Louis King’s game is unique. His physical presence changes the opponent’s offense, and his ability to score in multiple ways creates big match-up problems for coaches. The more you watch him play, the more you see his game has an abstract feeling to it. It’s more Jackson Pollack than Renoir, more Mondrian than Georgia O’Keeffe. That’s the best way I can describe it.
The moment King stepped onto the court Saturday night, he began making everyone around him better. On offense he immediately used his quick leaping ability and length to grab an offensive rebound and put it back … then he hit some threes.
On defense, you saw his seven-foot wingspan force opposing guards to pass the ball wider around the perimeter instead of just across the court. That subtle difference allows post defenders a chance to beat big men across the key to the new post spot as the ball swings around the outside. It also gives wing defenders more time to recover and get a hand up against shooters behind the arc.
King is capable of bringing almost everything the Ducks have been lacking at the small forward spot this season. His lack of stamina will be a factor for a couple weeks as he gets his lungs and legs back under him. Look for him to start the last couple non-conference games as the Ducks likely settle into a lineup of Bol Bol, Payton Pritchard, Will Richardson, King, and Kenny Wooten.
How to Watch Louis King
King doesn’t get the ball and just break everyone down. You’ll see him use his quickness and long strides to come off a screen or on the weave. He sets himself for a good pass, squares his feet and he’s almost ready to shoot before he even gets the ball. Then when he rises up at 6′ 9″, his long arms make his jumper nearly incontestable. The best part is that he rarely forces the game, it just seems to flow through him.
As Pritchard and Richardson get used to where King wants the ball on offense, the lane will open up for Wooten and the mid-range game will free up for Bol. King doesn’t need the ball in his hands to help everyone else. In under 17 minutes he scored 11 points, hit three three-pointers and shot 4 for 6 … and the guy hasn’t played in nearly a year.
The player who benefited the most in King’s first game might have been Kenny Wooten. Freed from having to battle two big men underneath, Wooten scored a career-high 20, grabbed five rebounds and manhandled opponents on the block. Bol’s 18 points came as they usually do, on a variety of shots all over the court. He added 10 boards as well.
Oregon has two legitimate NBA prospects in Bol and King, and their styles complement each other well. Oregon’s ability to defend the three and rebound will determine their ceiling this year. They have to be aggressive defensively at the three-point line and rely on all the big men and length to contest at the rim. Don’t let shooters get set and have clean looks at 3’s. Make them put it on the floor, drive, and deal with Wooten, Bol, King or Francis Okoro at the rim. Few college players consistently make the pull-up mid-range jumper. Oregon needs to take advantage of that.
Oregon started Richardson instead of Paul White on Saturday night. Richardson responded with a decent floor game. White played just 14 minutes, but looked comfortable leading the second unit. His six points came on 2-2 shooting behind the arc, and he added two rebounds and two assists.
At 5-3 right now, Oregon still isn’t playing like a Top 20 team. But if King continues to grow along with the rest of this young squad, I still say they’re going to win 22 or 23 games and be a 5- to 7-seed in the NCAA tournament.
There’s new evidence that streak shooter VJ Bailey may have caught fire. Like most young players, he shoots a lot better at home, so we can’t be sure. But his 16 points came on 5 of 6 three-point shooting as he ran hard to give Richardson and Pritchard easy ways to get it to him. You know that Coach Altman loved his six assists, zero turnovers and six rebounds in just 20 minutes of work.
It was a great night for Bailey. He’s going to play 20 minutes a night even when conference play starts, so they need his energy.
One of the next evolutions for this team is to get the fast break going. They have five guys who run the court well, three guys who can lead the break, and all five finish at the rim. Watch for them to start running more.
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Top Photo Credit: Eugene Johnson
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester Tennessee.
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