After a disappointing start, the Sacramento Kings have begun to stabilize thanks to changes to their starters. With the additions of Aaron Brooks and John Salmons, their defense has stayed the course while the offense has finally caught up. At Sactown Royalty, our friend Tom Ziller broke down the plus/minus numbers of the Kings’ new starting five and found some positive results.
The Kings are 2-2 with this starting lineup, and that five-man unit has been Sacramento’s best by no small margin. The unit — Salmons, Brooks, Evans, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins — is +31 in 68 minutes,per NBA.com. The next best five-man unit — Salmons, Brooks, Travis Outlaw, Jimmer Fredette and Chuck Hayes (?!) — is +10 in six minutes. Clearly, the new starting five is working better than anything else Smart has tossed out there.
Ziller also notes Salmons’ effect on the Kings’ new lineup, pointing out that the veteran small forward leads the Kings in plus/minus at+50 in 192 minutes. I’ll add another startling statistic about Salmons’ contributions this season that I actually tweeted last night. Through four games as a starter, the veteran swingman leads the Kings in offensive rating at 117.6. Paired with a defensive rating of 100.9, Salmons has posted a net rating of 16.7, which tops the Kings in their last four games.
Below is a table breaking down where the Kings have improved statistically since Keith Smart‘s shakeup to his starting five.
Points Per Game
Field Goal %
True Shooting %
Effective Field Goal %
Assists Per Game
As noted above, with the exception of blowout losses to the Lakers, Trail Blazers and Hawks, the Kings defense has remained steady. In their first nine games, they were allowing opponents to score 97.8 points per contest, while limiting them to 44.5 percent from the field. In their last four games, they’ve allowed opponents to score roughly the same amount of points (99.4) and shoot a similar percentage from the floor (44 percent).
Now, for those of you who are visually oriented, here’s a chart comparing the Kings’ shooting performance over their first 13 games. It’s just like the graph on Brooks found in my piece on the Kings’ new backcourt.
The offense has seen massive improvement since the lineup change. They are shooting better from all spots from the floor, with the most dramatic progress happening beyond the arc. In their previous four games, the Kings are shooting 43.9 percent from deep compared to 29.4 percent over their first nine contests.
Can this continue? We’ll see. But it’s in their best interests to right this ship now while the schedule skews home heavy.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.