Ball Don't Lie - NBA



Last year's record?
25-57, missed the playoffs.

Significant departures? Jon Brockman(notes), Andres Nocioni(notes), Spencer Hawes(notes).

Significant arrivals? DeMarcus Cousins(notes), Samuel Dalembert(notes), Pooh Jeter(notes), Hassan Whiteside(notes), Antoine Wright(notes).

Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 26-56

Before we get into why I might be right, but will probably be wrong, Dan Devine needs a round of applause.

We got hit with the season preview late in the offseason, which wouldn't be a problem if I hadn't already written (quite long) season previews for all 30 teams in the magazine, and Dan didn't have another full time job that he was also very good at. So while I offered guarded snippets in order to make the magazine whatever the opposite of redundant is, Dan worked crazy (crazy) nights and weekends in order to write 90 percent of the content, and for that, he is the man.

He is our man, Devine. Sweet.

Why I think that sounds about right The thing about the 26-56 record, I mean?

Because the Kings, improving though they still may be, have terrible holes defensively and can still go long stretches without a good look at the basket in spite of Tyreke Evans'(notes) presence.

This is a holding pattern season for the Kings, working Cousins into the mix and looking forward to a good chunk of salary cap space next summer (or next fall, or they could use those assets for a trade this winter). Either way, the rebuilding process continues apace.

Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?

Because this team is rife with talent, as Evans and Cousins could be an inside-out combo to reckon with, Beno Udrih(notes) could continue to improve, and there are all sorts of incumbent players (Carl Landry(notes), Francisco Garcia(notes), Jason Thompson(notes) if he can get minutes) that can sway the outcome of the game in a positive manner.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Kings surged into the mid-30s. I just don't see it from this young a roster, this early. Of course, I've been terribly, terribly wrong about them before.

Dan Devine's Corner Three

Step up or step off

Want to know why I'm a jerk? Because when I sat down to write this, seriously, the first thing in my mind was Carl Landry's rebound rate. His rebound rate.

See, the numbers say that in two of his three seasons as a pro, Landry has hauled in a lower percentage of available rebounds than the average NBA power forward. On top of that, his rebounding stats have declined precipitously every year, and he only grabbed 5.8 boards per 36 minutes after coming to Sacramento from the Houston Rockets last season, a ghastly mark for any four and something of an apocalypse when said four's playing 38 minutes a night.

So I thought about that. Then I thought about how a power forward in the Pacific Division now has to fight over missed shots with Pau Gasol(notes), David Lee(notes) and Blake Griffin(notes) 12 times a year, which is a pretty huge bummer that's only partially leavened by the fact that you also get to "fight" Hedo Turkoglu(notes) for rebounds four times a year. And then I thought about how maybe the numbers aren't telling the whole story -- after all, as notable nerds Tom Haberstroh and Noam Schiller have written, Landry's offensive role changed a lot when he got to Sacramento and he's improved his mid-range game since coming into the league, which has meant him stepping out (slightly) more frequently over the years, even before becoming a King (but way more so after), and if you're not playing near the rim as much, you won't get as many offensive rebounding opportunities, which would impact the overall numbers.

Luckily, as I was doing all this thinking about rebounding, it occurred to me that something pretty basic had escaped my steel-trap mind: Carl Landry can put the ball in the hole. That's why the Kings traded for him, that's what the Kings want him to do, and maybe it's worth focusing on that a little bit. (Forest for the trees over here, 'til the casket drops.)

The guy's averaged 18 points per 36 minutes over his career, he's posted well-above-average True Shooting and effective field goal percentages throughout his career, he hits 70 percent of his shots at the rim, he's become a much better shooter from 10 to 23 feet, and now he's a definite number two option behind Tyreke Evans with a mandate to score. With a steady diet of touches, Landry could be a monster on the offensive end, especially if coach Paul Westphal can gently reverse some of that continental drift toward the perimeter.

Plus, the import of glass cleaners Samuel Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins to eat up the center minutes that previously went to inferior rebounder Spencer Hawes, which should help mitigate Landry's declining impact on the backboard. Provided, of course, he has an increased impact on the scoreboard. So score, Carl, score. Make things simpler.

--

Five things about the Kings that furrow Ol' Man Howard's brow

1. Grow up, Eugene.

2. Grow up, Tyreke.

3. Grow up, Donte.

4. Grow up Beno.

5. Grow up, Hassan.

--

Stuff DeMarcus Cousins wonders, plus answers, probably

"Who was the best Goonie?" Probably Data, because of inventions.

"Could Parker Lewis lose?" Probably not.

"Who was the best Monster Squad?" Probably Horace, because of kicking Wolfman.

"What's up with this blue screen?" Probably caused by ntoskrnl.exe.

"Who was the best Star Trek?" Probably Data, because of emotions.

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