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John Schuhmann

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The Kings are banking on the duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans for the future.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

StatsCube: Can Evans, Cousins be cornerstones for Kings?


Posted Dec 2 2011 7:02AM

To get ready for the 2011-12 season, NBA.com StatsCube breaks down the critical numbers for all 30 teams.

It's been five years since the Sacramento Kings made the playoffs and only one team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, has won fewer games than the Kings in that time. Three straight ugly seasons have given the Kings the opportunity to rebuild through the Draft, and they seemed to land a gem by selecting Tyreke Evans with the fourth pick in 2009.

But after winning the Rookie of the Year two seasons ago, Evans dealt with plantar fasciitis last season, and the Kings remained near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Now, if Evans is healthy and was able to improve his shooting in the extended offseason, the Kings may be ready to take a step forward.

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2010-11 Basics
Record:
24-58
Pace: 97.8 (4)
OffRtg: 100.6 (26)
DefRtg: 106.3 (20)
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

Scoring almost four points per 100 possessions fewer than the league average, 2010-11 was the Kings' worst offensive season in the last 20 years. They ranked in the bottom five in turnover rate, 3-point percentage, mid-range shooting percentage and free throw percentage.

Defensively, the Kings have improved in each of coach Paul Westphal's two seasons on the bench, though they had nowhere to go but up after ranking dead last in defensive efficiency in 2008-09 under Reggie Theus and Kenny Natt.

The one thing the Kings did do well was rebound. They were the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the league and ranked 13th in defensive rebounding percentage. They had five guys -- Samuel Dalembert (12.4 percent), DeMarcus Cousins (10.5), Darnell Jackson (10.3), Carl Landry (10.0) and Jason Thompson (9.4) -- who grabbed at least nine percent of available offensive boards when they were in the game.

But the Kings' tendency to go after offensive boards may have hurt them on the other end of the floor. They had the third-worst transition defense in the league when you divide opponents' fast-break points by opponents' steals.

Most fast break points allowed per opponent steal
Team OppFBPs OppSTL Ratio
Golden State 1,584 672 2.36
Detroit 1,289 568 2.27
Sacramento 1,460 666 2.19
Toronto 1,369 625 2.19
Washington 1,364 624 2.19

The good news is that if the Kings just do a better job of getting back on defense, they can improve again on that end of the floor.

Young guns need to find their stroke

To improve offensively, the Kings will need their inside-outside pair of top-five draft picks to shoot better. Of the 50 players with the highest usage rates last season, Cousins and Evans were two of the four least efficient scorers.

Lowest true shooting percentage among top 50 in usage rate
Player MIN Usage Rate Rank FGM FGA FG% eFG% TS%
Jordan Crawford 1027 25.1% 19 192 500 38.4% 41.7% 45.6%
Gilbert Arenas 1796 23.6% 40 269 734 36.6% 43.3% 47.1%
Tyreke Evans 2107 24.9% 22 382 933 40.9% 43.3% 48.2%
DeMarcus Cousins 2309 25.5% 14 432 1004 43.0% 43.2% 48.4%
Aaron Brooks 1284 25.1% 20 220 587 37.5% 43.4% 48.9%
Minimum 750 minutes played
TS% = Points / (2*(FGA+(0.44*FTA)))

Cousins is a 6-foot-11 behemoth and few guards get to the rim as well as Evans does. It's no surprise that both took most of their shots in the paint. But combined, they shot just 47 percent from there, more than seven percent below the league average.

Both Cousins and Evans shot below the league average from every range: restricted area, other paint shots, mid-range, corner threes and above-the-break threes.

Do Cousins and Evans make a good pair?

Whether or not Cousins and Evans have chemistry is a question that probably can't be answered yet. Each was a more efficient scorer when the other was on the floor, but both did most of their work on their own.

Only 27 percent of Evans' field goals were assisted, the seventh lowest rate in the league among players who attempted at least 500 shots last season. And among players 6-foot-6 or taller, only two other players were assisted on a lower percentage of their field goals than Cousins. Their names? Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Lowest percentage of assisted field goals, 6-foot-6 or taller
Player FGM Assisted FG %AST
Tyreke Evans 382 104 27.2%
LeBron James 758 245 32.3%
Kobe Bryant 740 278 37.6%
DeMarcus Cousins 432 163 37.7%
Brandon Roy 209 81 38.8%
Minimum 500 FGA

Cousins had 231 field goals when Evans was on the floor, with Evans assisting on 49 (21 percent) of them. Evans had 217 field goals when Cousins was on the floor, with Cousins assisting on only 24 (11 percent) of them.

The two didn't assist each other much, but they did share the ball pretty evenly. When they were on the floor together, Cousins and Evans each had a usage rate of 25 percent. Cousins took 513 shots and Evans took 507.

Back in February, there were reports that Cousins was upset about Evans' shot selection down the stretch of close games. But interestingly, Cousins had the higher usage rate (32 percent to 28 percent) when the two were on the floor together in clutch time (last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less).

Will Udrih trade affect Evans?

In a three-team, Draft-day trade, the Kings traded Beno Udrih and the No. 7 pick, acquiring ex-King John Salmons and the No. 10 pick (which they used to take BYU guard Jimmer Fredette) in return. Salmons is another inefficient scorer with a fairly high usage rate.

More importantly, the departure of Udrih seems to make Evans the full-time point guard. Evans played 1,441 (68 percent) of his 2,107 minutes with Udrih last season, and he was more efficient in those minutes. Evans' true shooting percentage was 49.3 percent with Udrih on the floor and 45.8 percent with Udrih on the bench.

But in his rookie season, Evans had a higher true shooting percentage when Udrih was on the bench.

Kings' new big man poses questions

In a deal made just before the lockout began, the Kings sent Omri Casspi to Cleveland in exchange for power forward J.J. Hickson. The deal may allow the Kings to let Dalembert go via free agency, with the ability to play Cousins primarily at center.

Hickson has proven to be a defensive liability. And he was yet another inefficient scorer last season, registering a true shooting percentage of just 50.3 percent. But that was a huge drop-off from a mark of 58.0 percent the previous season, when he played 84 percent of his minutes with James.

So the challenge for Evans is to make both Cousins and Hickson more efficient. Because if the Kings have two big men with true shooting percentages hovering around 50 percent (the league average for players 6-foot-9 and taller was 54.6 percent last season), they'll probably remain a bottom-five offensive team.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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