Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Sacramento Kings

Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers.

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Sacramento Kings Team Overview

The Kings finished with a 22-44 record last season, good for second worst in the Western Conference.

As per usual the last few seasons, last year was kind of a mess for them. Tyreke Evans continues to kind of regress from his stellar rookie season a few years ago. DeMarcus Cousins is far from reaching his potential. Lottery pick Jimmer Fredette hardly saw the court while the last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Isaiah Thomas, had a very nice season establishing himself as the starting point guard.

The Kings landed a player that their fans should be very excited about in the 2012 NBA Draft in Thomas Robinson. Robinson had a great season at Kansas last year and is a high character guy with a high motor that could really change the culture amongst the young players in Sacramento.

The talent is seemingly there in Sacramento but making the pieces fit is not going to be an easy challenge. The Kings also added Aaron Brooks to help with their backcourt depth next season but the playoffs seem nearly impossible barring a huge turnaround.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the Kings four times last year and beat them three of those times.

The Kings won the first meeting on Feb. 9 in Sacramento 106-101. The Kings rallied late in the fourth quarter to steal this game as the Thunder turned the ball over 23 times in the game.

Kevin Durant had 27 points and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 33 on 15-of-26 shooting. James Harden scored 17 while Serge Ibaka had 10 blocked shots.

The Thunder then played the Kings three times in an 11-day span between April 13-24 and won every time.

OKC blew out the Kings at home April 13 115-89. Durant had 29 points in 30 minutes, Westbrook had 22 and Harden did not play.

Durant had a near triple-double a few days later in Sacramento as the Thunder won 103-92. Durant finished with 29 points, seven assists and 14 rebounds. Westbrook had 18 and Harden had 20.

In their final meeting of the season, OKC won 118-110 at home. Durant had 32 and Westbrook had just 13. Daequan Cook had 19 and made four 3-pointers as Harden once again did not play.

Durant averaged 29.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game vs. the Kings in four games. He shot .472 percent from the field and .467 percent from three.

Westbrook averaged 21.5 points and shot .514 percent from the field.

The matchup

The Kings had the 26th ranked offense overall in the NBA last season in terms of points per possession. They were especially weak on isolation plays ranking 23rd despite turning to those plays 15.3 percent of the time.

They were strong on transition ranked 4th in the league and the pick-and-roll where they ranked 10th. They only ran the pick-and-roll 14.4 percent of the time and were second to last on spot-up shooting plays.

Defensively the Kings were second to last in the league overall meaning they just about had no way to slow down the Thunder. They weren’t too bad against isolation plays ranking 11th but the Thunder were 2nd best in the league scoring in isolation situations.

The Kings’ best chance to beat the Thunder was to push the tempo and make it a high-scoring game. The Kings can’t always keep up with the Thunder in a game like this but if they catch them on a night where the Thunder defense isn’t too crisp, they can keep the game close, as they did a few times last year.

Next year

The Thunder will play the Kings three times next year first in OKC on Dec. 14, then in Sacramento Jan. 25 and last in OKC on April 15.

The Kings aren’t expected to improve dramatically next season but they have the talent to play any team including the Thunder close from time to time. Robinson is a candidate to win Rookie of the Year and should have a great year although the matchup vs. OKC isn’t ideal for him.

Cousins had some big games vs. the Thunder next season and if he ever takes over, which he is capable of on any given night, the Kings could beat the Thunder.

The real question is with Evans and if he will figure out how to improve next season. If he does, he has All-Star potential but if not, expect another mess in Sacramento next season and for them to probably lose to the Thunder all three times.

Topics: Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings

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