Afflalo is key to Sacramento’s success

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Make no mistake about it — defense will be the key to success for the Sacramento Kings this season. But you still have to score points to win.

Although he is capable of it, Sacramento cannot simply rely on DeMarcus Cousins to score half the team’s points every single night. Every team knows that the big man will be the number one option on offense, which means Cousins is going to need some help.


With so many distractions surrounding Rudy Gay, his scoring and overall play may plummet, which raises this question: Who will become that #2 option the Kings badly need? Barring injury, Arron Afflalo will be the key to success for the Kings on the offensive end this season.

Sure the Kings roster is loaded with decent players that can put up points when they need to, but many believe that there is really no definitive second option.

Wrong. Afflalo is that option. He has to be. For the first time in a long time, the Sacramento Kings have a competent scoring shooting guard that can actually play defense.

While it’s not the best measuring stick for regular season performance, Afflalo’s preseason results have been beyond encouraging.

He has stepped up in a way that we haven’t seen in both Denver and New York. The guy just gets it. His basketball IQ is through the roof and his movement off the ball is sensational. Most encouraging of all, his communication has a very clear and positive effect on both sides of the ball.


Scoring wise, Afflalo has averaged double digits in scoring for each of his last eight seasons. Expect that to continue and then some. His best scoring season came during the 2013-2014 campaign, when he averaged 18.2 points per game.

Similar to this season, he was expected to score significantly more with that Magic lineup than he was with Portland in 2014 and New York in 2015. Therefore, expect Afflalo to work his scoring totals back to around the 17 or 18 points per game, simply because he will be taking more shots and will be more involved in the Sacramento offense.

Many consider Afflalo’s age, 31, as a hindrance to his ability to play large amounts of minutes. It’s a legitimate concern. However, Afflalo’s ability to play off the ball effectively and get himself in the right spots to score, all while maintaining a steady pace, should play a big part in how much time he is able to spend on the floor.

Where he lacks quickness he makes up for in IQ. The 11-year veteran has averaged over 30 minutes a game in all but three seasons (his first three). Age may make those 40 and up minute performances more of a challenge, but there is no need to worry. The “old dog” still knows plenty of tricks.

Expectations

Here’s what you want from Afflalo; consistency. I expect him to average 17 points per game on 46 percent shooting, 42 percent from beyond 3-point range, two assists, three rebounds, and a +9 scoring differential over his opponent.

Plus all the little things he does so well that aren’t recorded on a stat sheet. Not unrealistic and very probable for a player of Afflalo’s caliber. If the Kings get this kind of production out of their shooting guard position, they will be in the 40 win conversation.


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Matt George
Producer & Board Op: CBS Sports 1140 KHTK's The Drive 6am - 9am. Host of the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast.

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