Statistics and Perspective for the (3-5) Sacramento Kings
As it stands right now, on the night of November 6th, 2016, the Sacramento Kings have a record of 3-5.
If we’re being honest, it’s really hard to get a good grasp of what a team really is when the season isn’t even 10 percent over. It’s the same as evaluating an NFL team a little after halftime of the second game of the season or projecting a team after game 16 of the MLB season. You can see some good indicators but things are going to change.
One example of this could be that those Miami Heat teams of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010 went 9-8 in their first year and that “Super Team” of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol got off to a 17-25 start before making the playoffs. Sometimes you need time before you can get an adequate read of a team.
With that being said, you knew the Kings would struggle early this year. Last year’s starting point guard (Rajon Rondo) went to Chicago, the backup (Darren Collison) is suspended for the first eight games of the year and the starting small forward (Rudy Gay) publicly requested a trade before the year began.
Coach Dave Joerger was dealt a terrible hand to start the year and had to find a way to make the best of it.
We’ll start off with the positives because nobody wants to be sad right off the bat.
Ty Lawson looks like a guy that, at worst, could split time with Collison and give the team a stable core at the point guard position. Lawson’s 1.29 steals per game is more than DeMar DeRozan and Carmelo Anthony and his assists per game (6.6) is the same as Stephen Curry and more than Damian Lillard.
Am I saying that Lawson is as good as the people I mentioned? No, but he’s far and away better than what he was last year and that has to be a nod to the coach. Joerger helped groom Mike Conley into an upper level point guard in the NBA and he’s been able to take a talented player like Lawson and try to get him back to something similar to what he was a few years ago. DeMarcus Cousins probably said it best in his NSFW video.
Speaking of Cousins, he’s still doing All-Star things with 25.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Also, and maybe most importantly, he’s shooting 50 percent from the floor and averaging only three turnovers per game. Except for the ‘13-14 season, Cousins never shot higher than 46.7 percent from the floor and his three turnovers is the smallest amount of turnovers since the ‘12-13 season.
Mix in the fact that Ben McLemore is shooting the highest field goal percentage of his career and Matt Barnes and Garrett Temple seem to be a nice fill in players off of the bench and you have signs of life to be optimistic about.
However, the team is 3-5 and they’re that for a reason. If you look at the stats of the team defensively you can see why. As a team they rank 26th in opponent field goal percentage at 46.3 percent. In opponent 3-point field goal percentage they again rank 26th at 36.5 percent.
It gets worse when you see that the Kings only shoot 44.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the 3-point line. It’s pretty impossible to win games when the opponent has a better shooting percentage than you do.
Diving into the stats a little bit further you see that the Kings are 21st in opponents assists per game with 23.1 and they’re tied for 26th in opponents blocks per game with 6.4.
Do you want to know what the Kings average in assists and blocks per game? They average 21.7 assists and 3.4 blocks per game. Again, it’s hard to win when the other team does things better than you do.
Now, on the bright side they’re better than they were last year when it comes to opponents points per game where they rank 17th (102.9) compared to last year when they ranked dead last (109.1).
Again, even though the stats don’t look pretty it’s very early. In Joerger’s first season as head coach of the Grizzlies, he started off 3-5 and last year the Grizzlies got off to a 3-6 start. Let this breath before you grab you’re pitchforks and get mad. After all, in every game except for the last one against the Bucks, the Kings have been competitive.
In the season opener, the Kings beat the Phoenix Suns 113-94. That’s a good way to start off the year.
In the home opener against the San Antonio Spurs they lost 102-94 but were down only five points with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter. There’s no real shame in losing to that team.
Then, two days later, you beat the Minnesota Timberwolves at home 106-103 for your first home victory.
In Atlanta, you were down by two points to the Hawks with 6:35 to go in the fourth quarter.
Against the Miami Heat you went to overtime after a miss by Rudy Gay to win the game at the buzzer.
In Orlando you were down by two with 4:48 to go in the fourth quarter before losing to the Magic after losing offensive rebound after offensive rebound after offensive rebound to them.
In Saturday’s game against Milwaukee they metaphorically pooped the bed. They were down at the half by 13 and the lead never got below 12 before losing 117-91. This is what happens when you keep turning over the ball to a good team like Milwaukee.
Then tonight, they beat the best team on this road trip and played great defense by allowing 91 points.
So what do we know?
We know that the team has holes. We know that the team that is currently constructed probably won’t be the team that starts the season next year, but as long as they can continue to stay in games until the end of the fourth quarter, then that’s a decent start and fans will appreciate that.
Joerger is a defensive guy and you should probably expect the numbers to get better as the season progresses, along with the wins.