The Sacramento Kings have a turnover epidemic
While cases of measles have grabbed the nation’s attention, an alarming outbreak in Northern California has gone under the radar.
Since the beginning of the NBA season, the Sacramento Kings have suffered a rash of turnovers, and without treatment, an already dire situation may get completely out of hand.
46 games in, the Kings rank 27th in the league with 15.7 turnovers per game. Sacramento’s turnover rate increased with each passing month, as well as the points allowed off the miscues. The sloppy play has frustrated everyone within the organization, but solutions have been unclear. Isolations, over-dribbling, carelessness and lack of offensive movement have all played a hand.
If only folks had reacted to the symptoms sooner. In the very first game, the Kings handed the ball over 27 in a 95-77 loss to the Warriors, which remains their season-high.
Former head coach Michael Malone tried his best to remedy the situation with sprints after practice, and produced mixed results, including a season-low nine-turnover performance against the Spurs two weeks later. But the team failed to find any consistency, which did him no favors when fired on December 14.
Since Tyrone Corbin took over, the ex-Jazz coach has increased the tempo of the offense, and conversely the Kings have worsened their average to 16.5 turnovers a match. They’ve also surrendered 19.3 points off turnovers a game, which is 29th in the NBA.
Sacramento endured an eight-game losing streak until Saturday, when they limited their turnovers to 14 against the Pacers. During the recent slide, the Kings averaged 18 turnovers a contest.
As the losses mount, fans have directed their ire at Corbin. To be fair, the coaching staff can put its roster in a better position to succeed, but ultimately the blame rests on the players.
And the Kings’ No. 1 culprit is none other than its super star, DeMarcus Cousins. The first-time All-Star is tied with 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams for the league lead in most turnovers per game, with a sickening 4.3. Cousins has been prone to losing the ball when trapped in double-teams, but with the uptick in pace, the center has been regularly spotted pushing the break in wild fashion.
Coaches have worked tirelessly to correct the issue, and Cousins often acknowledges responsibility in the locker room, but nothing has changed.
“Slow down just a tad,” Corbin explained to the media of his advice to Cousins. “Look before you throw it. He’s such a good passer, and teams are coming to double-team him, so we have to make sure he keeps his balance. He’s getting off-balance some. And then he can put the ball on the floor, but he got to know his surroundings a little bit, because of the crowding. They’re sending two guys at him so we have to do a better job of helping him out and also him not putting the ball on the floor in those situations.”
In addition to Cousins, Rudy Gay and Darren Collison both place among the league’s top 30 turnover producers. But when considering floor time, the turnover percentage statistic paints a sharper picture.
For every 100 possessions, reserves Ryan Hollins, Reggie Evans and Ramon Sessions have lost more turnovers than Cousins, and frontcourt partner Jason Thompson sits right behind him. Even more surprising, the King who takes care of the ball the best is Derrick Williams, his shooting inefficiencies be damned.
Regardless of whose fault, it’s a clear and inconvenient truth that turnovers have helped derail the Kings’ once-hopeful season. Sacramento averages three more turnovers in their losses than wins, and the consequence of scrambling back to defend has resulted in a regression on both sides of the court.
The window for vaccinations has long gone. The Kings must find the will within themselves to get over this unremitting plague.