Today we take a look at Sacramento, Minnesota (D-Rose) and what´s going on in Memphis.
Hope has arrived in Sacramento as the youngsters are playing really well to start the season. They are 10-10 sitting on eight place in the stacked Western Conference, ahead of Pelicans, Rockets and Jazz among others. To reach a play-off spot after 80+ games is another story but for now they play well and are fun to watch, check them out. Kings have one of the youngest rosters in the NBA and some real talent, Buddy Hield (24, 1st Rnd, 6th) is having a breakout year scoring 18.8 ppg in his third year as SG. DeÁron Fox (20 years, 1st Rnd, 5th ) with a year under his belt is now firing at all cylinders scoring 17.5 ppg as PG with relentless drives to the basket while shooting 38% from three. Willie Cauley-Stein (25, 1st Rnd, 6th) at 7 feet and mobile playing his best basketball in his career scoring 14.5 ppg in his fourth year. Bogdan Bogdanovic (26, 1st Rnd, 27th) out of Serbia is playing really well, he attacks hard and shoots the three at 37% scoring 13.9 ppg. Marvin Bagley III (19, 1st Rnd, 2nd) the former Duke player picked second in the draft is an insane athlete that at 6´11 can play both center or in the future with a better 3-point shot, at the four spot. He is already scoring 12.7 ppg in just 24 minutes, a future All Star…To make things worse for opponents the Kings also have Harry Giles (20, 1st Rnd, 20th) from the 2017 draft, he was injured last season but is now slowly moved in to the rotation as PF/C scoring 5.1 ppg, super athlete as well. They also have Skal Labissiere (22) a 1st rounder at 6´11 and Justin Jackson (23, 1st Rnd, 15th). This team will be fun to watch the coming years, look out! But for all this talent to function properly there is a forgotten man, Nemanja Bjelica (30, Serbia). He played three years in Minnesota scoring 6 ppg while being misused by Tom Thibodeau, he was on his way to the 76ers this season but then changed his mind and was about to return to Europe when legend and General Manager for The Kings, Vlade Divac (Serbia, of course) made a call. Nemanja found his place in the NBA and now scores 11.2 ppg shooting 50% from three, playing solid defense as well. The most important thing he does for his team though is that he creates spacing, all of his teammates scores at a much higher rate when he is on the floor, DeÁron Fox´s effective field goal percentage is 17% higher with Nemanja on the court as an example.
Wolves have won six of their last eight games in a revival after trading Jimmy Butler to 76ers, but with a 10-11 record they need to keep on winning to have a chance to make the play-off. They are 0-8 on the road and are now facing one of the toughest schedules in the league while Pelicans, Rockets and Jazz are chasing from behind, not an easy task. On the bright side, D-Rose is back! One of the better stories this year is the fantastic play off the bench that Derick Rose provides this year, scoring 19.1 ppg in 30 minutes, second best in the team. He looks terrific, super quick and athletic with good body control and in constant attack mode. He shoots 46.4% from three, FG 49.1% (best in his career) and FT 85.5%. His scoring this year is actually above his career number (18.9 ppg) and has not been higher since the 11-12 season when he played for Chicago, that is amazing for a 30-year old with multiple knee injuries, way to go D-Rose!
Grizzlies are at fifth place in the Western Conference with a 12-7 record, playing better than most people could imagine before this season. The main reason is that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are healthy again and that the former assistant coach, now head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is playing to the team´s strength. The strength is Grit ´n Grind, nobody plays at a slower pace than the Grizzlies in the NBA, 96.3 possessions per game, boring yes, effective, absolutely! According to ESPN, coach Bickerstaff told them “We want to bring people to the mud and see how comfortable they are in that type of fight”. It seems to work just fine!