Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

July 20, 2009
Post-summer league tidbits

So as to avoid getting in hot water with the bosses, this blog post was written on the way out the door to vacation. I'll be out of commision for a while, but had a few final notes before departing.

* Per today's Kevin Martin story, I was given more information about the trip to Indonesia he'll be making in August.

Azrul Ananda is not only a fellow Sacramento State graduate, but the 32-year-old commissioner of the DetEksi Basketball League. The DBL is the largest student basketball competition (junior high and high school) in the country, and Martin will be joining the first ever Indonesia Developmental Camp which was organized by the DBL and the NBA. They'll be in Surabaya, Indonesia, where previous NBA events included visits from Indiana's Danny Granger and the Knicks' David Lee (currently a restricted free agent).

As for Martin and his mindset, it was clear in our 30-minute interview that he's encouraged by the recent Kings moves. He seemed encouraged in general, relieved that his ankle is feeling good again and enjoying the routine discussed in the story. He's in Sacramento now, though, as his basketball camp at Capital Christian starts today.

* There's still more material to come from Vegas, as I have an Omri Casspi story that will be published soon.

Summer League itself was interesting as it pertained to Casspi, as his historic presence (first Israeli to be drafted in the first round; planning on being first Israeli to play in the NBA) clearly broadens the Kings' relevance outside of Sacramento.

I've been in constant contact with media outlets in Israel looking for updates (a TV man from Israel even made the trip to Casspi's post-draft press conference in Sacramento), and the New York Times' Howard Beck recently published a top-notch feature on the 21-year-old.

* For those who didn't follow the summer league observations on my Twitter page, there really wasn't a whole lot of analysis on the blog about the youngsters and how they looked (I saw the first two games live and three practices, but caught much of the subsequent action on the Internet webcast).

Here's the cliff notes on what I saw on the draft picks...

Tyreke Evans - The notion that he gets wherever he wants on the floor is true, and it's a really big deal. He can put defenses on their heels with his style, which qualifies as ball dominating but is very different from the Ron Artest/John Salmons type of pounding the ball.

He's on the lookout for teammates throughout the pounding, and obviously has an incredible knack for slithering/bolting to the rim to finish/get fouled. His shot definitely needs work (he shot 40.2 percent overall), but the good news is that he's willing to put in the work to improve.

I need to watch him more defensively, but his length is a bonus and he seems to have enough lateral quickness to avoid blow-bys from smaller guards. He seems to have a passion for defense, too, which is huge. Overall, he was the talk of the summer league.

And for those who were hung up on the fact that I called Evans a 'project' in the story linked in the previous sentence, it was with the understanding that all rookies need major work and to focus on improvements to make the NBA transition and, thus, are projects. From LeBron on down in recent years, that's the case. And based on this year's draft, I'd venture to say that only the Clippers' Blake Griffin looked more NBA-ready than Evans at Vegas summer league.

Omri Casspi - He has a long ways to go. There were flashes of his playmaking skills, as Casspi clearly has good floor vision and can simply make things happen when the ball is in his hands. That is if it stays in his hands, as turnovers were a major problem for him in his 'debut.'

He's always moving when it's not in his hands, too, although he wondered why that wasn't the case with more of his teammates. He's a slasher who loves to run and brings energy and passion, but his shots didn't fall and he simply struggled to find out where he fit. He really didn't play well, but he is very, very intriguing. And for what it's worth, Kings consultant Pete Carril told me he's a big fan of Casspi's and thinks he could be good.

Jon Brockman - He truly is a beast on the glass, with a rebounds-per-48-minutes rate of 20.4 in the five games. For some kind of perspective, Orlando's Dwight Howard led the league with a rate of 18.6 last season.

The question with Brockman, of course, is how much his height (6-foot-7) will limit him. He struggled to finish on putbacks, as 40.9 percent on field goals is really bad for a guy playing mostly in the paint. He is more athletic than I thought he would be, though, and the as-advertised toughness is legit. It sounded during summer league like Brockman and the Kings were close to signing a contract, but that obviously hasn't happened yet. Still, folks I talk to say they have no doubt he'll be on the regular season roster.

* A belated congratulations to Kings strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro, media relations man Chris Clark and team trainer Pete Youngman for completing the June Rock N' Roll marathon in Seattle.

While Youngman is a veteran of the marathon circuit, Shapiro and Clark trained four-and-a-half months to make their debuts. It wasn't the only thing they had in common, either, as both were raising money for worthy causes.

Shapiro - a Seattle Pacific graduate whose story was chronicled by the Seattle Times' Steve Kelley - was helping a friend in his fight against cancer. Clark, a University of Washington grad who is from the area - had plenty of inspiration to survive all 26.2 miles. His mother suffers from multiple sclerosis, and Clark was raising funds for the brutal autoimmune disease.

* Speaking of Sac State grads, I ran into former Hornets hoopster Derek Lambeth in Vegas.

After three seasons of being underutilized, Lambeth starred in a historic (yes, it's a sad history) 2002-03 senior season in which Sac State made its first conference tournament appearance and upset Montana in the first round before falling to eventual champion Weber State. Now, Lambeth is looking to go pro - as a front-office executive.

Lambeth, who was working for the NBA during summer league, is a Master's candidate at Georgetown University with a focus on Sports Management. He's hoping to get into the talent-evaluating game and work his way to the top. Best of luck, Derek. - Sam Amick

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