Okay, so the Kings are in their fourth straight four-game streak and after jumping out to a 9-8 record (the Kings haven’t started with an above .500 record that deep into the season since 2004) they’ve fallen to 9-12 with their current four-game losing streak.
Here are the numbers for this current four-game slide:
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And here are the numbers for the advanced stats during this slide:
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So what seems to be the issue here, officer?
Well for one, the defense hasn’t been too great. In fact, if you put their 116.8 defensive efficiency during this stretch and put it against the season’s stats for all teams, it’s worse than the league’s worst defensive team (the Raptors and their stunning 116.0 defensive rating). Not to mention, their opponents’ efficient field goal percentage of 56.8% is definitely worse than the Warriors’ league worst 53.5%.
But I’m going to say the defense isn’t the biggest problem. Even though the defense is ATROCIOUS right now, I’m going to put the onus on the free throw shooting of the Kings.
While their free throw rate over the past two games has been utterly pathetic (11.1% and 9.1%, respectively), their overall free throw shooting during this four-game slide has been almost as embarrassing. Now, it’s unrealistic to expect a team to shoot 100% from the free throw line. But 60% over their past four games is flat-out detrimental to a team’s chances for winning.
In the eight-point loss to Phoenix, they missed nine free throws. Let’s say they make six or seven of those nine missed free throws. Then they’ve got a better shot at making it a game. In the 13-point loss to Miami, they missed 12 free throws. In the two-point loss to New Orleans, they missed 10 free throws and ONLY attempted 19 for the game. In the 12-point loss to the Spurs, they missed seven free throws but shot just 15 as a team.
So when they get to the line in these losses, they’re not making them. When they don’t get to the line nearly as often, they’re STILL MISSING THEM. Free throw shooting is the easiest way to get points in the NBA unless you’re Ray Allen shooting a three-pointer. At a certain point, it becomes all about concentration to make them. This young Kings team may be showing signs of immaturity by 1) not getting to the free throw line an acceptable amount of times and 2) not concentrating enough to make them when they do.
This is a good shooting team but they can’t fall in love with the jumper. They have to continue to be aggressive and find the easiest way to score points. Otherwise, we’re probably going to see more four-game losing streaks than four-game winning streaks the rest of the season.