With the 2013-14 NBA preseason in full swing, Warriors World reached out to James Ham (@James_Ham) of Cowbell Kingdom, the Sacramento Kings ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate blog, and asked him a few questions about the Golden State Warriors’ rival.
1. What are your thoughts so far on the Kings’ defense based on the early preseason?
So far, the defense looks very good, but the same could be said early last season as well. The two defensive standouts from the first preseason game against the Warriors were Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins, but for different reasons. Thompson appears to have a new understanding of defending the pick-n-roll, which is sustainable. Cousins was active and hustled all over the court, both on the ball and as a help defender. Thompson is building a base, while Cousins is showing that he has another gear. Both are improvements that you can directly attribute to new head coach Michael Malone, but I’ll take the learned skill.
2. How do the perimeter players look so far?
Isaiah Thomas looks like he is in mid-season form. He has bulked up and looks ready to defend his position against newcomer Greivis Vasquez. Rookie Ray McCallum is getting an extended look as the third point guard while the Kings bring Vasquez along slowly after offseason ankle surgery. The shooting guard position is going to be one to watch all season. Marcus Thornton has his hands full with seventh overall pick Ben McLemore. Eventually McLemore and his elite athleticism and shooting skills will win out, but it will probably take half the season. Former first round pick and college player of the year Jimmer Fredette is on the outside looking in so far. After receiving a DNP-CD in the first preseason game, the question of whether the Kings will pick up his fourth year option on his rookie deal seems all but answered.
3. DeMarcus Cousins’ discipline on both sides of the ball has been …
…erratic so far. Cousins shot 2-for-10 from the field in his preseason debut. Clearly the Kings intend to run the ball through him a lot on the offensive end, but that won’t last if his shot selection doesn’t improve. He has worked on a “Dream Shake” from the baseline during the offseason, but he needs to make his living scoring at the rim.
There were a lot of positives to point to on the defensive end, but like so many games throughout Cousins’ first three seasons in the league, he had to sit for long stretches with foul trouble. I liked the way Cousins flew to the ball and used his 7-foot-8 wingspan to interrupt the Warriors offense. I also liked watching him slide to the baseline to stop ball as a help defender. Cousins has great feet for a man his size. If he can take in Malone’s coaching and get his body and head on the same page, he can be an above average defender.