Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Sacramento Kings
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
|Charlotte||10-14||94.5 (29)||97.5 (4)||95.2 (24)|
|Sacramento||7-15||101.6 (16)||104.7 (27)||96.7 (17)|
Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (OUT)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Isaiah Thomas|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||Ben McLemore|
|SF||Jeffery Taylor||Rudy Gay|
|PF||Josh McRoberts||Jason Thompson|
|C||Al Jefferson||DeMarcus Cousins|
|6th Man||Ramon Sessions||Derrick Williams|
1- STATS. The Kings have improved offensively from a year ago and have a plethora of guys who can shoot/score the ball at a very high volume (Cousins,Thomas, Gay, Thorton). Is it fair to say this could be one of toughest tests for Charlotte’s stingy defense so far this season?
Greg Pietras: They’ve been better since Rudy Gay showed up, but this year they’ve had an average offense on the whole. The Kings rank 14th in offensive rating and 17th in points per game, and those numbers are mostly floated by a low turnover rate and a healthy diet of free throws. Gay’s been a positive influence in his two games with the team (see below), but it’s too early to say whether he’ll be able to do that consistently: The Suns and the Rockets aren’t exactly world-beaters defensively.
Doug Branson (PodCats Show): I don’t know if I would include Thornton on that list as he’s played his way down into the rotation basement, but the combo of Thomas, Cousins and Gay are a handful when they are in sync and sharing the load. They are even better when they play Derrick Williams with these three. It will be a tough test especially for Jefferson, McRoberts and Biyombo down in the interior.
James Ham (CowbellKingdom.com): The Kings are becoming an offensive juggernaut, but they might not be there yet. With so many new pieces, a good defensive team may be able to disrupt the Kings flow. If that happens, then Sacramento may regress into a selfish jump shooting team and all bets are off. This is the first time the Kings have really been out on the road this season, so there is no telling what team will show up.
2- FACT or FICTION. Rudy Gay makes Sacramento a better basketball team holistically.
Greg: I’d say yes, but that probably reflects more on the Kings’ former small forward rotation than anything else. Gay’s in the middle of his least-efficient scoring year ever, and while he can be a capable defender, he’s at best inconsistent. Even with those flaws, though, he’s an upgrade over marginal NBA players like John Salmons and Luc Mbah A Moute. It also gives Sacramento the freedom to find the best role for Derrick Williams, another recent acquisition, without putting too much pressure on him. Gay’s $19M contract will likely cramp the Kings a bit next year, but the product on the floor should be a bit better.
Doug: Holistically? Does Rudy Gay practice eastern medicine? Now I have this image of him delivering acupuncture to Boogie. WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN. The answer to your question is FACT. He gives them a legitimate third scoring option and tough defense at the three and four spots. SO FAR, he has been aggressive getting to the basket and hasn’t felt the need to hoist up loads of tough twos. Having Rudy around also allows them to bring the rejuvenated Derrick Williams off a bench that doesn’t offer much else offensively.
James: Fact. Gay has been incredible in his two games with the Kings. He opens the floor for DeMarcus Cousins to work in the post and for Isaiah Thomas to drive to the hoop. He instantly solidified a position that has been open on the Kings for years. More than the stats, we have seen real leadership from a star quality player. His influence has been tremendous, but it’s early.
3- PICK IT. Well, here’s another game that you circle on the schedule as winnable, but the Bobcats have been losing all those as of late. Who ya got?
Greg: It’s hard to get a read on the Bobcats right now; MKG’s injury means we’re seeing a lot more minutes from Ben Gordon, which can be good (offense!) and bad (defense!!!). That can mean outbursts like the 100+ dropped on Philadelphia and Golden State, but it also means they can’t necessarily lean on their bread and butter. The Kings are probably due for a post-trade comedown, so I’m leaning toward Charlotte tonight, but I’m not that confident.
Doug: If the Bobcats can force turnover prone Isaiah Thomas into mistakes and force Gay into jump shots they can take this offense out of rhythm. But then again we can always decide to play Ben Gordon for the entire second half. This one is a toss up in my mind. I’ll give a rested Bobcats team the edge, 89-85.
James: The Kings want to start their four games in five nights road trip off on the right foot. With Atlanta, Miami and Orlando lined up, this is one Sacramento needs to get or this trip could get ugly in a hurry. My prediction is that the Kings get it going early offensively and take this one in Charlotte.