One Team, Three Stats: Kings slow it down

The Sacramento Kings have not only missed the playoffs for 10 straight years. They’ve been a below-average 10 on both ends of the floor for 10 straight years.

This summer, the Kings hired Dave Joerger as their sixth coach in the last six seasons. Joerger had some defensive success in Memphis, but has yet to begin a turnaround in Sacramento.

The Basics – Sacramento Kings

Pace: 95.4 (28th)

OffRtg: 103.0 (17th)

DefRtg: 107.6 (29th)

NetRtg: -4.7 (22nd)

Kings links: Team stats | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Off to a 4-8 start with below average marks on both ends of the floor again, the Kings host the best team in the league – the Los Angeles Clippers – in the second game of ESPN’s Friday double-header (10:30 p.m. ET).

No. 1

The Kings have averaged just 95.4 possessions per 48 minutes last season, down from 102.2 last season.

That’s, by far, the biggest pace drop-off in the league. As a whole, the league is averaging 1.2 possessions per 48 minutes more than it did last season, but Joerger has come in and slowed the Kings down considerably.

And the early returns are not good. Through Thursday, the Kings are one of six teams that have regressed on both ends of the floor. They’ve scored 0.4 points per 100 possessions fewer and allowed 1.3 points per 100 possessions more than they did last season.

Early shots are generally good shots. League-wide, effective field goal percentage drops as the shot clock goes down. So far this season, league-wide effective field goal percentage has been around 60 percent with 19-24 seconds to go on the shot clock, about 50 percent with 7-18 seconds to go, and just 43 percent in the final six seconds of the clock.

According to SportVU, the Kings took 18.6 percent of their shots in that super-valuable first six seconds last season, the third highest rate in the league. This season, they’ve taken only 10.3 percent of their shots in the first six seconds, the ninth lowest rate. That’s the biggest drop-off by a wide margin. According to Synergy, only 13.1 percent of the Kings’ possessions have been in transition, a rate which ranks 20th in the league and is down from 18.5 percent (third) last season.

The pace has picked up only slightly with the return of Darren Collison, who was suspended for the first eight games. And the point guard is the King most likely to suffer from a slower pace. Though he was sharing the point guard position with Rajon Rondo, Collison ranked eighth in field goals in the first six seconds of the shot clock last season and shot much better in the first six seconds than he did otherwise.

The slower pace might be OK if the Kings were doing a much better job of preventing early shots by their opponents. Good defense starts in transition, but the Kings have only seen a small decrease in the percentage of their opponents possessions that have come in transition, from 15.7 percent (second highest opponent rate) last season to 15.4 percent (third highest) this season. This is a franchise that has ranked no better than 22nd in fast break points allowed per game in the last six seasons and, despite the slower pace, it’s on its way to a seventh straight ranking in the bottom 10.

The Kings have slowed themselves down quite a bit. The problem is that they haven’t done the same to their opponents.

No. 2

The Kings have been 22.2 points per 100 possessions better with Rudy Gay on the floor than with him on the bench.

Through Wednesday’s games, that was the ninth highest on-off differential among players who had played at least 200 minutes. The Kings have been 10.4 points per 100 possessions better offensively and 11.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Gay on the floor.

Gay, who has reportedly been on the trading block, has career-high marks in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and defensive rebounding percentage. He also has the lowest turnover rate of his career.

But it’s not that the Kings have been that great with Gay on the floor. He’s a plus-32 in 379 minutes. It’s just that they’ve been awful with him on the bench, getting outscored by 19 points per 100 possessions.

Some of that comes from one game, a 26-point loss in Milwaukee that Gay missed. But even when you throw that game out, the Kings have been outscored by 16.0 points per 100 possessions with Gay off the floor.

The players who have been on the floor most while Gay has been on the bench have been Garrett Temple (144 of the 207 minutes), Matt Barnes (136) and Ben McLemore (123). The Kings have an aggregate bench NetRtg of minus-7.4, a mark which ranks 23rd in the league.

No. 3

The Kings have allowed 111.5 points per 100 possessions in the first halves of games, the highest mark in the league.

The Kings rank 27th in defensive efficiency overall. And they’ve been much worse in the first half of games than in the second half (when they’ve allowed only 101.8 points per 100 possessions.

League-wide, offense has been better in the first half (104.2) than in the second half (103.1). Compared to the league average, the Kings’ first-to-second-half improvement isn’t so dramatic. Still, they’ve been the worst defensive team in the first half and a better-than-average defensive team in the second half.

Some good news: The difference has been almost entirely about their opponents’ outside shooting. Their opponents have had an effective field goal percentage of 52.6 percent from outside the paint in the first half and 41.5 percent in the second half.

After just 12 games, there is certainly some noise in those numbers. Five of those 12 games have been against teams that currently rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, but the schedule isn’t getting easier in that regard just yet. Three of their next four games area against the Clippers (4th), Raptors (2nd) and Rockets (5th).

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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