Since He Covers the Kings, Does that Make Him Paparazzi?

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Published: February 1, 2008

The Hornets buzz into Sacramento tonight, and in preparation for the battle, I exchanged questions with the masterful blogger Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and AOL Fanhouse fame.  He asked me if I felt that David West had topped out, wondered how the Hornets are so effective on defense, and if  Peja's signing is good or bad for the team.  If you want to see my answers, take a visit to Sactown Royalty.   My questions for him and his answers follow.

Hornets247: I'll admit it.  Two years ago, I was giggling when I saw how much GM Geoff Petrie signed John Salmons for, and when Mikki Moore was picked up this offseason for 18mil, I thought Petrie had lost his mind.  Moore is doing about what I expected, but just where did this John Salmons(15 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg with 51% shooting) come from?  Did he give any indication last year he might do this?  Is he the biggest surprise this year in Sacramento?
 
Sactown Royalty: You know, the girth of Salmons' contract was never really considered bad in Sacramento; only its length gave us qualms. He makes less than every power forward on the roster. But yeah, he's been a complete surprise. His shooting prowess has come completely out of left field; the guy couldn't hit open shots when Allen Iverson was drawing defenders, but now he can nail open jumpers with Kevin Martin as the #1? I think the long stretches of playing time have helped, too; he was always on a short lease before, and he really takes a few minutes to get involved in the offense. His defense has been good, and that's no surprise. The offense certainly has been.

Hornets247: Your team has a horde of wing players: Martin, Artest, Salmons, Bibby(I see him as a SG now), Garcia, Douby . . . even Dahntay Jones.  What 3-man rotation would you prefer to hold on to and fill those 2 spots?  And do you think Petrie would trade the Hornets Garcia for a couple synthetic basketballs?

Sactown Royalty: I think Martin, Salmons and Garcia are the three swings of the present and near future. Douby's not gotten much time on the floor, but he's young and I think the team likes him enough to keep him around. Garcia might be the most likely to be traded (though the franchise and coaches love him) because he's on that rookie deal for another year and because Petrie's shown a deft ability to draft great swingmen outside the top 10 (Peja, Hedo, Gerald Wallace, Martin, Garcia).

Hornets247: Kevin Martin.  24.4 points per game on 46% shooting, 41% shooting from three.  More free throws drawn in a half than most players get in a game.  Only 15 shots a game.  What?

Sactown Royalty: That's a bit deceiving, because those FTs should count as 'shots' too. But you're right — he deserves more looks. Some of this has to do with Artest and Bibby soaking up FGAs at a higher rate than Salmons and Beno Udrih would. Some of this has to do with the fact Martin almost always resists taking a bad shot (which would be a decent shot for most other two-guards). He's got those great shooting percentages because a) he's a great shooter, and b) he has a great self-awareness when it comes to his offense. He's recently gone a bit further out on the ledge towards some Kobe or LeBron shots — those 'no no no.. YES!' jumpers. But he still looks completely sane 95% of the time, which limits his output a bit.

Hornets247: Your team is 6-4 in its past 10 and starting to play better.  Is it well served in trying to make the playoffs this year?  Do you think it can in this amazingly deep West?

Sactown Royalty: Of course the *team* should be pressing for playoff contention. But it's not worth holding off on any Artest or Bibby trades; the *franchise* should be thinking long-term with the core of Martin, Spencer Hawes and the 2008 first-rounder, with Salmons, Garcia and Udrih as complementary pieces. I think the only player which would put the Kings in a sticky situation as far as 'giving up the season' would be Brad Miller. His value might be approaching its peak (considering the last two seasons); if you trade him, though, you stand little chance of getting to 35 wins. But it'd certainly be in the best interest of the *franchise* to deal him. Artest? Bibby? The on-court performance might suffer a bit, but 2-3 wins is the difference. Miller? That's a 5-6 win difference (because of the skewed depth between the wings and the frontcourt). Either way, I don't think the playoffs are in the cards.


Thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer our questions.   I'll forego my usual Game preview, and just include a few notes:

Kings:

  • Now that they are at almost full strength, Sacramento(20-24) is starting to win more games, going 6-4 over their last ten.
  • Brad Miller is playing almost as well as he ever has, and Martin, Bibby, Garcia, and in some respects, Artest, provide potent perimeter scoring.
  • Power Forward is their biggest weakness, with Artest being a little undersized to play it and all other PFs on the team terrible.
  • Efficiencies: Offensive 103.2(16th), Defensive 105.9(26th)

Hornets

  • The Hornets(32-13) roll out their first legitimate(Sorry, Magloire was illegitimate) pair of same-season All-Stars since LJ and Mourning in 94-95.
  • They also roll out the All-Star coach.  This is Byron's second time at the game, having gone once in New Jersey.
  • As an unfortunate side effect of the happly celebration for the above all-stars, I've been unable to find updates on Morris Peterson, Melvin Ely and Bobby Jackson.  I'd assume the first two are playing, but I can't be certain.
  • Efficiencies: Offensive 107.4(6th), Defensive 100.2(4th)

Hopefully the Hornets won't let the All-Star selection celebration impact their play tonight, because these Kings are dangerous and getting moreso everyday.  Still – I've worried every time there's been a bad loss by the Hornets, and every time the guys have come out and hammered the next team they faced.  I think they'll stay focused and do the same tonight.

Hornets win 104-94.

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