Monday, April 4

Kings Preview, Part II

The Seattle Sonics might face the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m all for the big hype. Boxing, football, playoffs, whatever the game, the more hype preceeding it means the more excitement in watching it. That said, here’s a detailed look at the Kings’ roster, who I expect the Sonics to face in the first round, starting with the guards.

Mike Bibby

I spoke a bit about Bibby on Thursday, but as he’s the absolute catalyst for this team, he bears a bit more scrutiny. According to 82games, the Kings lose 6 points per 48 minutes when he’s off the court, and gain 3.5 points when he’s on. Bibby can take it to the hoop or launch from the outside with equal ease, and he obviously stands out from Frodo in this aspect. However, the rest of his game is really not that much better than Ridnour’s. Bibby has been stellar in the playoffs, averaging 18 points and providing more than his share of clutch baskets. His 3-point and FT percentages are higher in the playoffs than the regular season, meaning anyone waiting for him to choke is going to have to be extremely patient. He’s suffered from a sore right ankle this year, but it’s nothing that should inhibit him come playoff time. His defense is less than stellar, especially on the ball, something Frodo may be able to take advantage of.

Against the Sonics: 17 ppg, 5 apg, 4 rpg, 13% 3-points
Entire year: 20 – 7 – 4, 37%

Cuttino Mobley
Acquired in exchange for Doug Christie earlier this season, Mobley’s posted impressive stats with the Kings since the trade. That said, the Kings actually play better with him on the bench, at least on the defensive end. With Mobley sitting, the Kings allow 3 fewer points per 48 minutes as opposed to when he’s playing, and the team’s offense doesn’t change regardless of if he’s wearing a warmup jersey. Mobley likes to put the ball up early in the shot clock, so the Sonics would be wise to make sure to find him in transition defense. In his limited playoff experience, Mobley put up some good numbers for the Rockets (14-5-3) in their first-round loss to the Lakers last year. The Kings occasionally use Mobley at SF, with Jackson/Bibby in the backcourt, but he will get the majority of his minutes at the 2. He went crazy against the Sonics from long-range in their game in February, hitting on 6 of 11 from 3-point range. Of course, Ray Allen lit Cuttino up in turn, scoring 34 on his end.

Against the Sonics: 18 ppg, 3 apg, 3 rpg, 41% 3-points, 40% overall FG
Entire year: 17 – 4 – 3, 45% 3-point

Bobby Jackson
Jackson has been sidelined since January with a bum left wrist, and many in Sac are starting to wonder if the injury is as bad as he says it is. Jackson incurred the ire of King fans last post-season with his less-than-frenetic play. He chalks it up to injuries, and says he won’t return to the lineup until he’s at 100%. All that said, you might wonder why so many make such a big deal about the 6th man on a team that’s fading from the playoff picture. Here’s why. When Jackson got hurt the Kings were 17-7. Today, they’re 45-30, meaning in the interim they’ve gone 28-23. Put another way, if the Kings had maintained the pace they set with Jackson in the lineup, they’d be 53-22 right now, or three games better than the Sonics. A lightning-quick player with a never-ending stream of energy, Jackson is very capable of taking the ball to the hole, and the thought of him matched up against Frodo’s matador defense has any Sonic fan worried sick. Jackson has been a key player in the Kings’ playoff success of the past 3 years, and if he returns for the post-season, it will be a definite blow to the Sonics’ chances.

Against Seattle: 10 ppg in 21 mpg
Season: 12 – 3 – 2, 85% FT

The Rest
Eddie House

House put up some decent numbers earlier this year in Charlotte, before moving on to the Kings by way of Milwaukee. Now on his 5th team in 4 years, House was a standout performer at Arizona State, averaging 23 ppg his senior year. At 6’1”, he’s a bit small for a 2-guard, and Ray Allen should have no trouble finding his range with House in his face. When paired with Jackson (6’1”) or Bibby (6’2”), the Kings will have difficulty containing Allen. Don’t expect House to score anything in the paint beyond fast-break opportunites; 90% of his shots come from the outside.

Maurice Evans
After 3 years out of the league, Evans has found a role on the Kings in the absence of Jackson. At 6’5”, Evans is an exceptional rebounder for a guard, has no trouble scoring anywhere on the floor, and could see time at both guard spots and the 3. If Rashard is healthy, don’t expect to Evans matched up with him, though, unless Rick Adelman has designs on playing golf a little earlier than usual this offseason.

Kevin Martin
The “other” K-Mart, he’ll likely be very comfortable on the bench in the playoffs. Other than the month of January, Martin has been seeing most of his action from the sidelines. When he did play, Martin (6’7”) spent his time at the 2 and 3 slots, and the rookie from Western Carolina showed he’s not much of a foul shooter or a 3-point bomber.

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