Should Temple become the permanent starter at the shooting guard position?

Right now, on December 16th the Sacramento Kings are 9-16 and are 10th in the Western Conference standings. They stand only two and a half games behind the eight-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.

With a little bit under a third of the season gone, there’s still time to adjust certain things to improve the team. For the Kings, one thing they could do is to insert Garrett Temple into the starting rotation permanently.

Now, you may see this as a small move. It is, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t help. It doesn’t have to be a drastic move, just something that nets a positive result. Sure, people like DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay all affect the game on a much higher level.

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Those two guys account for over 45 percent of the teams points. Offense isn’t necessarily the problem with the team, but maybe the defense is and Temple can bring that from off of the bench or as a starter.

Right now the Kings average 34.0 points per game from the bench. That ranks 19th in the league and their 3-point percentage is only 33.6 percent, ranking 17th. This tells you that the team is a slightly below average bench team offensively and adding someone like Arron Afflalo (who Temple would replace) can help bring much needed offense to the bench. The video below isn’t even a year old.

Last year, Afflalo averaged 12.8 points and shot 38.2 percent from behind the arc. Yes, he’s struggling this year but considering that nobody else is averaging over seven points a game on the bench he’d be the main guy to run the second-team. Mix in the fact that Afflalo has come off of the bench 25 times over the last three seasons, it wouldn’t be the ego killer it might seem. Here are three things that help Temple’s case over Afflalo. We’ll call it round one, two and three.

Round one

As mentioned before, defense is one of the main reasons to insert Temple into the starting lineup. So, how does he rank in certain defensive categories? If you go to NBA.com it says that Temple holds his defenders to 45.5 percent from the field. That’s better than both Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler. Now, is Temple better? No, but it’s a nice feather in the cap of Temple.

In that same statistical category Afflalo holds his defenders to 46.5 percent from the field. Small win for Temple in round one.

Round two

Secondly, if you look at the most basic of defensive stats it says that Temple averages 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. Afflalo, on the other hand, averages 0.3 steals and 0.0 blocks. Afflalo has one block on the year and seven steals. Steals and blocks aren’t really Afflalo’s thing. Round two goes to Temple.

Round three

Right, so here come the nerd stats. In the NBA there’s something called real plus minus. It’s a very in-depth and complicated formula but at it’s most basic level it tells you (both offensively and defensively) how a player is doing when he’s on the floor. If a player’s rating is high, he’s doing well and vice versa. You want the number to be high.

The problem with this stat for both Afflalo and Temple is that both of their numbers are low. They’re actually in the negative category but Temple’s number is “better.”

Afflalo’s defensive real plus minus is -1.49. On the other side, Temple’s defensive real plus minus is -0.06. Again, not the most ringing of endorsements for either party but it’s another win for Temple. Three straight wins for Temple.

However, did you know that Temple’s numbers are better than Willie Cauley-Stein and Omri Casspi and the same as Matt Barnes? I bet you didn’t know that. The problem with that is that all of those players are on the bench and you can’t fill your bench with guys who only play defense. You need offense and that’s what Afflalo brings.

I do want to mention one last thing that really gives the edge to Temple. Check out this shooting chart below:

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As you can see, Temple is shooting a scorching 57.9 percent from beyond the arc on the right side of the middle three-point line. He has had a successful season from that spot because when he is set in his shooting form, he is deadly. That’s because when he plays with Cousins or Gay, they kick it out to him in that area and he has room to shoot from deep. Those are benefits when playing with two players who demand so much attention from opposing defenses. Both Afflalo and Ben McLemore are shooting below 32 percent overall from beyond the arc.

Is this a full proof plan? No, but it’s an idea stemmed from numbers that could help improve the team, even if only slightly. Offensively, the Kings seem fine with Cousins, Gay and Collison. Adding some defense and solid 42.9 percent overall from beyond the arc with Temple could possibly help the team make a true push for the playoffs since 2006.

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Anthony Bertacchi on Twitter
Anthony Bertacchi
Special Contributor to Cowbell Kingdom and a proud Sacramento State Alum.

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