The Reason for the Kings Defensive Turnaround
Defensive and offensive efficiency haven’t been the strong suits for the Kings this year. And when neither side of the floor is something you excel in, you sort of have to trick opponents or catch them off guard to win games.
That’s essentially what happened early on in the season. The Kings would push the tempo, hit the offensive glass and pray Tyreke Evans or someone else stepped up at the end of a close game to pull them through to victory. It worked about half the time until the rest of the league caught on that the Kings weren’t going to score in the post and they needed Tyreke Evans to drive in order to create their offense. Opponents started packing in the lane against Tyreke Evans, the shots became harder and harder to get for the entire team and the post option on offense was a myth, much like dry land in Water World.
When Kevin Martin returned to injury, he didn’t come back as Tim Duncan. Since his healthy wrist didn’t turn him into one of the most prolific low post scorers of all-time, the Kings STILL didn’t have the inside option to balance out the attack. The Kings kept falling and falling. They were looking less like a team of the future and more like the 17-win debacle of the 2008-2009 season. And that’s where the problems started.
When the team isn’t winning and the return of their most efficient perimeter scorer doesn’t give them a much-needed Kevin McHale clone down low, they start to turn on everybody. They turn on the fans, their teammates and even the coach. Frustration rules all and it affects the play on the court. When Kevin Martin was traded for Carl Landry, the Kings finally seemed to have a low post scorer and yet, the tension on the team still existed.
The Kings players complained about their roles and their playing time. With Spencer Hawes already having a couple of minor-but-building run-ins with the coach, all hell broke loose when he ended up being one of the guys in the paper discussing the frustrations with the current player rotation situation.
Then Westphal decided to show Spencer who is boss by not letting him suit up for the home game against the Detroit Pistons, followed by some moron making an animated video with a satirical viewpoint of the whole situation. Next thing you know, World War III was going on within Arco Arena and it looked to be the low point of the season.
What happened next was the ultimate example of two foes squashing beef with each other (basically the opposite of what Tupac and Biggie did). They put their differences aside and bumped chests.
Since this display of Sacramento-style Ubuntu, the Kings have seemingly righted the ship. They’ve played .500-ball with a 4-4 record and their offensive and defensive efficiency ratings have improved drastically.
The Kings offensive boost is not really THAT big of a surprise. They added a low post threat (that they had been missing all season) and it balanced out the offense. Not only was the addition of Carl Landry a boost to their offensive schemes but also his ability to score with great efficiency is a big reason for their increased rating on offense.
(For those who don’t know, offensive rating is the amount of points scored over 100 possessions. With the fact that not every team plays at the same pace, it’s the best way to show just how efficient an offense is. The Warriors may lead the league in points per game because they play at the fastest pace but they’re only the 14th most efficient offensive team in the NBA.)
Before the chest bump, the Kings had an offensive rating of 105.6 (currently 20th in the NBA). After the act of brotherhood between Coach and Spencer, they’ve improved to 108.1 (would be good for 13th in the league now). But again, this doesn’t really shock me with the addition of Carl Landry coming around the same time. He’s added a valuable weapon to their team arsenal.
The real shocking improvement has been the increased effort and performance on defense by the Kings. Check out this chart that I poorly attempted to Ziller-fy:
This chart shows the defensive efficiency for the entire year. The Kings have had some very strong performances in terms of defensive efficiency and had many more poor performances in that category throughout the entire season. But since the mythical chest bump, the Kings are performing at a much higher rate of defensive efficiency than most of us could have imagined.
From the start of the season up until the moment Spencer and Coach Westphal touched chests, the Kings had been pretty horrific in terms of defensive rating. In the first 57 games of the season, they garnered a defensive rating of 110.5 (27th). But in the eight games since the bump, the Kings have improved to a defensive rating of 107.0 (would be good for 15th).
Don’t forget, it’s not exactly like they added Dennis Rodman or Hakeem Olajuwon to their defense. All they did was subtract a sub-par-but-making-strides perimeter defender in Kevin Martin and add a middle-of-the-road post defender who doesn’t rebound in a truly spectacular fashion.
So what could be the reason for this turn around?
It’s clearly the unbridled positive power of the chest bump. The chest bump is proving to be a cure-all for what ails you. Perhaps if the Clippers had a chest bump between owner Donald Sterling and Mike Dunleavy, MD, Sr. would still have a job in the front office. Maybe if the guys in Reservoir Dogs had chest bumped each other before the job, nobody would have had to lose an ear or their lives.
The chest bump is something that can make a difference in your daily life and in the success of your career and personal goals. Don’t have anybody to chest bump to make your life better? Bump the mirror.
Special things can be done when you properly wield the power of the chest bump. If it can work for the Kings defense, it can work for anybody.