You don't see rookies like Tyreke Evans every day. Now, we have some solid proof, I guess.
Last night versus Houston, Evans became only the fourth rookie in NBA history to average 20/5/5 in his inaugural season. The accomplishment may not be a basketball trivia staple for years to come. But you'll sure as hell remember that before you manage to remind yourself what the Kings' record was in 2009-2010. Guarantee it.
Jonathan Feigen, whom I consider to be one of the best basketball writers in the business, called out the Kings for making Evans' quest for the 20/5/5/ club their top priority ahead of, um, winning the basketball game.
Evans probably would have secured the achievement whether he was permitted to chase it or not. With a player that talented and that crucial to a franchise's future, the game should have been about winning the game and nothing else. Instead, the Kings demonstrated that individual achievement sometimes matters more than winning. Naturally then, the Kings lost the game and maybe more.
In a season going nowhere, the Rockets won a game and self-respect.
Let's be clear: I'm not one to normally disagree with Jonathan. I hate doing it. Hate. Hate. Hate doing it. But I feel that his criticism here is rather unnecessary.
Had the Kings been in contention for a playoff spot, this would have been a legitimate concern. And, in most cases, even if a team is guaranteed to miss the playoffs, it nonetheless aims to end the season on a high note and tries to win as many games as possible - in other words, the same thing that our beloved Rockets are currently trying to do.
But these are the Kings. They've lost ten out of their last eleven games. Beating the Rockets at this point in the season isn't going to do much for the fans, or even for the team. They're already looking ahead to next year, to building around Tyreke and Carl and whomever they draft this season. Why not give them a chance to be proud of something that will resonate much more than a win over a non-playoff team?
Matt Moore over at Hardwood Paroxysm combats Feigen's sentiments quite effectively, and manages to defend the loss from a strategic standpoint.
This game? Meant nothing. Has no impact on anything. It pads the stats of its players and was meant to entertain the Kings faithful. And entertain it did, because even though they lost, instead of moping around and booing or checking their calendars for when their next tanning appointment is like the average Staples crowd, the crowd was plugged in.
Furthermore, the Kings need draft help. NEED IT. Not every team is getting a seven foot Chinese dude with awesome touch and .25 good feet back next season. The loss helped them. Every loss helps them at this point. People criticize tanking. Well the Kings didn't tank last night. They just tried to do something other than win. Giving it to your best player and watching him jack up crazy shot after crazy shot? Kobe Bryant almost won an MVP in 2006 that way. So let's cool it with all the judgment there. Kevin Martin had himself a fine game after he'd already failed to help get the Rockets into the playoffs like he was supposed to. Good for him. But Evans was the story. Of the game, of the fans, of the night.
Okay, so now that we've cleared that up, feel free to discuss the Rockets once again, like we're supposed to.