All dreams eventually end. The good ones tend to end with a slowly waking moment filled with both a bit of confusion and dread. Like all good dreams, you wish they just kept going. Unfortunately for the Sacramento Kings, it looks like reality is rearing its ugly head. Their invisible D and lackluster bench are rearing their ugly head.
An Invisible D
Despite possessing some truly electrifying players, the Kings this year suck on defense. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just read some of their stats. They give up the most points per game in the league, and that is two points worse per game than the 29th ranked Wizards. The Kings are the only team in the NBA that allows its opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the field. They are in the bottom five of fastbreak D, opponent three-point shooting percentage, and pretty much every other defensive statistic. If you couldn’t figure it out from those stats I’ll just say it. The Kings have the worst defense in the NBA and, somehow, they are only getting worse. Their defense over the last three games has been so bad even the second worst-ranked Suns (over that span) have a rating (1.176) closer to a top 10 defense (1.017) than to the Kings (1.328). We knew Luke Walton would want to run ‘n’ gun with this team, but I doubt he had this type of play in mind.
Last week I was highlighting some of the other guys that help the Kings tick, but this isn’t about them. Richaun Holmes has been one of the surprises of the season. Harrison Barnes is playing his best ball since Golden State. Cory Joseph is better than expected. Other than Joseph (and Tyrese Haliburton), the Kings’ bench is incredibly weak. Nobody other than Haliburton (who plays starter-level minutes) averages more than 6.8 points per game. When the bench comes on they are noticeably worse. It is clear at this point that the Kings don’t have a deep enough team to truly contend. Nobody from the bench sticks out, and at some point, it might be smarter to always mix starters with the bench unit to dilute the drop in quality.
We already knew this season was going to be difficult (especially in a loaded Western Conference), but between the bench and the D we have to start looking for solutions. Whether it lies on the personnel or on the coach, Kings GM Monte McNair will have some decisions to make if this continues.