Kings look to snap skid as Cousins returns to face Hawks

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Kings look to snap skid as Cousins returns to face Hawks

The Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks each struggled to overcome a short-handed rotation in their most recent games.While it's unknown if the Hawks will have a pair of players available, the Kings are expected to have DeMarcus Cousins back in the lineup for Friday night's matchup in Sacramento.Cousins was suspended for two games after he confronted San Antonio television analyst Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner" following a 97-86 defeat to the Spurs last Friday. The NBA players' association is attempting to recoup the center's lost pay from those contests.REWIND: Cousins suspended
Without their leading scorer and rebounder, the Kings (2-6) suffered two more losses, at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday and to Portland on Tuesday."Despite believing the penalty (is) unwarranted, I want to apologize to the Sacramento Kings, our fans and especially to my coaches and teammates for this distraction of our goals," Cousins said in a statement. "As a leader of the team, I have to make the best decisions so my teammates can count on me. I am committed to continued growth and being the best player I can be."Starting guard Isaiah Thomas also missed the 103-86 loss to the Trail Blazers due to personal reasons and his replacement, Aaron Brooks, didn't return after injuring his left ankle in the first quarter. Thomas is expected to back, but Brooks' status is uncertain.The Kings got top draft pick Thomas Robinson back Tuesday after his own two-game ban for elbowing Detroit's Jonas Jerebko during a 105-103 victory Nov. 7. He had a career-high 12 points off the bench against Portland, but James Johnson was the only starter to score more than 10, registering a season-best 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting."The stuff that has happened to our team over the last few games, that's the frustrating part," coach Keith Smart said. "These guys that are playing right now are giving their all. Obviously when our team was intact, we were much better. We got to make sure that we don't have these kind of incidents anymore."RELATED: Lowly Kings full of surprises
The Hawks' Al Horford and Devin Harris had to deal with circumstances more out of their control as both were hit with a stomach illness before Wednesday's game at Golden State, the third in a four-game West Coast road trip.Already struggling to find consistent scoring, those absences hardly helped, but Atlanta proved competitive in a 92-88 loss. Lou Williams had 18 points off the bench, and Josh Smith provided 16 points and 10 rebounds."It was a gutsy performance by my guys," coach Larry Drew said. "After going down by 12 at one point, we fought back. A little short-handed tonight but still we had an opportunity."After topping 100 points in each of their first two games, the Hawks (3-4) have averaged 87.4 over their five. The Kings, meanwhile, have allowed an average of 100.7 over their last six contests.Atlanta has gotten the better of Sacramento's defense lately, averaging 110.3 points during an eight-game win streak in the series.Smith had 28 points in a 106-99 victory in northern California on March 11 while Cousins equaled that output and grabbed 12 rebounds.Cousins' 24.0-point average in three games against the Hawks is his best versus any opponent.

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

SACRAMENTO -- Changes are coming to the Sacramento Kings. The team quietly made news on Monday evening when it was reported that Roland Beech, the Kings VP of Basketball Results, will not return after two years on the job.

But Sacramento hasn’t abandoned the analytics movement. In fact, they are about to invest heavily in a new group, with a new face at the helm. -- Luke Bornn, who will join the Kings front office as the new VP of Analytics and Strategy, NBC Sports California has learned.

In accepting the role, Bornn, 31, will leave soccer giant A.S. Roma as well as his positions as an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University and visiting scholar at Harvard University. He’ll be taxed with building a new department in Sacramento that will look to bring in some of the brightest minds in the field of analytics.

He is a stat head for sure, but one with a focus on creating a system of sketching and mapping the spatial movements of players using the incredible technologies now available to teams through the NBA’s SportVU system.

“We’ll be looking at more advanced modeling tools often with the player tracking data to try and get a deeper understanding of player performance,” Bornn told NBC Sports California. “There is a lot of what happens on the court that really is not picked up by the box score. A lot of players that make big contributions make it in ways that don’t appear. It’s not an assist, it’s not a rebound, it’s not a block.”

According to their site, “SportVU utilizes a six-camera system installed in basketball arenas to track the real-time positions of players and the ball 25 times per second. Utilizing this tracking data, STATS is able to create a wealth of innovative statistics based on speed, distance, player separation and ball possession.”

Introduced to the basketball data world while working at Harvard in 2012 by Kirk Goldsberry, who now works for the San Antonio Spurs front office, Bornn is already well known in the basketball world for his work.

“Kirk and I sort of hit it off,” Bornn said. “He had just gotten SportVU data and he basically said to me, ‘I have this data, but I have no idea what to do with it, I have the basketball side, but I don’t have the technical side.’ I had the technical side and so it started a long collaboration of working with player tracking data.”

Bornn has co-authored papers presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in each of the previous four years, including four straight Sloan finalist papers.

Every team in the league has someone looking over this data, but Bornn hopes to tailor the information to the needs of the Kings’ staff.

“It’s not about me coming in and saying, ‘Here is how to think about the game and here’s the magic numbers,’” Bornn said. “It’s really about me going to them and saying, ‘How do you think about the game, what is it that you care about, is there questions you want answered and can I help you with that?’”  

The plan is for Bornn and his team to build a database of sorts that is accessible to players, coaches and the front office that relies heavily on video to show information, instead of just numbers on a page. They will have your conventional statistics, but an array of other options as well specifically created for the team.

“My role with the Kings will be all encompassing,” Bornn said. “It’s player evaluation, opponent scouting, it’s performance - with the sports science group there. We’ll be looking at all aspects, from the basics of stats, all the way to the more advanced metrics.”

From developing oncourt strategies to charting player health, Bornn and his team will make information accessible to the Kings’ front office, coaching and medical staff with the hope of adding yet another resource for the franchise.

Predicting player injuries is one of the hot button topics in the NBA at this moment with the league going as far as elongating the All-Star break and taking another 10 days onto the schedule to help spread out back-to-back games. It’s a complex issue that is in its fledgling stages.

“In terms of injuries, that’s where everyone wants to go and I think that’s where we’ll aim to go as well, but right now, that’s very much an unsolved problem,” Bornn said.

It appears that the Kings are jumping into the analytics field with both feet. Bornn is moving to Sacramento with his family and will be on the ground as the Kings prepare for a very important 2017 NBA Draft and then free agency.