Next in our summer cavalcade of celebrities we present Mr. Tom Ziller, who was kind enough to be the latest participant in ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series. Tom is the curator of Sactown Royalty, without question the best Sacramento Kings blog on the internet. In fact, Sactown has developed into a full-fledged online Kings community chock full of reader participation and active fan forums. If you’re looking for the latest discussion of all things Kings, SR your destination.
The questions here focus on Mr. Ziller’s beloved Kings as we cover the roster from top to bottom. However, at this point the masses may be more familiar with Tom’s work over at AOL’s FanHouse. He’s a regular contributor to the site and one of our favorite NBA scribes – be sure to check out his work over there as well, you’ll learn something.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tom Ziller.
Empty the Bench: The big men are almost as muddled with Brad Miller, Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mikki Moore, Sheldon Williams, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes. Clear up some of this mess, who’s a keeper, who needs to go and what sort of rotation do you want to see this year?
Tom Ziller: Thompson and Hawes are definitely keepers for now. Hawes showed quite a bit late last season. Shelden Williams hasn’t won the hearts and minds of Sacramento’s decision makers – and he skipped out of a summer league game for the ESPYs. Everyone in Sacramento (including Kenny Thomas) prays Kenny Thomas will get traded two weeks ago. Shareef has discussed potentially retiring this summer due to knee issues. Miller is tradeable, but seen as a decent mentor (on the court) for Hawes. Moore is also tradeable, but offers some athleticism in the frontcourt that only Thompson can match.
I’d love to see one of Moore and Miller get traded and watch the remainder mix with Hawes, Thompson, and some Williams in the rotation this year.
ETB: You look at Kevin Martin’s stats and say, “Wow.” Then you watch him play and come away even more impressed. Why doesn’t this guy get national attention? And what is the ceiling for Kevin, can he be a franchise player?
Ziller: His name is Kevin Martin, which is really bland for a superstar two-guard. And he lives in Sacramento. That sums it up, really. It happened to Mitch Richmond, too. Martin is the franchise player right now – he’s only 25, he can drop 40 any given night, and he’s one of the league’s most efficient shooters. He needs a lot of help, but Martin’s a brilliant selection as a cornerstone.
Mr. Ziller talks Ron Artest, Beno Udrih, AOL FanHouse and Christie Brinkley after the jump…
ETB: Talk about some of the differences in writing for Sactown Royalty and AOL’s Fanhouse. Do you have to consciously keep your biases in check? Change your tone or type of analysis?
Ziller: I never keep my biases in check; it’s not possible. I try to avoid writing about the Kings on FanHouse, but I somehow manage to sneak them into other storylines pretty frequently. But yes, the tone and style of analysis is a bit different. On StR, I feel more like I’m writing for my friends. I take a slightly more serious tact on FanHouse, more succinct and direct. Rambling rants about Brian Skinner don’t sell ads.
ETB: From the outside looking in Ron Artest is a complete enigma. After 2+ years with the Kings can you provide any insight into the psychology of Ron Ron? What makes this guy do and say the ridiculous things he does and says?
Ziller: You could spend 2,000 years following Ron Artest and you still wouldn’t have any insight into his mind.
ETB: Beno Udrih was a revelation last year (14.4 points, 5.0 assists, 47.5% FGs as a starter) after Kevin McHale giftwrapped him for Sacramento. What skills and weaknesses does this guy bring to the table? Are you convinced he’s a long-term starting point in this league?
Ziller: He is capable as a starting point guard – he’s not an All-Star or anything, but he’s no worse than 10 or 15 others out there. He has a really solid jumper, and while he’s not a speed demon he gets to the rim well. He has some problems finishing, despite being a lefty, but he has shown good judgment in pulling up or dishing off. I think he’ll get better as he gets more comfortable in his role alongside Martin.
I hope his defense improves. His lateral quickness is almost atrocious.
Beno Udrih Photo Credit: Icon SMI
ETB: Do you find it a little maddening that Geoff Petrie can’t seem to decide if he’s in win-now mode or rebuilding mode? Or does his approach work for you?
Ziller: The team was really entertaining last season, so it’s hard to get mad about the slow rebuild. I’d rather watch a 38-win team with a few dozen close, exciting games than, say, the Grizzlies. Maybe I’ll be upset if the 2009-10 season comes and the team’s no closer to cleaning up the salary mess.
ETB: We’re trying to get a lot of opinions on this: Who is the most underrated player in the NBA today? Feel free to mention any others that come to mind.
Ziller: I’d say Josh Childress, but … well. I don’t think Amare gets nearly enough daps for his absurd output. Almost everyone forgets to mention that he’s a free agent in 2010 as well. Kevin Martin deserves a bucket of votes here. (See! My biases never sleep!) Chauncey Billups, Luol Deng, and Marcin Gortat.
ETB: What’s the state of the Pacific Division? Are the Suns, Warriors and Clippers serious obstacles or is it all about catching up with those Lakers in a few years?
Ziller: Really, it’s all about getting our house in order. If the Kings suck in three years, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the Warriors are. We’d love to see the Kings whoop the Warriors, Clippers, and the Lakers four times a year, and no one would rather see Kobe and Pau get into a slap fight than I, but again: we know our team needs to get better before we plot out our path to the top of the division.
ETB: Let’s do some word association:
a) Christie : Brinkley
b) Adelman : Musselman (: vomit)
c) 2002 : Fixed!
d) Gerald Wallace : DUNK
e) Snake Eggs : Organic Cookies
Recommended Reading at Sactown Royalty/FanHouse:
– Faux Ron-manticism
– Biggest Bust of the ’00s: Honorable Mentions
– The Political Defanging of Team USA
– Miller-to-the-Bulls Trades That Work For Me
– The Society for the Protection of the Apostrophe and Superfluous Vowel in the Birthname of Donte’ Greene
More ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series:
– J.E. Skeets of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie
– David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout
– Ron Hitley of Hornets 24/7
– Ryne “Odenized” Nelson of SLAMonline
– Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and FanHouse
– Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops
– Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge
– Kurt of Forum Blue and Gold
– Brian Powell of Awful Announcing
– Lee Grammier of The Dream Shake
– Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead
– Scott Carefoot of Raptor Blog
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 1
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 2
– Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse and Detroit Bad Boys
– Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed.com