noting, Kevin would pick up his dribble if his first plan of attack didn't work, then often find himself stuck and passing out while the flow of the offense stalled. The goal, then, was to keep the dribble alive and transition quickly into a second, or stalled, attack. Sure enough, I've seen him execute that approach numerous times so far, and it seems as good a sign as any that he is certainly still improving. The damage thus far? Martin is 27 of 44 from the field (61.4 percent), 5 of 11 from three-point range, 27 of 30 from the free-throw line, and averaging 21.5 points. The insanity of it all? He's averaging 24.8 minutes per game.
"I'm very happy," Martin said when asked about his overall self assessment in the preseason. "I feel real good about the way I’m playing, about the way we’re playing as a team. Everything’s going smoothly."
Lastly, and by far most importantly, Kings center Brad Miller has officially ditched those awful corn rows. He claims the braids were starting to come unraveled.
“I’m not going to do them if they don’t look good,” he said with a laugh.
Not too sure they ever did, Brad. - Sam Amick