To Win Games, Sacramento Kings Need More than Just Defense


A lot has been made about the Sacramento Kings‘ horrendous defense since Ty Corbin took over as head coach, but there’s more to the team’s ship sinking at the rate it has been. Whether it be poor outside shooting or giving up the ball, the team’s failures aren’t simply due to lack of defense.

Run-and-gun is probably the most fun offense to watch as a fan, if your team can run it well. But, even with that style of play comes a certain amount of defense, a perimeter presence and an absurdity of athleticism, all of which the Sacramento Kings have yet to prove they possess.

Out of the 16 victories the Kings have on the season, eight of them came when they held their opponent to under 100 points, and three came when holding their competition to 101. In 20 of their 26 losses, Sacramento has given up 100 or more points.

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So what is the recipe for disaster that the Kings are whipping up, you ask?

While the Kings, in large part due to DeMarcus Cousins, are leading the league in free throw attempts (FTA) and are out-rebounding opponents by more than five boards per game, they also are dead last in assists, 29th in three-pointers made and attempted, are 29th in blocks, third worst in steals and fourth worst in turnovers per game.

The turnovers are one of the most notable factors, and if you watch the team play, you’ll notice the turnovers aren’t always because of stellar opponent defense. No, the Kings give up unforced turnovers more than a little bit, and their 1.97/1.64 assist/turnover ratio is about as abysmal as you can have.

Feb 5, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings small forward Rudy Gay (8) reacts to a call during the second quarter of the game against the Toronto Raptors at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

So while their pathetic performance on the defensive end is surely notable, there’s more to it, like the fact that Cousins, while performing like an all star, has to force his skill too much, while taking on double and triple-teams and trying to pass through super tight windows. It’s no secret that teams realize they can collapse on Cousins in the post since the Kings outside shooting is all but non-existent.

According to Basketball Reference, out of the Kings who have attempted more than 10 three-pointers, Rudy Gay boasts the best percentage with 38.2%, Darren Collison is shooting 37.1% and Ben McLemore, who’s attempted the most threes on the team is shooting 35.8%. After that the best percentage on the team is a tie between Ramon Sessions and Derrick Williams at 28.6%.

Cousins is not the typical big man by any means when it comes to athleticism, astounding most fans with his footwork and ball control. But if you’re looking at the beginning of the fire-at-will offense transition, it made little to no sense to have it implemented as Cousins was returning from missing 10 games because of viral meningitis.

Even now, weeks after he’s returned, you can still see him not fully running down the court, and some of it is indeed due to effort, but I’d say most is due to him not having his wind up to where he needs to be to be an integral part of an offense like that. He’s more suited for the low-post half-court offense and why wouldn’t you make your offense run around your superstar and his particular talents?

It seems to be too-little, too-late for the Kings this year, but if you’re already looking ahead you have to be wondering, with the talent this team has, what is it going to take to allow the roster to reach their potential? I don’t want to be the first person to cry wolf and start the “fire” talks up regarding certain front office staff, but if this team can’t click then something’s clearly off.

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