Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kings just work now - progress to come later?

Early NBA preseason games often provide more questions than answers.

There were times during Sacramento’s game Sunday night in Oakland against Golden State when it seemed as if the Kings didn’t want to play.

Now, we always must be careful of what we think we see and be capable of maintaining an open mind to all the circumstances involved.

Confusion can appear to be disinterest.

Coach Paul Westphal during his post-game comments did not implicate his team’s effort or lack thereof. He pointed towards his team’s lack of experience on the floor and indicated at times it made his team appeared disorganized.

“It’s hard for us to find the rhythm with a lot of key players out that we need to have on the floor,” Westphal said. “But that’s part of training camp. So it looks disorganized like we’re trying to learn our offense, so our offense is not effective at all.

“We’re not functioning smoothly. We’re not getting the ball inside. And that’s a problem.
I’m sure we’ll get better. We’ll get on the same page as we start getting some guys back.”

Center Samuel Dalembert, who has the NBA’s third-longest active games played streak with 354, has yet to play during the preseason because of a left adductor strain. The Kings miss him dearly at the defensive end.

“I don’t go to the trainer for an update every day,” Westphal said after Sunday night’s game, “but I’m hopeful to see him this week. I really don’t want to rush him, but at the same time, you can see that we can use him.”

The Kings Sunday also played without forward Carl Landry (eye injury) and guard Beno Udrih (sprained right shoulder). Westphal said he thought both could return to action this week.

Sacramento begins the regular season Oct. 27 in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves. It has four preseason games remaining, with tonight’s return engagement against Golden State at Arco Arena the only one at home.

Tonight’s contest should provide a more realistic indication of what the Kings will be working with this season. However, these upcoming games are dwindling opportunities for players (Luther Head, Darnell Jackson, Joe Crawford and Marcus Landry) to show they belong on this team.

Neither Marcus Landry nor Omri Casspi nor Donte Greene nor Antoine Wright has distinguished himself enough to win the wide-open starting small-forward position. The entire training camp body of work will be considered, yet making due with the minutes received during the next two weeks likely will go a long way to claiming that position.

Then again, Westphal has numerous frontcourt options. He could opt to go with Dalembert at center, Jason Thompson at power forward and Carl Landry up front. Francisco Garcia also factors into the mix at small forward.

It may not be fair to call this a work in progress at this juncture.

We must wait to see how it evolves.

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