With the Golden State Warriors (17-21) traveling tonight to take on the Sacramento Kings (14-27) at Power Balance Pavillion, we decided to go 3-on-3 to preview the game with some members of the Warriors World staff as well as James Ham from Cowbell Kingdom, the Kings ESPN TrueHoop affiliate blog.
The Dubs are coming off back-to-back victories over the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers while the Kings won against the Mavs but lost their most recent game at home to the Atlanta Hawks. So what gives tonight (FYI, questions were answered prior to announcement of trade)?
1. Take a pick: Monta Ellis or Tyreke Evans.
James Ham, Cowbell Kingdom: This is a tough one. Ellis is a more complete scorer right now, but there is a reason Ellis’ name comes up during trade season every year. Evans still has a ton of potential. He’s younger and still finding his way in the league. I think Ellis has a more natural position and will be a better player for the next three seasons, but at the end of those three seasons, Evans will only be 25. I think I would choose Ellis today, but if you would have asked me before the season began, Evans would have been my answer. And if you ask me before next season, Evans might be my answer then as well.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Tyreke has a better handle on the ball but also tends to get tunnel vision at times and forgets about his teammates. Ellis on the other hand may occasionally settle for some tough jumpers, but he is usually quite decisive with the ball and finds ways to create angles to take advantage of the defense and score. In addition, Ellis has shown the ability to play point guard at times and distribute the ball when teammates are making shots.
So today I would pick Ellis, but Evans still has far too much potential to be discounted at this stage of his career. Perhaps in the near future, the answer will switch to him.
Jordan Ramirez: Remember when Tyreke Evans was the next big thing? Wowing fans and impressing NBA circles during his rookie year in which he won Rookie of the Year? Nope, I don’t either. Whereas Monta Ellis skills are well known — scoring — we still don’t know what exactly Evans does on an elite level. As a big point guard (6’6′, 220 pounds) there will always be a market for a player like Evans, but since his rookie year there hasn’t been much to be excited about with his game. He can drive well but his career .421 shooting percentage is troubling. Give me the player where I know what I’m getting on a game by game basis, not the one who still has yet to improve on his rookie success.
2. What is the one position that Sacramento would have to upgrade in order to possibly compete for a playoff spot?
James Ham: Regardless of who is playing the position now, I still think the small forward spot is the Kings achilles heel. Long term, I think Evans is better served to play the two guard. I can see a day where Thornton is used as the Kings primary scorer off the bench a la Bobby Jackson or Jamal Crawford and Evans goes back into the guard rotation. The Kings have another lottery pick in one of the better drafts in recent history and I see them using that pick to land the wing that they have been missing since the Peja era ended. Some folks might be surprised that the point guard position isn’t the biggest need for the Kings, but long-term, I think that Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas are going to be a very good tandem.
J.M. Poulard: The Sacramento Kings’ playbook looks far too much like it derives straight from a New York City playground as players take turns isolating their defenders and ignoring their teammates unless they get stuck in a bad spot. Consequently, a headstrong point guard who commands respect and that gets players in the right positions would help solve some of their offensive woes. Keep in mind, the Kings are of the best paint scoring teams in the league, thus just a bit of organization on offense could help them become a far better team and also protect their defense to some degree.
Jordan Ramirez: The power forward position. Jason Thompson can be a nice player at times, but if you’re asking him to be a consistent PF in the starting lineup for a potential playoff team that simply won’t cut it. While the Kings have shuffled Thompson and Cousins on occasion the problem still lies with their front court. Chuck Hayes is the Kings main sub for both Thompson and Cousins, which when you combine all three might be the most befuddling front court in NBA history. You put a David West-type talent next to Cousins and the Kings will reap the benefits.
3. The winner of this game…
James Ham: The Kings will win a barn burner. They are really tough at home, regardless of the team they are facing. The W’s have a few more wins right now, but the Kings have played six more road games than there friends from the Bay. If the two teams schedules were flopped, I think the Kings would have more than the 17 wins the Warriors have right now. I think the real question should be, where would the Warriors be if Keith Smart was still their head coach?
J.M. Poulard: Whenever these two teams meet, the contest usually ends up going down to the wire and gives us an exciting finish. I see no reason to expect any different tonight. The Kings will look get a plethora of looks in the paint for some relatively easy scores while the Warriors should get several open looks from 3-point range. If the Dubs light it up from deep they will have a very good chance to steal one on the road, but so far this season this matchup has been won by the home team and that will probably hold true again tonight.
Jordan Ramirez: The Warriors win this game in typical Golden State vs. Sacramento fashion. Expect a close game throughout, multiple runs where it looks like neither team wants to win and at least one Demarcus Cousins brain fart. Both teams — amidst numerous questions both on and off the court — have always played each other with a certain bounce. Just don’t expect that bounce to make for beautiful basketball.
Bonus: Who is more likely to be selected as an All-Star: Stephen Curry or DeMarcus Cousins?
James Ham: Cousins will be an All-Star in the next two seasons. I’m not sure that Curry can stay healthy enough to even make a run at a bid. The West has a ton of quality guards and Curry is going to really elevate his status to be considered elite. That includes leading the W’s to a lot more wins.
J.M. Poulard: It seems Curry is destined to be a player that will make us wonder what he could potentially produce should he ever remain healthy. Cousins on the other hand is a skilled big man that just seems destined for great things provided that he does not lose all of his marbles.
A big man that scores, passes and rebounds tends to get noticed and selected to All-Star teams, and that’s exactly where DeMarcus is headed.
Jordan Ramirez: Stephen Curry. Curry has shown the ability to shoot with anyone in the league, and because of Curry’s already high popularity with the NBA office and fans, don’t be surprised to see him make an All-Star game or two before his career is over. Whether he makes it with a blue and gold jersey on is another question.