There's no doubting that the Sydney Kings have a star-studded team, but from what we saw at the NBL Blitz, they will struggle mightily if those stars are not up and running.
Sydney finished the Blitz winless and there were definitely some pretty damning stretches of play, especially against Melbourne United.
Obviously with Josh Childress sitting out the tournament, the Kings weren't at full strength, but the complete lack of effort and intensity against Melbourne was concerning to say to the least.
Yes, they were no longer in contention to come away with the silverware, but the defence was a disaster all night long. The offence wasn't much better.
With Jason Cadee and Childress both sitting on the sidelines against Melbourne makes things difficult, but it was evident from the outset that no one was ready to step up and take up the slack. Great teams have role players who are capable of doing this. Melbourne were without Hakim Warrick and Nate Tomlinson but others stood up. A 36 point loss is not acceptable, and the only positive about the huge loss is the fact that it is only pre-season and there is plenty of time for the team to turn things around.
Sydney struggled to get an even scoring load throughout the tournament. Jason Cadee kept the Kings in the game against Illawarra scoring 30 points whilst his teammates struggled to get going. The only time they were able to get more than 2 players in double figures was against Adelaide.
Is the bench good enough to compete with the depth and fire power that other teams have?
This is a huge question mark hanging over the Kings, and one that will determine the outcome of their season. We know Childress will produce if healthy, Thornton should be able to give his team at least 15 points a night on a regular basis, and Cadee will give 100% every night.
Khazzouh certainly didn't star, highlighted by his ineffectiveness against Melbourne. He finally scored his first points of the game halfway through the last quarter and finished with 4 points. If he can play the way he did against Illawarra, and not Melbourne, the Kings are obviously a far better team. He was looking for his shot and far more aggressive on both the offensive and defensive end, finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Dion Prewster's tournament doesn't give Sydney fans much to get excited about. Averaging less than 4 points through the three games and not getting involved a whole lot on offence wasn't a great showing on his behalf.
It's not all doom and gloom for the Kings though, with Marcus Thornton and Cadee having good games throughout the tournament. Thornton showed promising signs, scoring 24 points in his Blitz debut against Adelaide and going on to average almost 17 points and 3 assists per game. It was great to see him showing off his passing ability with some flashy assists.
He also showed off his handles. I have a feeling Sydney fans will enjoy seeing some of this in the regular season!
A video posted by Sydney Kings ? (@officialsydneykings) on Sep 25, 2015 at 7:04pm PDT
We all know Thornton is a volume shooter, and he certainly lived up to that. He averaged 9 three-point attempts per game, including 12 against Adelaide in which he only drained 4. Many of those attempts weren't the best shot available, and that is definitely something Thornton will need to work on.
Maybe it's not fair to judge Sydney until they have Childress back on the hardwood. One thing is for sure though; Sydney need to be 100% healthy for this season to be a success.