Road trip continues as Kings visit Martin, Rockets

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Road trip continues as Kings visit Martin, Rockets

KINGS (4-7) vs.HOUSTON (3-7)
(APCSN) -- The Houston Rockets can finally settle in at home following a road-heavy portion of their schedule.The Sacramento Kings are looking for more success on the road as their five-game trip continues.Houston opens a stretch of nine of 11 at home Friday night when the Kings try to win two straight for the first time this season.Following Wednesday's 101-95 overtime loss at San Antonio, the Rockets (3-7) have won just once while playing a Western Conference-high seven road games.

Houston, playing its fifth road game in nine nights, shot 42.7 percent after missing eight of 10 in the extra session. The team is hitting 43.2 percent from the field on the road compared to 46.9 in three home games."That's just how the game goes," said former King Kevin Martin, averaging 14.1 points on the road versus 22.7 in Houston. "Percentages always catch up in this league, so that's just how it went. It wasn't in our favor."Sacramento (4-7) begins this season series on the heels of its first road win, 98-91 over Toronto on Wednesday. The Kings had lost their first four road games by an average of 23.3 points.
REWIND: Thomas, Cousins spearhead win
"I told our guys when you get a road win it's like winning two because you actually get the win and you get a confidence booster that you know you can play well on the road," coach Keith Smart said.Since Smart took over for the fired Paul Westphal last week, second-year forward DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 18.3 points and 13.5 rebounds while posting a double-double in all four games.He had 21 points and a career-high 19 boards Wednesday."He's a new player, man," said Tyreke Evans, scoring 24.5 points per game since the coaching switch. "I'm happy for him. He's done a great job just going out there and playing, helping us, not arguing with anybody on the team, just staying focused."Cousins averaged 17.8 points with 10.3 rebounds as the Kings dropped three of four to the Rockets last season. Cousins had 15 points and 15 boards as Sacramento snapped Houston's four-game home winning streak in the series with a 104-101 road victory April 5.Samuel Dalembert also had 15 rebounds for the Kings in that game, but they opted not to re-sign the veteran center and he joined the Rockets last month. Dalembert has been in Houston's starting lineup for the last three games, averaging 4.7 points and 6.3 boards.Rookie forward Chandler Parsons has scored 30 points while starting Houston's last three games in place of the injured Chase Budinger.Rockets forward Luis Scola has posted a double-double in each of the Kings' last six visits to Houston, averaging 20.7 points and 11.8 boards.Sacramento might be without leading scorer Marcus Thornton for a third straight game due to a thigh injury. He totaled 37 points in two games versus Houston last season after being acquired from New Orleans on Feb. 23.If Thornton is out, rookie Jimmer Fredette could make third straight start. He's gone 5 for 17 from the field in the first two.Martin is averaging 22.3 points in six games against Sacramento since being dealt to the Rockets on Feb. 18, 2010. He scored 30 in the Kings' last visit April 5.

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.