2017-18 Kia Season Preview
One Team, One Stat -- Sacramento Kings struggle through 11 bad seasons on both ends of the floor
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Sacramento Kings, who have had more than a decade of futility … on both ends of the floor.
The Sacramento Kings have had both a below-average offense and a below-average defense for 11 straight seasons.
No other team has been below-average on either end of the floor in each of the last 11 seasons or on both ends of the floor in more than eight of the last 11. The Kings’ streak of being doubly below average stands alone, and it coincides with an 11-year playoff drought, the fourth longest in NBA history.
The Kings have been close to mediocre offensively a few times, but the best they’ve been on defense over the last 11 years is 1.5 points per 100 possessions worse than the league average. In the 32 seasons they’ve been in Sacramento, they’ve allowed fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average just six times.
The last 11 seasons have yielded a mostly forgettable set of Lottery picks, the first eight of which averaged less than four seasons with the team. The good thing about first-round picks is supposed to be that you have control of them for at least their first five seasons in the league, but chosen to relinquish that control over the guys they have drafted themselves. Success and failure in this league starts at the top.
DeMarcus Cousins was the only one of those picks that rose to the level of All-Star, and he couldn’t lift the team around him. Among active players, only one player has played more regular season games than Cousins (487) without making the playoffs. That player – Omri Casspi – was a Kings first round pick who they traded after two seasons (and then got back three years later).
Kings coaches have had even shorter tenures than their first round picks. There have been eight of them over the last 11 seasons, as the Kings have tried hit the reset button time after time. By trading Cousins in February, the Kings managed to reset without firing their coach.
It’s time for another new start. The Kings’ seven returning players accounted for only 32 percent of the team’s minutes last season, putting the team last in season-to-season continuity as camps opened. They’ve even said goodbye to seven of the 13 guys who played for them after the Cousins trade last season.
Maybe a lack of continuity is a good thing. The new roster includes some young guys with promise and a few veterans with experience. But it’s not clear that the Kings are any closer to being average on one side of the floor or the other.
KINGS NOTES – GENERAL
- Last season was the first time in 22 years (since the 1994-95 season) that the Kings played at a pace slower than the league average.
- Were 8.6 points per 100 possessions better in the second half of games (plus-0.1 – 14th in the league) than they were in the first half (minus-8.5 – 29th). That was the biggest NetRtg increase from half to half. They were one of three teams that got better with each quarter.
- One of four teams that won multiple games after trailing by 20 or more points. They beat Utah on Dec. 21 after trailing by 20 and beat Atlanta on Feb. 10 after trailing by 22.
- They were also one of three teams that lost multiple games after leading by 20 or more. They lost to Indiana on Jan. 18 after leading by 22 and lost to San Antonio on March 8 after leading by 28.
KINGS NOTES – OFFENSE
- Were the No. 1 3-point shooting team after the All-Star break, shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the arc.
- 77.6 percent of their 3-point attempts were catch-and-shoot attempts, the third highest rate in the league.
- According to SportVU, only 39 percent of their ball screens resulted in a shot, drawn foul or turnover from the ball-handler or the screener. That was the second lowest ball-screen usage rate in the league, higher than only that of Miami.
- Took 19 percent of their shots, the fourth highest rate in the league, in the last six seconds of the shot clock. Only Utah, Dallas and Memphis shot more often late in the clock.
- Ranked sixth in the league with 3.24 passes per possession, up from 2.77 (29th) the season before. That was the biggest increase (by a wide margin) from 2015-16 to ’16-17. The Kings ranked third in the league with 8.7 pass-ahead passes (where the ball is passed from the backcourt to the frontcourt, traveling at least 18 feet toward the basket) per game and second with 9.2 skip passes per game.
KINGS NOTES – DEFENSE
- Have been a bottom-10 defense each of the last six seasons, longest current streak in the league.
- Ranked in the bottom five in regard to both the percentage of their opponents’ possessions that were in transition (15.3 percent) and their opponents points per possession (1.16) on those possessions. Have ranked in the bottom six in opponent fast break points per game in each of the last seven seasons.
- Allowed their opponents to take only 28.7 percent of their shots, the third lowest rate in the league, from the restricted area, though that was an increase from 28.5 percent (the league’s lowest rate) the season before.
- 36.1 percent of their opponents’ shots, the second highest opponent rate in the league (and in NBA history), were 3-pointers. Only Charlotte (36.3 percent) allowed their opponents to take a greater percentage of their shots (or score more points) from beyond the arc.
- According to SportVU, they allowed only 23.5 drives per game, fewest in the league.
KINGS NOTES – LINEUPS
- No lineup that played last season includes five of the seven guys who are still on the roster.
- The four guys who are still on the roster that played the most minutes together were Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Garrett Temple, who shared the floor for a total of 65 minutes.
- One of four teams – New Orleans, Philadelphia and Utah were the others – that didn’t have a lineup that played at least 200 minutes together last season. Their most-used lineup after the All-Star break (and the Cousins trade) – Darren Collison, Hield, Tyreke Evans, Labissiere and Cauley-Stein – played just 58 minutes together. Every other team had a lineup that played at least 94 minutes together after the break.
- Were very good offensively (112.5 points scored per 100 possessions) and very bad defensively (113.6 allowed) when point guards Collison and Ty Lawson played together (349 minutes).
KINGS NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- Vince Carter attempted 5.4 times as many 3-pointers (296) as mid-range shots (55) last season. That was about double the highest ratio of his career prior to that (2.7 in 2014-15). His assist rate (18.4 per 100 possessions used) was the second highest mark of his career and his turnover rate (6.9 per 100 possessions) was his lowest.
- Willie Cauley-Stein had a usage rate of 19.9 percent, up from 13.3 percent in his rookie season. That was the fifth biggest increase among players who played at least 500 minutes in 2015-16 and 1,000 minutes in ’16-17. New teammate George Hill (from 16.0 percent to 23.6 percent) was one of the four players who saw a bigger increase.
- Buddy Hield‘s 148 3-pointers led all rookies and were the most for a rookie in the last four seasons (since Damian Lillard made 185 in 2012-13). Hield ranked fourth in 3-point percentage among rookies with at least 100 3-point attempts and had an effective field goal percentage of 57.9 percent after the All-Star break, the best mark among 10 rookies who attempted at least 100 post-break shots. Skal Labissiere had the third best mark.
- Hield attempted just 9.9 free throws for every 100 shots from the field, the fifth lowest rate among 174 players who attempted at least 500 field goals last season. He didn’t rank quite as low (119th) in the percentage of his shots (23.1 percent) that came from the restricted area.
- Last season’s Jazz were at their best offensively, scoring 109.7 points per 100 possessions, when Hill was on the floor. Even with his big increase in usage rate, he recorded career highs in both effective field goal percentage (55.4 percent) and true shooting percentage (59.9 percent).
- Hill was one of 12 players with an effective field goal percentage better than 50 percent on at least 200 pull-up jumpers.
- Kosta Koufos scored 89.8 percent of his points in the paint, the highest rate among players who averaged at least 20 minutes in 40 or more games.
- Zach Randolph had the league’s highest usage rate (28.9 percent) off the bench (minimum 40 games). But he was the only player (in at least 20 minutes per game over 40 games or more) with a usage rate of at least 25 percent and a true shooting percentage of less than 50 percent last season. He scored just 0.68 points per possession on isolations, the worst mark among 54 players who had at least 100 isolation possessions.
- Garrett Temple recorded career highs in effective field goal percentage (51.9 percent) and true shooting percentage (54.5 percent), with his effective field goal percentage rising above the league average for the first time in his career. He’s taken 51 percent of his shots from 3-point range over his last three seasons, up from 32 percent over his first four years in the league.
NBA TV’s Kings preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 5. See the full preview schedule here.