Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

August 15, 2008
Moving beyond Ron-Ron

In my first few years being around Geoff Petrie, I was convinced he sat at home writing those philosophical one-liners he's so known for.
But now I really don't think so. He drops them far too frequently - and often in a context that would prohibit him from doing his quote work in advance - to suggest this is such a calculated effort. It is, apparently, just Petrie living up to his billing as a Princeton wiz.
Sure enough, he had another one yesterday as it pertained to the Ron Artest trade and the looming presence of the departed star.
"You know, if you have a big shade tree, shade's good to a point," Petrie said. "But if there's too much shade, then the grass doesn't get to grow."
Lest anyone think he goes to the Petrie-isms simply to look like the smartest guy in the room, don't miss the part about his comment being dead-on. This trade, in many ways, was about the need to remove Artest from the yard so Petrie's other seedlings didn't die in the dirt. With that in mind, let us glance at the roster as it now stands and the roles as I see them in their changed state...

PG - Beno Udrih (Backed by Bobby squared - Brown and Jackson)

"Go Beno go!" is the newest Kings TV show, a Slovenian version of "Go Diego Go!" (Can you tell I have a little one?), where Udrih pushes the tempo like never before. Artest can do a lot of things, but running the floor wasn't his forte. Udrih will need to perfect the break and has the personnel to do it.

SG - Kevin Martin (backed by Francisco Garcia and Quincy Douby)

As Kings coach Reggie Theus said even last season, Martin should be finding six to eight points per game outside of the half-court set. In addition to playing the role of scoring gazelle on the run, he'll have to deal with increased double teams with Artest off the scouting report. Martin will need to embrace those looks with a Kobe-esque sort of aggressiveness and edge, but Theus' ability to implement more motion into the offense than he did last season will be key, too.

SF - John Salmons (Backed by Garcia and Donte' Greene)

It should be some time - as in years - until Greene becomes the starter here, meaning Salmons finally has the starting job he always wanted. As Petrie said on Thursday, Salmons was a beast as a starter last season. But coming off the bench, he was a shell of himself. The evidence, per NBA.com...

G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% REB APG SPG PPG

As A Starter 41 41 38.1 .497 .385 .811 5.4 3.5 1.6 17.5
As A Substitute 40 0 23.9 .430 .214 .846 3.2 1.6 0.7 7.4

As has been said countless times before, Salmons needs to avoid being such a ball-stopper. His one-on-one skills, however, should keep defenses from loading up on Martin. What's more, he is a superior passer to Artest and a phenomenal defender in his own right to help with the loss of Ron-Ron's lockdown skills. No one has a chance to grow more with Artest gone than Salmons and Garcia.

PF - Mikki Moore (backed by Shelden Williams, Jason Thompson and Kenny Thomas)

It's a contract year for Moore, who is entering his 11th season and has had countless travels overseas and otherwise in between. While he signed a three-year deal in 2007, it includes an option in which the Kings could pay $2 million of his $6.2 million salary if they wanted to part ways next summer.

So, needless to say, Moore will be on a mission to show he deserves to stick around. His leadership will be huge, as he can turn his attention to the youngsters after spending much of his talking time with Artest last season. Artest respected and listened to Moore perhaps like no one else on the team.

On the floor, Moore's energy and - once again - ability to run and finish with aplomb will be huge. He should get at least a few more looks that he so badly wants on offense with Artest not dominating things anymore, and he needs to continue improving his pick-and-roll game with Udrih. But Artest rebounded, too, meaning Moore must find a way to pick up his production on the boards. Williams and Thompson will most certainly eat into his playing time, presenting yet another challenge to Moore of keeping his head during those stints on the bench.

C - Brad Miller (backed by Spencer Hawes)

The first five games will be full of intrigue, as Miller's suspension means Hawes will get a chance to show his progress. Miller, however, still qualifies as the clear No. 1 and will need to repeat his play of last season for this team to have a prayer at playoff contention.

Theus should be able to run more sets through Miller at the high post with Artest gone, as the supporting cast (assuming Salmons improves in this area) is more motion-capable than they were with the Tru Pounder. Miller needs to be more vocal in the locker room, too, with the Artest absence meaning he's less likely to be shouted down or, um, overshadowed.

The X-factor for Miller will be his defense, as he'll need to convince his 32-year-old frame to get up for those blocks and boards the way it did last year.

Your Sacramento Kings, folks. Let the growing begin. - Sam Amick



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