The struggles for the Sacramento Kings have been apparent all season long and it looks like coach Michael Malone is fed up with what his team has been showing on a nightly basis. After the Kings gave up a total of 39 points in the fourth quarter against the Pelicans on Monday, coach Malone made his opinions heard.
“They might be used to losing, but I’m not. I’m use to winning and playing in the playoffs.”
those words by coach Malone showed the complete frustration Malone has gone through this entire season and for a defensive-minded coach, having a bad defensive team is not what he wants.
Malone would even go on by saying they may need to get new guys in that is going to want to give the effort on both ends of the floor. The Kings defensive problems have been a flaw of theirs for a few years now. The changing of a new mindset and philosophy takes a ton of work and a change like that cannot happen overnight.
Now with that being said the Kings players at some point need to start looking at themselves in the mirror and taking the blame. The effort on the defensive end of the court is close to pathetic, having teams score nearly 100 points a game, blowing leads, and countless times giving up easy buckets down the lane for easy layups. DeMarcus Cousins seconded the words of his coach by saying that “guys need to stop making excuses and guard their [explicit] man.”
There could be a case made that the Kings struggles are due to the fact that–since the Rudy Gay trade–the team has only one practice to really build chemistry with their new teammates. That would be a valid argument but if you really look at it from that perspective, than you also cannot deny that defense is all about effort. Lets be honest, you don’t need to have chemistry to stay in front of your man and not leaving them for a wide open shot or calling out screens and when you need to switch.
If you want to blame chemistry, you have to look at the offensive side of the ball and take notice that the team is actually scoring at a good rate. One big key is the team has become less selfish and the ball seems to be moving. So if that is the case and knowing that offensively is where most the chemistry is needed what is wrong with the defense?
It really is all about the effort from the entire team and giving that effort for an entire 48 minutes. For the Kings to become a better team they are going to have to take these two big tips I am going to give and go above and beyond if they want to excel in this league and start changing this Sacramento franchise around.
BECOME VOCAL-The Kings need to be vocal with each other. The Kings have a problem of getting tunnel vision and really just zoning in on their own task and not looking for team help or just optimizing each other’s presence on the floor.
A great example would be when Jimmer Fredette is clearly guarding a point guard that is completely faster and shows more strength than him. A man like Aaron Gray–who’s main spot defensively is down on the low block–needs to read the situation and show Jimmer’s man, that he (Aaron Gray) is down low waiting for him.
STOP PENETRATION-This has been a complete killer for the Kings and in a result have ended up in the team giving up an ungodly amount of points off of drives to the basket, whether it’s a drive and kick or just an easy layup. The Kings need to become more of a unit on the defensive side of the ball and open their eyes to their surroundings.
On Monday that weakness of not being able to stop the basketball was on full display when former King Tyreke Evans returned to Sacramento and “’Reked” havoc on the Kings and their lackluster defensive effort. The players on the Kings– like Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton–should know that Tyreke Evans is a player that is a finisher at the rim and is not a very good shooter.
I am not saying that the team can stop Evans completely, but to know that Tyreke’s biggest flaw is his jump shot and knowing that when he gets the ball, he will look to drive you to the basket; the team still couldn’t slow him. Tyreke finished the game with 25 points and 12 assists, completely off easy layups as well as drive and kicks.
The truth of the nature of the situation is this, Michael Malone took over a young team full of bad defenders–that’s it, plain and simple. When you have a group of bad defenders for a team you are going to get bad defense. The true challenge that Malone will need to go through is being able to hold his ground and keep pushing that mentality and philosophy, that the team is going to be a defensive team first.
There is a strong chance that this team will be having more changes on the way, with the trade deadline quickly approaching and the need for players that can help express and show the type of play that Coach Malone is looking for out of his players. Until then, Malone and the rest of his coaching staff need to keep strong and not let go of his defense first mindset and express his urgency for effort on both ends of the floor.
The Kings take on the Miami Heat one last time this season, at Sleep Train Arena on Friday, Dec. 27. The team had a rough time in Miami just four days ago and hopefully being in front of the home crowd will help keep the intensity up and give just enough of an edge to get a win.