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Let’s Be French – and Guillotine the Kings

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Published: February 23, 2009

Matchup: Kings(12-45) @ Hornets(32-22)

Off Efficiency: Kings 101.3(25th), Hornets 106.6(8th)
Def Efficiency: Kings 111.8(30th), Hornets 103.6(10th)

If there ever was a team I needed to do a Game Preview for, it’s the Sacramento Kings.  The Kings were active at the trade deadline, and to be honest, until I did this preview, I wasn’t entirely sure what they had on the team anymore.

Gone is their most consistent and least injured wing, John Salmons.  Also gone is Brad Miller, who always liked to drill the Hornets with his mid-range jumpshots.  Taking their places are Francisco Garcia and 2nd year center Spencer Hawes.  Both players are a little bit of a step down, though the Kings hope that in Hawes case, that step down will smooth out over this year and next and then be a step up.

The Kings also picked up a new sixth man, Andres Nocioni, who will probably shift into the starting lineup as a small forward at some point since Francisco Garcia isn’t really a small forward.  Formerly of the Bulls, Andres’s calling card is energy, deep shooting, and a complete lack of discipline defensively.

All said, the Kings are a bad offensive team, and the worst defensive team.  I don’t think any of their trades are going to change that this season.

This game should be easy, and if the Hornets do what they are capable of, will launch their winning streak.  Let’s see what happens.

Injuries:

Kings: Drew Gooden is Day to Day
Hornets: Tyson is Questionable – I doubt he plays.  Mo Pete is day to day.

Positional Analysis

PG: Beno Udrih v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Beno was a slightly below average last year in his contract year.  Now that he’s got a nice long contract, he’s way below average.  Chris Paul is going to destroy him in about every way possible.

SG: Kevin Martin v The Pheonix on Fire
Advantage: Kings
The way Rasual Butler has been playing recently, I’m not even certain this is a big advantage anymore.  Martin is a superlative offensive player, but his defense has always been weak.  He’ll score on Butler, but Butler will make him work.  On the other side, Butler has become Chris Paul’s new favorite target on the wing as Peja continues to struggle with his shot.  The Phoenix has been on fire, averaging 17.5 points, 5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1 steal over the last 5 games.    He’s shot 52% from both the field and three point line, and in some games, has been the deciding factor.  Rasual is the feel-good story of the Hornets this year.  I need to write something about him.

SF: Francisco Garcia v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hornets
Garcia ain’t much, otherwise I’d be giving this to the Kings, because Peja has been really struggling the past half-dozen games – and not just with his shot – normally a fine, intelligent defender, he’s been unable to stop penetration at all, and always seems a step behind.  As a result, Byron has started cutting his minutes recently.  I’m not sure that’ll help, but I’m not sure that’ll hurt either.  As for Francisco, he’s more of a slasher than a shooter, but he doesn’t draw a lot of free throws either. 

PF: Jason Thompson v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Jason Thompson is a nice rookie, and he’ll probably develop into a decent starting power forward.  He’s got some touch around the basket, can draw fouls, and is particularly good at crashing the offensive boards.  Defensively, however, he’s still a rookie, and David West should be able to punish him even with his ongoing back problems.

C: Spencer Hawes v Sean Marks
Advantage: Kings
I don’t think Tyson will play, and since Hilton is struggling with his own back problems, I’m giving Marks the start here.  Hawes is a slightly faster and more athletic Brad Miller – and he has about the same shooting range.  He’s not quite as consistent as Miller, however, and for a 7’0 guy who can jump and block shots, he’s not particularly good at rebounding.  He’ll have a few nice swats, will probably drill a three at some point, and I expect him to outplay Sean Marks.  Marks will get a few nice dunks, fight for a few rebounds, and take two long jumpers that make me cringe.

Bench
Advantage: Even
Bobby Jackson, Andres Nocioni, Donte Greene, and Will Solomon make up the second unit of the Kings right now.  All of these guys like to take threes, and none of them are particularly adept at it.  None of them are scary penetrators, and none of them except for the ancient Bobby Jackson have contributed to a defense one could term “average”.  Posey, Devin Brown and Daniels have actually played very well with one another recently, and though they aren’t really stopping anyone, they are scoring enough to keep the Hornets from falling behind when it’s mostly the second unit out there.  This should be about even – with the advantage swinging hard to the Hornets if Posey decides this is a game he’s going to focus on.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

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