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Kings vs. Grizzlies Preview: The Gifts That Keep On Giving

The Kings are getting some key players and their coach back today. Will it make a difference against a suddenly slumping Memphis squad?
By | 7 Comments | Dec 26, 2021

It’s the day after Christmas and all through the city, people are pondering watching a team that’s this shitty. New merch in the team store hung up with care, hoping more than ten thousand people’ll be there…and one stupid blogger in his mommy’s basement, previewing a game full of player replacements!

The Memphis Grizzlies are in town and looking to halt a three game losing streak by returning to the site of their very last win! Can the Kings dig deep and find a way to best these bears? Is De’Aaron Fox coming back tonight?! What’s the worst gift you got this year and why is it the previously written paragraph??

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: Sunday, December 26nd, 3:00 PM PT

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA – Kyle Draper (play-by-play)

RadioKHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Grin and Bear It: So it sounds like we’re getting some of the squad back for this afternoon’s game… and whether or not that has any impact on a the eventual score, eh, I’m not sure! Terence Davis, Lou King and Marvin Bagley III have all cleared NBA protocols and are expected to be available for the Kings, and head coach Alvin Gentry has also been cleared to get back to the bench. There’s also a chance that De’Aaron Fox returns – he’s been upgraded to questionable tonight. There’s no such thing as too much depth for the Kings and I’m looking forward to having some of these guys as options for Gentry and assumed starting point guard Tyrese Haliburton to use, but I will say that I’m going to miss this little mini-era we’ve had the last few weeks. If Fox does indeed come back tonight, we’ll see the end of two curious experiments: Doug Christie, NBA Head Coach as well as Tyrese Haliburton, Primary Ballhandler. Is it the biggest of deals? Hell no. Christie’s got a decent shot of becoming a head coach, somewhere and someday, and with the way Hali has performed with Fox out, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kings lean more and more on him in that regard. But, I will say that there’s a certain amount of fun that came with the low-expectations of a guy who went from broadcaster to head coach in less than a year commanding an NBA sophomore with a mandate from the franchise that was simply “Ball the hell out”.  They both did their jobs, showed to varying levels why there’s some hype built around them inside the organization and I’ll remember this little run with some fondness.

Tonight’s game is going to be rough. Ja Morant is back with his team, who surged when he was out and are still trying to figure out just how the ball moves with him back at the helm. They’re dangerous, deeply talented and know they’ve beaten the Kings with less. Coach Gentry being back and with some added weapons won’t hurt but rust for someone like Terence Davis, is always going to be a factor with these guys being added back in. If Fox gets added to the starting lineup tonight, that’s a whole other ball of wax. We’ve seen what Tyrese can do with Fox out and the Kings cannot afford to let that version of him slip away, back into 2-5 shooting nights and deferring to Fox. The fastest way to Monte McNair’s playoff hopes is that Hali brings a high scoring Fox into his fold and not the other way around. We’ll probably get to argue all of this from whenever Fox returns onward till the end of the season but the Kings go as both of these guys go – and it’s time Hali fully understands that.

Alright! Early game! Go Kings, stay safe and umm, sorry I didn’t get you anything!

Prediction

Christmas hangovers plus travel time leave the Grizzlies looking forward to hibernating a bit too early.

Kings: 119, Grizzlies: 105

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Jman1949
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December 26, 2021 12:31 pm

Lost two in a row, not surprising,
Expectations quickly subsiding.
Now the Grizzlies are back—
They’ll be on the attack—
Don’t need more than that analyzing!

RikSmits
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December 26, 2021 12:56 pm

Hah. Mini-era’s are so our thing.

Clinging desperately to small sample sizes of decent play to convince ourselves that we were almost “there” (usually near the 8/9th spot).

On to the next mini-era!

Brizz
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December 26, 2021 1:09 pm

I wish we could just write off this season and let DC coach it out so we can see what he’s got. We know what we are getting with Gentry.

kings4ever
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December 26, 2021 1:35 pm

If you ask the wrong question, what value does the answer have?

Fans ask, can Fox and Ty learn to play together? Can they both be dominant at the same time? Can Fox play off the ball better than he has? Can Ty show the impact and floor generalship he showed in absence of Fox? Can Fox continue his 61% TS% in 7 games this month, being the mid-range assassin and elite at the rim? These are wrong questions if you want to be a serious team. 

Even answered in the affirmative you avoid the funadamental issue. What about checking the best point of attack PG? Who does this legitimately so not to place undue burden on teammates defensively or offensively to score 130 points? Fox does not do it. He’s proven that, sadly. Ty doesn’t, but no one expected him to. Ty, master off-ball defender, can have hard time on-ball keeping guys his size in front of him, nevermind players smaller and faster.  
Fans say, “Well, Fox needs to figure it out, try harder, he’s the max guy, he needs to earn his max dollars”. So the problem is Fox is not trying hard enough? The guy who got choked up when his heart was questioned whether he cared? If only he wanted it more?  

Unsophisticated fans of losing teams resort to empty mantras like “the player (team) does not care”, “the effort was not there”, “they need to figure it out”. And in regard to personnel moves, “you gotta roll the dice”, “you gotta take a chance”, “change is needed” , as if change cannot be for the worse, in lieu of substance, objectivity and insight. These same fans speak of blowing up, throwing the baby out with the bath water, before pursuing viable solutions in theory. There is a time to push the denotator button but we are not there because the answer to the right question, precedent to all, is waiting to be discovered.

MEM destroyed us last go around, 105-124. Men against boys. Bane and Brooks were punking us and letting us know about it. Teammates were frolicking on the sidelines like they were at Mardi Gras. The only thing missing was the beads around their necks and topless women flashing for said beads. If only SAC wanted it more, played harder, if Ty was not so passive, if Fox cared more, the outcome could have been different. This rationalization is weak sauce and missing the heart of the matter. 

Maybe MEM was giving 95% effort while we gave 90%. Yet if we brought 95% maybe they would have raised their effort to 100% in response to the competive challenge. Effort in competition is relative. Maximum effort does not promise you will not get routed anymore than it promises you do the routing. It is human nature to become deflated when being run off the floor, creating the illusion of not caring. Losing teams always say they need to try harder, look in the mirror, want it more, have a players-only meeting. It is bullshit and cover for a reality harder to face: inferior schemes, strategy and personnel.  

Talent is king and correct use of requisite talent is king of kings. Last year I was harping incessantly about moving HB to the 4, sending Marvin to the bench, starting three guards with Ty, Fox and Buddy, and giving Kyle Guy, currently 22 PPG 7 RPG and 5 APG for CLE Charge, a fair shot over CoJo on the second team. The latter never happened and former happened belatedly. 

Bjelica, who lost 20 lbs after he was here, hello jawline, stopped launching ridiculous threes, got outplayed by Dedmon in MIA, before GSW, where they do not tolerate nonsense, needed to be benched or sent home. Instead he was given multiple unearned chances by the former coach and a complete pass by the fans on this forum. 

This was misassessment in talent (CoJo over Guy) and the misuse of talent (Bagley over HB, rewarding unprofessionalism from Bjelica) that prevented a play-in birth. 

Effort and lack thereof is relevant only when blatant. Until then, it is fair to presume players give a damn and play (relatively) hard. It is called pride and inherent to high level athletes to show pride and competitiveness. No one at this level wants to be posterized before thousands of jaw dropped witnesses. 

Bjelica was blatantly not trying. This is the exception. You cannot say this about Fox or the team in general. For as much grief as I give Backed Up Buddy, the “elite” shooter, who plays like he has a SAC king sized log stuck in the chamber, his struggles are not effort based. He has a talent deficit, including the talent of discernment.  The team has a talent deficit too especially at the wing. Since you cannot solve this in one fell swoop without a willing trade partner, the best you can do until the glorious day and Woj Bomb arrives is properly use the talent you possess. This did not happen last year, nor this year, but it is not too late if the interim has his wits and cojones about him.

Jones vs Fox (if hes back) is not an appealing defensive matchup. Theres no reason Fox should get abused by Jones, but Davion (when he is back) is the guy you want to assign here. Obviously. And not 6-8 minutes into the game but from the opening tip. With the uncertainty of participants I am using the MEM game here and below as a proxy for any game, you wil get the idea. 

Turn Jones teammates more into playmakers, get them out of their comfort zone. Set the tone for an off night or create conditions for the opponent to wilt in the crunch, making them work more than they otherwise would and tire them out in the waning moments. This is a bold hit-first strategy versus dithering bullshit, take your pick. 

If Ja plays, Fox on Ja is okay but Davion on Ja is better. I like Fox on Brooks better than Ty on Brooks. Fox would rather check Brooks than Jones (or Ja) too. With his weight room commitment, I strongly suspect Fox would rather have his strength tested than his quickness taxed. Regardless of what he wants this defensive shift is proper assessment of talent and usage thereof.  

Against almost every opponent Fox is better assigned to SGs, keeping him fresh and spry to score 25-30 PPG, effeciently, paving the way for Davion to start and lockdown opposing PG or at least make life tough. This is where our advantage lies. This is scarcely debatable! 

Since Ty is not suitable as a formiddable PG defender, nor Fox, Davion needs to be promoted, as he was for one game. Because you can no longer demote Ty on the heels of his 20/10 run, four games in a row and counting, all three players, who by the way, are our three most talented players, are awarded starting nods. Done and done and done. 

The right question therefore is can you start Davion, Fox and Ty; with both Ty and Fox sliding down one position defensively, and kick some leaguewide ass? As I said I think Fox will do much better checking SGs than PGs. I can not say if Ty will do better on SFs than SGs but it is a question worth pursuing.

The wrong question is can Ty and Fox excel with HB at SF because neither guard is suited to lockdown opposing PGs, so who cares if they both happen to score 20+ points vs NOP in Feb? Even if they fire on all cylinders, it would create a false sense of security, because you will often trade buckets. Why waste time with this? You want to be able to win when shots are amiss, and prevent bricklaying construction in the first place by having a defense that leads to offense. Giannis can be all world on offense, but the Bucks are champs because when he and his team sputter to score, they get stops. And their stops lead to the cessation of the sputtering.  

Your best defensive lineup facilitates offense. And in this context Davion is showing growth on the other end. In 7 games this month, he has boosted his scoring from 8 PPG to 12 PPG on 49% FGs (46% on 3s in 24 attempts) and near 5:1 assist to turnover ratio (29 to 8). The argument that had merit one month ago, that Davion is a one way situational player who cannot be trusted to create offense for himself or others, is rapidly losing steam.  

If Fox, Ty and Davion can play together, more than just play but fluorish, individually and collectively, pending a 15-20 game sample size, 32-35 MPG apiece, starting and finishing games, the subsequent question is how round out your starters? Not just to be good, but be great. Not for one season but for better half of the next decade.

You want bruisers and deniers in the paint, passers and dominance on the boards to compensate for suboptimal size on the guard line and SF. In this vision and pursuit, HB becomes expendable for a better rebounding and defending. Holmes becomes expendable too because he is an undersized center and hesistant passer. Unless he wants to convert to PF, bye and thanks for the memories. 

In lieu of elite shooting, we need guys who move, juke, pass, catch and finish. This is the template. We need an actualized version of Queta, the shotblocking rebounding passing prowess with 7’4 wingspan. We want to round out this unit with Sabonis or Siakam. Siakam has elite size for PF and untapped go-to scoring moves. He can be a nifty passer. Siabonis does not have elite size, but he is masterful passer and rebounder. Either guy can play in the high to low post as facilitator, as can Queta, alleviating pressure off the guards and creating backdoor plays and general slice and dice half court paradigm. 

Ah yes, it is all coming together, when you start with the right questions. 

The other right question is who has the trade value to get me what I need? According to Jerry Reynolds inquiring with his league contacts, these players are HB and Holmes, not our guards. Well, isn’t this fortuitous?! The team I hypothetically constructed is without these two, using them as bait for our homerun acquisition, probable 2022 pick added, to bring us frontline size to offset our lack of size elsewhere.

This philosophical approach is similar to the Cavs construction, smallish in the backcourt, huge in the paint.

One more question is where does our edge lie? How do we dominate the league? With unit of Fox, Davion, Ty, actualized version of Queta, Sabonis or Siakam, you do not have elite shooting (at least among the starters), but you do not need it. You have good to special passers at all positions. That will make for a scintillating unstoppable attack! More than enough defense (Top 5-10), more than enough offense (Top 5-10) from within the arc. You have go-to scorers but it is the contagious sharing that sets you over the top, takes you to the pinnacle, mountaintop destined. 

SAC will be the ones wearing beads, partying to dawn as the punkers instead of the punked. You have guys who can share the ball to rival the best team in Kings history with Vlade, C-Webb and Bibby. And defend as well or better, something this former team underatedly did. It is a nod to the past with an eye to the future, with strategic intent the best is yet to come It would be sorry ashame to trade Davion, Fox or Ty before deciding if they can work together as starters, if our ultimate edge is partly found with this combination. It would be regrettable to fail to ask the right question and not seek unequivocal answer, wherever it leads. 

SelecaoKOJ
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December 26, 2021 2:30 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

Props for the Diatribe. I suspect Spiked Eggnog may have some influence. Delusions of Granduer are acceptable during the holidays. In reality… This Team still needs a lot of talent. Staying the course is what the Kings have been doing for 16 years. It’s also deluded aspiration if you think Barnes/Hield etc is going to land you one of Siakem, Sabonis, or any other All Star fringe player. The only party you will be attending come April is 32-37 wins and the 10th pick in the draft. Oh yes, that play in elimination.This team as currently constructed is no better than that. Not conjecture. But, facts. Kings are only in this silly play in conversation for one reason alone. The ravages of NBA covid and teams dealing with various injuries to their star players. Otherwise, Kings are what they are Mediocre at Best. Optimism is always welcome. Even if it’s highly improbable.

Last edited 2 years ago by SelecaoKOJ
Kingsguru21
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December 26, 2021 3:51 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

Go forth McGenius! You have marching orders!

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