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Chainmail: Talkin’ rotations, Fox’s struggles, and Halloween

You asked, we answered!

Welcome back to Chainmail! This week, special guest Brenden Nunes joined the panel! Please note that these answers were submitted prior to Sacramento's game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday evening.

From 1951:

SSS approved question: Why does Luke Walton insist on featuring Tristan Thompson as the backup big over Len when second-half defensive suckatude is the biggest bugaboo of the season so far?

Tim: This one's tough for me. Personally, I would play Alex Len over Tristan Thompson, but I don't know if there's anything absolutely egregious about going the other way with things. Len is a better rim protector and plays well within his role, while Thompson offers elite rebounding and the ability to switch onto smaller players (albeit not very well), and it's clear his leadership has made a significant impact on the team, at least off of the court. Either player is going to be an okay choice at this point in the season.

Will: I think the “Why” of this question is pretty simply that - Luke Walton is a bad coach. Whenever I truly get frustrated on “man, why are they insisting on this player tonight” or “why the hell is so-and-so out at this point?” I remember that he’s just a few steps north of Jason Kidd and I resign myself to caring about other parts of this game. Is it as simple as “Need rebounds? Thompson. Need tall? Len.”... no, but he’s been consistently bad at this so it does make me wonder.

Brenden: We did see Alex Len heavily favored over Tristan Thompson in the Utah matchup where the opposing bigs were Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. I think rolling out Alex Len against Portland is asking for Dame or CJ to hunt him down and Golden State is a horrible matchup for him, but I would like to see the backup center position tested out a bit more.

Thompson has his very obvious blunders, but his ability to alter shots at the rim has still been important to this Kings’ team. That sort of impact just happens more quietly so I think it goes underappreciated. Len does a great job at that as well but requires more complicated scheming since he is significantly more slow-footed than Thompson. So, I’d like to see the backup big position tested a bit more, but I’m not too flustered currently.

From Marty:

Are you still hoping Fox magically transforms, or have you accepted this is just who he is?

Tim: I don't think "this is who Fox is", if we're referring to the start of the 2021 season. He's been flat-out bad on the offensive side of the floor through these three games, and that hasn't been the norm for De'Aaron over the last couple of seasons. Fox also isn't a finished product. In each of his first four years of the league, he's improved his scoring, play-making, and aggression, so it would be erroneous to state that he isn't going to get better.

On the other hand, I do sort of agree with the sentiment that while De'Aaron Fox isn't a finished product, he also hasn't added much to his game in his four years in the league. It seems that Fox has deemed it more important to try and become elite at his areas of expertise (rim attacking, foul-drawing, and play-making), rather than shore up areas of weakness like outside shooting, free throw shooting, and defense. That sort of a plan isn't necessarily right or wrong, but it likely will create a more limited elite-level player, rather than a very, very good jack-of-all-trades.

Will: Yeah, I think generally Fox is who he is and now it is all tinkering around the margins, adding wrinkles to his game, and trying to bump his efficiency up year to year. Is he ever going to be the defensive stopper we think he could be? No.  Could there be a J-Kidd level three-point shooting jump later in his career? I can’t rule it out, I’m just not expecting Fox to be a lights out shooter from anywhere but at the rim for the length of his career. I don’t expect Fox to continue shooting 16% from deep either, it’s just that he’s probably going to start most seasons a bit slow, won’t pick up for a month, and then whatever games Sacramento can win once he’s comfortable, will be a large portion of their wins till he gets into his streaky stage or injured. Some years will be different than others, so some win totals will be higher than others.

Brenden: I’m not worried about the first three games if that’s what you’re saying. Going deeper than that though, I think there is a good chance the player we saw all of last year is pretty close to the prime version of De’Aaron Fox. I’m not comfortable saying there is no more significant growth ahead for a player that is not even 24-years-old yet, but 25/7/3 is still a borderline All-Star.

I would not be shocked if we don’t see another significant jump from Fox in his career, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if we did. The clear needed areas of improvement are defensive engagement/effort and shooting from the three and free-throw line.

From DutchKingsFaninUK:

Which one concerns you more, our offense or our defense? And why?

Tim: As odd as this may sound, it's the offense for me. The Kings don't have a good defensive roster, no matter how much they wish us to believe otherwise, so it's really going to be up to the offense to pull this mediocre team forward, and thus far, that hasn't looked promising. De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton both need the ball in their hands to be effective, and neither one has looked comfortable with the other in the starting lineup. Buddy Hield has been okay, but he is who he is at this point in his career. Harrison Barnes is going to come back down to earth. I don't expect Davion to be a regular contributor on that end of the floor. Holmes is great in his role, but he can't carry the team. And the list goes on and on. I just don't see this team operating at a high level on offense or defense this season.

Will: If I’m going to worry about anything this early in the season, it’s definitely the offense. Coming into this season, what did every coach, player, and pundit have to say about the Kings? “Oh we know the Kings can score, it’s the defense they need to fix.” The Kings have looked lost, disheveled, scattered for like twelve of their sixteen quarters in my eyes - relying solely on “run and give it to the guy who’s hot”. Find the hot hand and force it till he’s tired or the game is done. Fox is adjusting to the refs swallowing their whistles, Hali is adjusting to being a full-time starter, Barnes is adjusting to suddenly being the #1 option on a team where he should be third or fourth. There’s a lot of “reasons” why this team should be rocking and rolling and they just aren’t. That being said I just took a look and they’re still within last year's range of points per game, offensive efficiency, and pace so, Jesus, maybe this team is just an ugly mess and that’s an efficient offense. Can I ask questions? Why the hell does…. Nevermind! Tim - next!

Brenden: I really want to cheat and say roster construction, but if you’re making me pick I will say the offense. It’s way too early to actually say I’m worried, but I think it’s more so that they have a lot to figure out when it comes to optimizing the main guys on this roster each night. Harrison Barnes has shown he is going to get more shots up this year, but those come in the rhythm of the offense.

The primary aspect I will be focusing on is seeing how De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton find their moments and comfortable roles alongside one another on the offensive end. It almost feels as if both of them are trying to make sure everyone else is comfortable and just fit in when I think the roster needs to fit around them. It’s three games into the season though, I am not stressing.

From Kosta:

What do you think is the best thing to do with Marvin Bagley right now? Should he get any playing time at all? Or sit him until a decent trade comes along? Let him go after the season? What would you accept in a trade for him?

Tim: The Kings want to win. Marvin Bagley doesn't contribute to winning basketball. That seems like a pretty simple equation to me.

Outside of injuries or foul trouble, I wouldn't try to showcase Bagley, as the Kings have been doing that for a season-and-a-half to no avail, and the worst thing that could happen to Marvin's already very, very negative trade value is for him to suffer another injury. All I can hope for is that some team sees some iota of potential at the trade deadline and sends a comparable expiring salary and a second round pick or two in compensation for his services. If that doesn't happen, I wouldn't even bother with the qualifying offer. Let the young man enjoy his two-year minimum deal with a non-contender and see if he can revive his career.

Will: Yeah just use him as a salary filler at this point. No use hurting him by playing, no use investing the time if he's just going elsewhere. I’d drop Metu in before him and anyone the Kings have a hope of continuing with the franchise beyond this season and it would be an easy decision. Was it nice to see him get some claps from the fans at the home opener? Sure. Does he need to be getting anything else from a franchise that he is determined to leave? Nope.

Brenden: Tim did good math above, and I double-checked the validity of his equation. Bagley could still see the floor if either Harrison Barnes or Maurice Harkless are sidelined at any point this season like we saw against Utah (unless you wanna play Robert Woodard?). Outside of “break in case of emergency” injury minutes, then the most valuable aspect of Bagley right now is his $11.3-million expiring salary that can be combined with either Buddy or Barnes to match max salary… Ben Simmons, anyone?

From Peja:

After seeing Davion after three games, what do you believe is a good player comparison is for his ceiling and floor?

Tim: Davion's likely outcome (not necessarily his floor) is a smaller, but more aggressive Marcus Smart, at least on the defensive end of the court. When we're talking ceilings, let's get crazy and say, Gary Payton!

Will: I need more time to believe anything I say here but I think he’s certainly looked good enough that I could see his floor being Cory Joseph. Not Kings Cory Joseph, but the very valuable bench and fill-in starter. That’s his floor. Less than five games into his career. His absolute ceiling? 6’1 Kawhi Leonard - a guy that teams game plan around by just leaving the player he’s guarding in the corner and playing 4 on 4 on the offensive end and then is a very good scorer on offense. It will take time for either of those outcomes or the in-betweens to flesh themselves out but there’s your hot-take for the day.

Brenden: These are so difficult to do. For now, let’s say something like Eric Bledsoe with a consistent three-point jumper. I will admit I am growing more and more optimistic about the ceiling of Davion Mitchell as time goes on. I was not ready for this level of defensive impact from game one of his rookie campaign and certainly didn't expect to see him score 20+ just three games in. Other ceiling examples that come to mind are Mike Conley and Jrue Holiday.

From citykidd:

Have the Kings completely given up on Bagley, and at this point, is he considered to be a bust around the NBA?

Tim: Yes and yes. He's a bust, just like every other non-Fox Vlade Divac selection.

Will: He’s a massive bust.

Brenden: Can I retweet Tim’s answer? I will say, Bagley becoming a valuable NBA player is still very possible, and I don’t think teams view him as a lost cause but more of a project with promising athletic tools. Still, his league-wide value has got to be close to nothing at this point in time.

From Kosta:

What is your Halloween costume going to be?

Tim: My family will be a smorgasbord of random characters. The eight-month boy will be a dog, my two-year-old daughter wants to be Bumblebee (not A bumblebee, the transformer Bumblebee), my five-year-old son is going as either Pikachu or Spider-man, my wife is going as Mike Wazowski, and I will be Woody.

Will: I’m still trying to work off these pandemic pounds and they aren’t coming off between now and Sunday so I’m doing the comfortable thing and dressing as hmmm… Thicc Thor is probably the nicest way to characterize him? Bathrobe, sweatshirt underneath, sweatpants, crocs with socks, sunglasses on, my long hair down and a god-killing axe by my side. It’s warm, super comfy, spacious enough for any snacks I wanna have. Perfect costume.

Brenden: Uhhh…  I forgot that’s happening soon huh? I’m gonna look for either the best giraffe costume I can find… or maybe a hairless cat.

From Kangz_Landing:

Favorite movies to watch during Halloween? Or favorite horror movies in general?

Tim: I'm not a big movie guy in general (short attention span), but my son loves, loves, loves Nightmare Before Christmas, so we always end up watching that a bunch. I remember enjoying The Cabin in the Woods back in the day, but I have no idea if it holds up. Also, The Blob!

Will: Tim and Brenden might have been the two worst people to ask this question to. We celebrated Halloween with friends last weekend and afterward, I showed my partner John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, which is absolutely my favorite this time of year. We’ve seen “The Shining” a few times and she’s not one for vomit so “The Exorcist” might be out of the question. We’ll have kids actually trick-or-treating so I might go to a classic on actual Halloween night and roll with “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” which is much easier on and kids that might peek around the corner while snatching candy!

Brenden: You guys are really making me realize how boring I am with these last two questions. My two main viewings on Halloween are going to be the Kings in Dallas and then I’ll eat some candy corn while hoping the Rockets somehow beat the Lakers later that night.

I do enjoy horror movies here and there, and I’ll just list a few I’ve enjoyed: The Conjuring, Bird Box (if that counts?), *googles scary movies, because I can’t remember any others*, Insidious, Hush, and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. Sorry, I don’t watch many movies and have never been one to rank them.

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Greg
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October 28, 2021 10:36 am

Favorite Movies to rewatch around Halloween: The Shining, Scream, Cabin in the Woods, Shaun of the Dead, Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, Sleepy Hollow

I also love to watch movies I haven’t seen before. I’d highly recommend Freaky, it’s on HBO. Very funny with some horror tropes mixed in.

I also just watched the Evil Dead movies for the first time. Really loved the original, but found I liked each one less as they went on. I guess I preferred the first because it was less intentionally campy and they embraced the camp as they went along.

Kosta
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October 28, 2021 11:59 am
Reply to  Greg

I also love to watch movies I haven’t seen before.

Hausu

Kwaidan

These are both Criterion Collection films, if anyone cares about that.

Hausu is more if you’re in the mood for weird funny + creepy.

Kwaidan is absolutely beautiful and haunting.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
Greg
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October 28, 2021 12:01 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Sweet!

Kosta
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October 28, 2021 12:05 pm
Reply to  Greg

I have weird tastes. You’ve been warned!

Hausu is probably best enjoyed in a theater with people who will laugh increduously alongside you as you all go “WTF?”

Kwaidan is something you can watch alone late at night, kinda like reading a good book of ghost stories.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 10:37 am

It seems that Fox has deemed it more important to try and become elite at his areas of expertise (rim attacking, foul-drawing, and play-making), rather than shore up areas of weakness like outside shooting, free throw shooting, and defense. That sort of a plan isn’t necessarily right or wrong, but it likely will create a more limited elite-level player, rather than a very, very good jack-of-all-trades.

Fox’s plan, what he has decided to do, is to not improve his shooting, or his defense.

I’ll take ludicrous overreaches for $200,000, Alex.

Amonk81
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October 28, 2021 12:18 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

This has been my concern with Fox before the season. His focus was on getting big rather then his shooting.

Now he’s slower and probably more prone to injury and shooting like crap. Feels like when Bibby got huge and then realized that wasn’t good for his game.

it’s not a good sign that Fox chose to not really address his weaknesses and not a great look
for the so called developmental coaching on the Kings.

andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 12:34 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

it’s not a good sign that Fox chose to not really address his weaknesses

Again, what? Made a conscious decision to not work on those aspects of his game?

SexyNapear
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October 28, 2021 12:58 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

The weird thing about Fox is he doesn’t really look more muscular. He looks more thick. Not sure if that was the plan.

1951
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October 28, 2021 10:37 am

Thanks for answering the question. I would like to point out the following from a huge sample size of one game played last night:

(1) Len played. TT didn’t;
(2) The Kings won; and
(3) Len is leading the league in 3pt%.

Boom. I win!

Kosta
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October 28, 2021 11:55 am
Reply to  1951

I don’t think Richaun has missed a three pointer this season either!

Put them both in the 3-point contest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
1951
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October 28, 2021 12:00 pm
Reply to  Kosta

We have the greatest stretch front court in the history of the NBA!

C Len 100%
C Holmes 100%
PF Barnes 52%
SF Hield 44%

Kosta
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October 28, 2021 12:01 pm
Reply to  1951

Get up to speed with the others, Hield!

King4life
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October 28, 2021 10:42 am

If last years version of Fox is the best he can be, that’s a pretty good outcome. The issue is more around team construction. That version of Fox would be great if he was a #2 or #3 option. Instead, the team is relying on him to be the primary option. This year’s version of Fox has been horrible. He jumper looks broken and he looks noticeable slower than previous years. The new foul rules means he’s not getting as many of those run into people calls as before so of course his efficiency is down.

The team continues to pay for the sins of past decisions while refusing to accept that a roster shakeup will likely require us to move one of our core pieces in order to acquire a difference maker.

MichaelMack
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October 28, 2021 10:50 am

Brenden! CANDY CORN???

I have been a huge fan of your contributions but now I am going to have to read and listen to all of your work through the veil of your candy of choice being candy corn.

Wow.

Brenden
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October 28, 2021 11:35 am
Reply to  MichaelMack

I am aware it tastes like plastic, but it’s like a good plastic in a way. I have definitely used that same description about Swedish Fish too… Also, I just knew that would really grind someone’s gears

Bbmuteman
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October 28, 2021 11:37 am
Reply to  Brenden

Great choice. Candy corn is excellent.

AdelmanWithThePlan
October 28, 2021 11:39 am
Reply to  Brenden

Get it from Jelly Belly. They seriously make the best candy corn. I hated the stuff until I tried theirs.

MichaelMack
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October 28, 2021 12:02 pm
Reply to  Brenden

If you are gonna go waxy or plastic, what about Hot Tamales? or the elite Mike and Ikes?

Flavor never hurt anyone.

andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 11:48 am
Reply to  MichaelMack

First of all

Screenshot 2021-10-28 114513.jpg
andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 11:48 am
Reply to  andy_sims

And lastly

Screenshot 2021-10-28 114623.jpg
Kosta
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October 28, 2021 12:01 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Team Black Licorice, give me a hell yeah!

andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 12:35 pm
Reply to  Kosta

I love it, and the single-best thing about it, is when I insincerely offer to share, no one ever takes me up on it.

Bbmuteman
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October 28, 2021 1:24 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Extra salty Dutch black licorice for me.

RikSmits
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October 28, 2021 10:16 pm
Reply to  Bbmuteman

Is there any other?

MichaelMack
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October 28, 2021 2:55 pm
Reply to  Kosta

I knew you would come through Kosta! Your taste in gifs and memes obviously extends to your taste in treats as well. #teamflavor

HoustonJP
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October 29, 2021 6:33 am
Reply to  Kosta

I will take a pound, please.

HoustonJP
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October 29, 2021 6:35 am
Reply to  Kosta

2nd place is Good & Plenty…two boxes, please.

Carl
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October 29, 2021 2:54 pm
Reply to  Kosta

comment image

SMF-PDXConnection
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October 28, 2021 10:53 am

At least no one said Bit o Honey was their favorite candy.

Bbmuteman
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October 28, 2021 11:21 am

What’s wrong with bit o honey? Next, you’ll tell me necowafers are bad too.

andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 3:15 pm
Reply to  Bbmuteman

Necco wafers are magical. Maybe not the chocolate ones, though.

Ccc
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Ccc
October 28, 2021 10:53 am

Re: Fox, I don’t see how one can be “elite” in this league without being a good shooter. It doesn’t happen much anymore. Especially with the guards, but the bigs too.

giannis obviously is an exception, and I’m sure a few others, but I don’t see how a point guard can be elite without being either a great shooter or a great passer.

I think at this point we can count on Fox to be a very good player, but to win the kings need to do whatever ythey can to get an elite player. That’s the only way to win.

Marty
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October 28, 2021 11:09 am
Reply to  Ccc

I agree. I tire of iso players pretty quickly. You watch enough championship level NBA basketball, and those iso dominant scorers just make me think there is no future there outside of a handful of fun regular season wins.

RandyBreuersNeckHair
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October 28, 2021 11:30 am
Reply to  Marty

What is this “championship level NBA basketball” you speak of?

In all seriousness, Marty. You’re a Philly guy. Am I crazy for thinking we should do Fox for Simmons straight up if it’s available? Neither guy can shoot, so give me the one who’s elite at just about everything else.
And if two guys can’t shoot a lick, give me the one who won’t shoot over the one who keeps missing.

Marty
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October 28, 2021 1:07 pm

I like Simmons a lot and I’m not a fan of fox.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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October 28, 2021 11:30 am
Reply to  Ccc

Agreed. I kind of have him pegged around that Jrue Holiday/Mike Conley type level, which means good at many things,but not elite at any one thing to make you the best player on good team. Deron Williams also comes to mind, especially when it comes to outside shooting. Again, they are all very good guards, but not necessarily ones you build a winning team around.

andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 11:49 am
Reply to  Ccc

Re: Fox, I don’t see how one can be “elite” in this league without being a good shooter. It doesn’t happen much anymore. Especially with the guards, but the bigs too.

Loving the irony that if you replace Fox’s name with Simmons, this suddenly becomes controversial.

Klam
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October 28, 2021 11:01 am

My favorite thing to watch during Halloween is Charlie Brown.
comment image

Kosta
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October 28, 2021 12:04 pm
Reply to  Klam

Bon Voyage Charlie Brown, And Don’t Come Back gets kinda spooky and mystery/thriller’ing near the end, so I’d watch that around this season as well!
comment image

Klam
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October 28, 2021 12:45 pm
Reply to  Kosta

I used to rent the “Snoopy Come Home” VHS at the library all the time when I was a kid…now I want to watch it again..

Adamsite
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October 28, 2021 11:12 am

In terms of rotations, is anyone else as concerned as me on the Kings current reliance on Harrison Barnes? He is putting up career high numbers in almost every category, including minutes, rebounds, points and a ridiculous 51% from three. He’s not only putting up all-star numbers, but MVP vote worthy numbers. This is great and all, but certainly can’t be relied upon as the season continues. Couple that with the fact that he is the best SF and PF on the team, without any real good backup at either position, and the Kings are a rolled ankle to Barnes away from spiraling into the depths that we haven’t seen in a while. This team is 0-4 by a margin without Barnes and I feel the same can’t really be said by any other player on the team. I really wish the Kings had another legit wing/stretch 4 that was worthy of NBA minutes because the way the Kings are riding Barnes, I fear for his durability.

andy_sims
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October 28, 2021 11:51 am
Reply to  Adamsite

This sentiment is not a reposting from last season.

Adamsite
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October 28, 2021 12:00 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Last year Bagley was the de facto starting 4 who started 42 out of the 43 games he played in and averaged 26MPG. He also had Nemanja backing him up who got 17 MPG. Barnes was the staring SF with GR3 behind him.

This year Bagley is a DNP/CD with Barnes and Harkless at the 3/4… and that is about it. The depth this year is significantly weaker and more reliant on Barnes. That is what concerns me going forward.

AnybodyButBagley
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October 28, 2021 12:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I think Barnes has always been the best all around basketball player on this team.

He is smart. He does not need to develop. He is durable. He can play…..

They will definitely fall apart if Barnes does not play.

Marty
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October 28, 2021 1:19 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

If they’re a 35 win team WITH him, I’m not too concerned about the drop off withOUT him.

is anyone else as concerned as me on the Kings current reliance on Harrison Barnes? 

RobHessing
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October 28, 2021 2:10 pm

My Halloween movie go-to’s all lean to the funny/silly:

  • Beetlejuice – “Nice fuckin’ model!” Michael Keaton: perfection.
  • Little Shop of Horrors – Steve Martin’s dentist / Bill Murray’s patient alone makes it worth the watch.
  • Young Frankenstein – #1 on my list if I were ranking them.
  • Arsenic and Old Lace – An oldy, but a classic with Cary Grant, Peter Lorre and Raymond Massey.
Kosta
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October 28, 2021 2:26 pm
Reply to  RobHessing
  • 2018 Draft – funny/silly/scary as hell.
MichaelMack
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October 28, 2021 2:59 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Klam can you hit me up with a Michael Scott “Why are you the way that you are” gif?

Last edited 1 year ago by MichaelMack
Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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October 28, 2021 4:07 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I’m sure Kings fans will find Young Frankenstein very relatable.
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SuperShaka
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October 28, 2021 9:51 pm

I think Tristan may be getting more play especially early in the season due to his familiarity with Mike Longabardi. Having played under him for three years in Cleveland, it’s likely that TT knows where to be and can make the appropriate calls in anchoring the defense even if Len might be the better rim protector.

sonny
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October 29, 2021 12:10 am

My favorite movie?
Watching the no-offensive-scheme 4th quarter Kangz game with Fluke Walton clueless on the sidelines.

Scariest?

Browsing through TKH and see Andy Sims never-ending contrarian rebuttals on almost every post, which after reading the first few words, I scroll down immediately.

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