Kings (27-41, 13-20 road) vs. Thunder (39-29, 25-9 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 2:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.0 (16th), Kings – 104.6 (20th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 105.3 (10th), Kings – 108.4 (24th)
Adjustment periods. It usually takes a team and a player about 10 games to get adjusted to each other. The player has to adjust to the team’s routines, while the team has to adjust to the player’s strengths and weaknesses. When you increase the new players on the team by 3 total, the adjustment period multiplies by that much more.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott (and signed Norris Cole), they didn’t just trade for three end of the bench guys (see end of season Reggie Williams and Grant Jerrett signings from seasons past). Instead, they traded for someone that would eventually become a starter (Gibson) and someone who would get heavy minutes off the bench in McDermott. It’s been 12 games since the trade, and the Thunder are 8-4. Four games won, four games lost, and then four games won again. It’s taken some time, but both seem to be syncing into some semblance of harmonious balance with the team.
Cole, on the other hand, has been a bit of a different story. My thinking is the Thunder made the decision on which point guard to pick up when Enes Kanter was hurt. At that time, the Thunder bench needed a serious dose of scoring from somewhere. Enter Cole, who was called upon to be instant offense while playing in China. But here’s the thing: Kanter didn’t stay hurt. He came back about 3 weeks earlier than expected and the reserve offense once again ran best when he was the focal point. After a few games of Cole being a shoot-first point guard, Donovan decided to go back to Semaj Christon as his back up point guard for the time being.
Will Cole get another shot? Of course he will. With 15 games left in the regular season, that’s more than enough time to work Cole back into the rotation if he is willing to adjust his game.
Season Series Summary
This is the third and final meeting of the season between the Thunder and Kings. The two teams split their first two meetings, with both games taking place in California’s capital city.
Three Big Things
The Kings transitioned from being a big man oriented team with DeMarcus Cousins, to being a guard/wing oriented team that plays more aggressively in the passing lanes. With their dependence on younger players now, the Kings looks for points in transition and points off of turnovers to be a big staple of their offensive output. With the Thunder’s penchant for turning the ball over, this may be just what the Kings need to get some momentum for this game.
2. Offense in the Post
The Kings are depending on a pair of young players to get a lot of their minutes in the post. Rookie Skal Labissiere scored a career high 32 points, while also grabbing 11 boards in his last game against the Phoenix Suns. And second year center Willie Cauley-Stein has gotten a bit of a statistical boost with the departure of Cousins. But even with all that, there should be no way the Steven Adams, Taj Gibson, and Enes Kanter don’t eventually wear these two out and put up some stats on them.
3. Nina Westbrook
Shoutout to Nina Marie. We should all be so lucky to have someone like that in our corner.