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Who starts at point is settled for now, but backup still not set in stone

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Although not on display Friday evening at Sleep Train Arena during the Kings/Pacers matchup (Tyreke Evans sat with a bruised left knee), the recent on-court pairing of Evans and Aaron Brooks seems to have helped Sacramento get it’s offense back on track.

The win totals may not be piling up but it sure is promising to see the team score more points lately.

The decision by Coach Keith Smart to insert Brooks into the starting point guard role to replace Isaiah Thomas coincided with the fact that Evans jumper was finding it’s mark.

Since the change, Evans is averaging 21 points, 4.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds. Brooks’ average has also increased to 10.8 per game.

I caught up with Coach Smart before the game and he explained why Brooks didn’t get the job out of training camp.

“I saw things in training camp where I didn’t think he was himself from when he played in the league before,” Smart said. “I knew it was going to take some time for him and even he said and suggested that he’d been out of it for a while. Sometimes you go and play overseas and you will do things that are necessary for that team at that moment not knowing that you are going to have to do things to get yourself ready to play back in the NBA game.”

Brooks knew how to excel in the NBA game which is one reason why Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie had a soft spot in his heart for Brooks for many years and acquiring him was something Petrie had tried to do a number of times.

With all that in mind, it was just a matter of time.

“Slowly and slowly, he started to get a little bit better, a little bit better and you can see his game is now caught up with him,” Smart said.

Brooks is happy the team is playing a little bit better and thinks that he and Tyreke just click.

“I think we feed off of each other,” Brooks said. “When he shoots a shot, he always has a rhythm and I’m a guy that doesn’t really need the ball as much.”

For Brooks, it’s being in the starting role and knowing he is going to get a chance to establish himself at the point that matters.

“As far as starting or coming off of the bench, you’re playing the same amount of minutes, you just know when you’re playing. That consistency kind of helps you, kind of delegates your game a little bit.”

Both Evans and Brooks credit John Salmons, the crafty veteran, for knowing where to be on the floor and how to help both Evans and Brooks get the ball where they like it.

“We’ve opened up the floor a lot,” Brooks said. “Not just me. A lot of it is John (Salmons) as well. You have to respect his (Evans) outside shot a little bit more so I think that has helped him out and given him some driving lanes as just let him be the athlete that he is.”

“I don’t want to say it was just me or anything like that, but I think we’ve done a collective job of sharing the ball and spreading it out and getting easy shots.”

—–

So that leaves only enough minutes for one more point guard type of player. And the Kings have two.

Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette now seem to be locked in a battle for the remaining minutes.

You may have noticed lately that both players have at least once received the dreaded DNP-CD – the did not play, coaches decision tag. This is something Smart says he’s going to have to figure out going forward.

“What I’m desperately trying to find is that guy,” Smart said. “I’ve got to give those guys some consistent minutes to find out for sure and that means probably eliminating one guy for a period or time. That’s always going to be difficult because both guys (Thomas and Fredette) can play. Both guys bring something completely different.”

The hard part, Smart says, is making sure both guys are always ready to play.

“Let’s say a guy is out of the rotation,” Smart said. “Here comes a night where you need that guy but mentally he may not be there. So I kind of sprinkled one in here and one on there because on any given night I may need something from one of those two guys and I keep their minds clear, but at the same time how to give them the consistent minutes to see if this is the guy or that is the guy.”

—–

For my money, I think Jimmer should get the call to backup Brooks.

And I’m a guy that at the end of last season, Fredette would be a non-factor entering the 2012-12 campaign.

Fredette has done everything that has been asked of him and more. He is one of the few guys on the team that you can tell how much work he put into improving his game in the offseason. He no longer forces his dribble into the land of the giants. He keeps his dribble alive more often than not. And I really like the way he directs traffic when leading the team.

As much of a fan favorite he may be, Thomas is not yet at the level Fredette has attained.

Jimmer has shown remarkable patience this season in his limited time of the floor. And when he gets consistent time on the floor, the spark Fredette brings will only shine brighter and brighter in the future.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF:

DARREN HALL

https://www.facebook.com/DarrenHallPhotographynet

http://darrenhallphotographynet.zenfolio.com/

 

Aaron Brooks pushes the ball into the lane hoping to find a teammate once he comes around the other side of the key
Thomas Robinson skies high over Tyler Hansbrough in trying to grab the rebound
Jimmer Fredette drives past George Hill en route to an easy bucket
Jason Thompson sets for a short jumper over David West
DeMarcus Cousins celebrates as he gets the foul call instead of having the foul called on him
Brooks knocks away the shot by Gerald Green – so what if he fouled him
Sam Young slides by John Salmons for a basket
David West hits a jumper from the top of the key over Chuck Hayes

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