Sacramento Kings’ offense struggling to finish around basket

For a team loaded with offensive weapons, the Sacramento Kings have struggled to put the ball in the hoop early in this new season.  Currently the Kings are ranked 28th in points per game, averaging just 88.3 points per contest.  Only the Washington Wizards (85 PPG) and Philadelphia 76ers (84 PPG) have had more difficulty scoring than the Kings so far this season.

A major problem for the Kings’ offense has been their inability to score in the painted area.  Their field-goal percentage around the rim has declined in each of the three games they’ve played this season.

Graph of the Sacramento Kings' declining shooting percentage around the basket.

Against the Chicago Bulls, they shot 53.7 percent around the basket.  That dropped to 43.2 percent versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.  The Kings then hit bottom at 40.9 percent against the Indiana Pacers.  The league shooting average around the rim is currently 56.5 percent.

Common sense suggests that the closer you are to the basket, the easier it is to score.  That hasn’t been the case for Sacramento through their first three games.  Among the NBA’s 30 teams, the Kings are ranked 25th in field-goal percentage less than five feet from the hoop.  They’re also ranked 27th in shooting percentage five to nine feet away from the basket.

The Kings biggest offenders in close scoring proximity have been their two best players.  DeMarcus Cousins has made just 13 of his 30 shots near the hoop for an unproductive 43.3 percent.  Tyreke Evans, who’s typically one of the Kings’ best finishers, has been lackluster as well.  Evans has made just 13 of 28 shots to shoot just 46.4 percent around the basket.

If the Kings are to change their fortunes tonight against the Golden State Warriors, converting their high-percentage shots is a start.  Shooting 10.8 percent below the league average around the rim isn’t going to cut it for a team looking to show progress from last year.

Chart of the Sacramento Kings' shooting performance through three games (Courtesy of NBA.com)

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.