Yes! I get to be lazy today because Dan Barnes has written a post for me! An excellent analysis of the Kings. Have they lost their mojo? Oh, behave!
My short-answer assessment of the Kings performance this season is this: at the beginning of the year, I felt we were among 6-8 teams that could legitimately be called championship contenders but not among the 2 or 3 truly elite squads. After the first month of the season, I don't see any reason to change that assessment. How well you accept that depends on whether you're happy the Kings are better than 95% of the league, or frustrated that we're still worse than 5%.
I think that coming into the season, many fans were afraid that the team would lack chemistry and even be boring to watch. As should be obvious to anyone who's been watching, neither of these fears has been realized. I think there was some awkwardness early in the season due to a bitter offseason, whether it was emotional seething or physical apathy or both. We were so familiar with a Kings team that was friends off the court, and that sense of fun often manifested itself in how they would play. This Kings team may not be as chummy as in years past, but I'll sacrifice cuddliness for a championship any time. And the beautiful thing about the Kings is that they have great scorers who are also great passers, and players love playing with other players who set them up for scores. And if you've been watching the Kings lately, you know that almost every basket scored in recent weeks has been assisted (that is, set up by a pass). At the end of the day, I think the concerns about the Kings have been over-pundicized out of proportion...this is still a 55-60 win team that will win its division and secure one of the top 3 seeds in the playoffs (the team's current 12-5 record puts them right on that pace) What they do beyond that in the playoffs will depend on the usual mixture of talent, determination, and luck. In recent years, the Kings have been unlucky, losing major players to injury during or on the eve of the playoffs. I'd like to think we're due for good luck while some other teams might be in line for some bad. But that's a long ways off.
For the short term, here are some of my main concerns about the team.
1) They still haven't played one solid 48-minute game...even their blowout wins (such as last night in Boston) have been marred by stretches of inexplicably horrible play.
2) Rebounding....there seems to be more effort in recent games, but they still have the tendency to make average rebounders look like Moses Malone. This is where the lack of athleticism among our big men hurts badly.
3) Chris Webber on the 2nd night of back-to-backs....save for spotty shooting, Webber has had a great season, but he always seems to be laboring on the second of consecutive games.
4) The Bench....I actually feel our bench is as good as it's ever been or better. We could use one more skilled player deep in the rotation, but that's about it. Everyone was down on Ostertag from the very beginning, but I feel he may be the proverbial "missing piece" to the championship puzzle. Yes, he's geeky and lumpy and pasty-skinned, but he's also the type of player the Kings have always needed but never had--the dirty-work big man. If you've watched the last few games, you've gotten a hint as to how Ostertag can help the team--with rebounding, shot-blocking, screen-setting, and physical play. He can't score for shit, but isn't that why we have Webber, Miller, Peja, Bibby, Bobby, etc.?
5) This has nothing to do with the team, but I'd like to point out that if you watch the games and pretend that Grant Napear is a midget when they show him sitting behind press row next to Jerry Reynolds, the game becomes a lot funnier.
You know what makes sports funnier for me? When Dan and D.P. are watching sports (especially football) in his room and yelling and groaning at different plays, I like to pretend that they're having sex.