If I had to describe V.J. King's game in one word, I'd probably use "reliable" or "smooth." He plays in control at all times and you can count on him to make the right play. King has all the tools to succeed at this level and probably at the NBA level. He's a good shooter and in fact, he is second on the Cardinals in three-point percentage at 53%. The Cardinals like to drive and kick, but unfortunately, those they are kicking to haven't been knocking down shots lately: Adel is shooting a mere 28.9% from 3, Snider is at 33%, and Donovan Mitchell is at 29%. King is only attempting 1.4 threes per game, but if they can bring that number up and if he can continue with his sharpshooting, the Cardinals offense would improve drastically. Watch this Cardinals possession and watch as King quietly gravitates to the left corner and drills the 3:
| || |
But, as I said, there is a learning curve to be expected for King and in particular, on defense. Rick Pitino teams are known for their intensity and their defensive excellence. King has to show more intensity and confidence on the defensive end. I'd venture a guess that King only averaging 14.8 minutes per game has more to do with his defense than what we're seeing on the offensive end. Here's two examples from Saturday's game against the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels. On this first play, notice King leaves his man (#5, senior guard Isaac McGlone) to double team sophomore F/C Nick Mayo (#10). Double teaming Mayo isn't a bad idea - he's averaging 18.9 points per game this season - but leaving McGlone, a career 38% three-point shooter and currently shooting 42% on the season, wide open is. Watch the possession and notice that King doesn't close out on McGlone with urgency:
Here's the very next possession in the game. Notice that Mayo sets a screen for McGlone, but King evades the screen and somehow McGlone is able to beat him off the dribble for a layup attempt:
King has the potential to do great things for the Louisville Cardinals basketball program. The Cardinals had a good team that made the Final Four in 2012-2013 (losing to eventual champion the Kentucky Wildcats and Anthony Davis) and I remember watching that team and thinking they were still a piece and a year away. Guys were having to do things that they weren't comfortable with, they didn't have the chemistry that a championship team usually can find, but they were playing hard and winning. The next season it all clicked and the Cardinals became NCAA Champions. I have the same gut feeling about this team and if V.J. King can develop into the kind of player he's projected to be, this team, which only has 3 seniors in Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, and transfer Tony Hicks, could have great things on the horizon.
Brandon Pence is the co-founder of "B2 Hoops" and the founder of "The Bulls Charge." Follow B2 Hoops on Twitter and like us on Facebook.