Well, it's December and the youth movement has driven to a halt. KP and THJ are both hurt, Willy showed some signs of life but was back to DNP status, Frank showed aggression but saw less time than usual and Ron Baker looks just like the Undrafted FA we brought in last year but with less minutes. This was a boring game with a depleted line-up and it's a lot easier to get excited for effort when there are players with a future out there instead of Michael Beasley as our focal point. Let's vent...
Kanter: Great stat-line and some nice dynamics in his game. 18 pts, 16 boards, 2 asts with 3 TO's. The good developments? That talk about looking for the right kickouts might bare fruit yet; he took to the post and looked for kickouts. It does feel like he's already decided he's gonna pass or shoot rather than is reacting right now, but this is new to him and the effort to find guys was clear. On top of that he did alright in switch situations and with Jack (and suddenly Sessions) getting minutes, being able to hold his own in a switch is key. He also took midrange jumpers, making two with another rimming out. The bad...Vucevic can shoot and Kanter really didn't look comfortable chasing. There were more late rotations than recent efforts have shown as well. Just in general, it wasn't a good defensive game outside of some switches where he did well.
Beas: 10/19 for 21 points, 3 boards, an assist and a block in 28 minutes. Offensively, he was our main go-to. We ran some of the same plays KP gets but to him and the dude responded with some buckets. But there were plenty of bad decisions, 5 TO's and his defensive focus was either atrocious or his teammates were blaming him a lot. I saw Lee give a dirty look and Kanter look around for Beasley after a missed rotation among other moments where it at least appeared that Beasley missed something. I've called him our new D-Will aka reverse Lance...15 mins should be his max because dude will drive everyone mad if he's out there longer.
Jack: 9, 7 and 4 against a tough defender in Payton is a very nice stat-line. He was dedicated to getting inside and finding guys, plus he was aggressive in finding his own looks. All of that said though, he was like Kanter in that his defensive play didn't keep up with his productivity elsewhere. Payton tagged him for 15, 5 and 6 on a more efficient performance. So while Jack was a steady presence, he got thoroughly outplayed and unlike nights where KP and THJ hide it...it was glaring in this one.
Lee: Of all the guys out there, Lee prolly gets the game ball. 19 pts, 5 assists, 5 boarts, 2 steals over 36 minutes which left him clearly exhausted at the end of the game. He left it all out there on BOTH ends. Without the TO's, the forces or the vanishing act at the other end of the floor.
Dotson: Looked like a rookie getting his first start on a big surprise. 2 pts, 1 board on 1/3 from the field in 22 minutes. He was tentative quite a bit on offense. Defensively though, he was great on ball denial and constantly chasing his men through screens. Dotson's defensive play wasn't half bad and it's easy to picture a time when both he and Frank are shrinking the floor for opposing offenses by chasing their men and constantly getting a hand in the way of any open space. That said, he didn't look ready...just showed some promise on defense. I'm willing to eat some losses getting him more comfortable out there though. Much better him than one of the older guys.
Doug: 4 pts, 5 boards, 3 asts in 30 minutes but 1/7 from the field, nothing to stand out defensively good or bad and while it was a stead, respectable performance...this was a guy I'd hoped would step up. Instead he was pressing a bit, even on wide open jumpers he'd seem to fly through his motion and rush his release as Clyde pointed out multiple times.
Lance: 11 pts, 5 boards and 1 ast in 21 minutes...but it was 11 points on 11 attempts and the real value he provided wasn't in the "meh" stat-line but in his defensive work. Honestly, he gets in the right places to receive the ball from a "make the right pass" guy like Frank frequently...but he isn't the guy you want catching that pass so often. Defensively he also is pretty consistently in the right place at the right time and he's much more consistently effective even if he's not a pure stopper. Unfortunately this is shaping into another season where we're asking him for more minutes and a bigger role than suits him because of injuries and depth issues. So I'll prolly hate him soon.
KOQ: This guy's 17 minutes were, for another game, moving closer to early KOQ instead of listless Kyle. 7 pts, 4 boards and 3 blocks but his presence was felt throughout his time. He's picking his spots to shoot well lately and defensively, the blocks weren't a fluke. He's starting to trend back toward good Kyle again in time for the Star Wars movie to bring back that Kylo nickname.
Frank: We want aggressive Frank, coach has asked for aggression too...so how'd he get down to 16 minutes and pretty much no crunch time on a night when he was shooting with confidence for a change. 9 pts on 4/9 from the field, 1 ast and 2 boards. The stat-line is pedestrian, his best passes were to Lance which trims an already lean assist opportunity list. But he got to use more straight up screen action as the ball handler instead of using off-ball screens and swinging it. He was down to pull up and pop off those screens. A couple of shots were even somewhat forces. He was his usual defensive self, challenging guys full court and poking his hand in the passing lane often. He did pick up some bad fouls, mainly on switching to other guys; he goes AT them instead of moving IN FRONT of them and it leads to quick whistles that cut his first half. The fourth quarter "let's give Sessions a whirl" was more questionable unless Jeff was worried about the ankle.
Ron: An assist and a steal over an 8 minute span that I'd sum up with the GIF of Alonzo Mourning looking mad then shrugging and giving in. Baker didn't bother trying to shoot, didn't get many meaningful touches and really only stood out for some solid efforts against Jonathon Simmons after he had made a couple of plays against the last guy on him. Baker has had injuries and g-league stints for his development so far and his 4.5 million while too much money is at least a smaller amount...so I'll give him some more time before I get too mad.
Sessions: In 4 minutes the only numbers on his stat-line are two missed FGA's. Jeff's not doing him favors by trotting out Baker as his running mate for just 4 minutes in crunch time after playing virtually no minutes since game three. Was I annoyed? Yeah a bit, but not at Sessions. Which brings me to...
Jeff: I'm just at a personal disconnect with this coach. Feels like some players get a pass for defensive ineptitude that's hurting the team (Michael Beasley come on down) while half the fanbase screams from the mountains that this is a meritocracy. Frank looks like second half spark French Prince is back but he gives up fourth quarter minutes not only to Jarrett Jack (cooked by Payton all night) but also to Ramon Sessions (not garbage time...important minutes). There was some logic to starting Dotson and not breaking up the second unit chemistry except...when's the last time we really touted the second unit for efficacy? They haven't even really played together much with KOQ starting while Kanter was out. So my best explanation for the move doesn't really hold up well (can't call it youth development with the rest of Jeff's rotation patterns). That's not to come down too hard, we're not supposed to win with KP AND THJ out but the effort was good. It's just that at this point, after a summer of youth talk and winning doesn't matter; I just sat through 49 combined minutes from Lance and Beasley while Willy got 0. 32 mins for Jack and Sessions while Frank got 16. It feels like a one foot in, one foot out approach for a team that's starting to break down before Christmas while the old guys get the bulk of minutes in bad losses to the likes of ATL and Orlando. Progress halted with injuries mainly, so I don't mean to hit Hornacek too hard; but I'd like to see a clear philosophical approach sooner than later...if you want to win, start Doug and go for it. If you're more concerned with youth, work as hard to find 4 minutes for Willy as you did for Sessions who got his minutes at the expense of our lottery pick rookie WHO WAS FINALLY LOOKING FOR HIS DAMNED SHOT. But yeah...this was a bad situation that Jeff didn't handle well imo.
PG - Ntilikina/Payton/Taylor
SG - L Williams/Z. Smith/Clavell
SF - MKG/Hezonja
PF - Saric/Bertans/Lydon
C - Gobert/Mahinimi
Ex A. Kaba, Monte Morris, Hartenstein
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