Kings Blog and Q&A

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

December 16, 2008
Opening tip: Meet the new plan, same as the old plan

Kings (7-18) at Trail Blazers (15-10)

Scoring: Kings 14th (98.5), Trail Blazers 15th (98.3).
Shooting: Kings 22nd (46 percent), Trail Blazers 19th (45.7).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (106), Trail Blazers ninth (95.2).
Shooting defense: Kings tied for 27th (47.7 percent), Trail Blazers tied for 23rd (46.4)
Turnovers: Kings 22nd (15.7), Trail Blazers fifth (13.1).

The links: Trail Blazers coverage in the Oregonian.
The almanac: On this date in 1961, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors began a streak of seven consecutive games with at least 50 points, a record.

__________


Joe Maloof said as recently as last week, with the Kings at 6-16, that "We're not out of it yet," and Reggie Theus restated about the same time that playing time would be based on the best chance to win that night, not finding more minutes for young players who will provide the best chance to win in 2009-10 and beyond. It was the ultimate, ongoing conflict for a team needing to generate excitement to sell tickets and wanting to build on the promise of the future.


So it was only logical that Kenny Natt get the question his first night as Theus' successor:

Will you commit additional minutes to the prospects or continue to give Brad Miller, Mikki Moore and Bobby Jackson run?

"I don't really know what I'm going to do with the minutes," Natt said after Monday's victory over the Timberwolves. "Obviously we want to keep the guys in as much as possible and give them an opportunity and get better. But we're in the business of trying to win basketball games too, because this is a team and you have other guys ready for an opportunity to play. Yes, we will try and give them all the minutes that we can, and the better that they play -- I hope they continue to play as well as they did tonight. That will save Brad and the veterans and make them fresher for down the road later in the season."

A bit of walking the middle of the line. But anyone worried about Miller's fresh factor in March and April is making a strong statement that he's going to make sure Miller is able to produce then. That, and "we're in the business of trying to win basketball games."

Told he seemed to be saying he would stay the course, Natt replied: "We're planning to keep it pretty much the same."

Theus did well with the unwinnable task of making the playoffs, something ownership and Geoff Petrie considered realistic, while also investing heavily in the youth. (The forever flashing-neon contradiction: giving Quincy Douby real chances in place of Jackson and getting criticized by fans and media when Douby missed shots.) There was never a clear direction set for the priority of the 2008-09 Kings.

But, again, Theus did well with it. Spencer Hawes developed. Jason Thompson got a lot of minutes. Theus eventually moved Hawes ahead of Moore at power forward, taking a hit on defense at a time the Kings could not afford to do worse there.

The circumstances, strangely, helped Theus. Injuries and suspension created so many holes most of his abbreviated 2008-09 that it meant easier access to the court for the young players who might not ordinarily have been there. Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia as constant presences in the lineup change everything.

The numbers the first 24 games:

  • Miller: 32.3 minutes, 19 starts in 19 games.
  • Hawes: 29.5 minutes, 12 starts in 24 games.
  • Thompson: 25 minutes, 10 starts in 24 games.
  • Moore: 19.9 minutes, 14 starts in 20 games.
And among the wings:



  • Jackson: 17.9 minutes, two starts in 23 games.

  • Brown: 15.5 minutes, zero starts in 22 games.

  • Douby: 12.9 minutes, zero starts in 14 games.

  • Donte Greene: 14.3 minutes, four starts in 18 games.


That's obviously removing Martin, Garcia, John Salmons and Beno Udrih from the conversation. They play, period.



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