Kings' Defensive Deficiencies: At the Rim, Behind the Arc

Few seem to disagree or take issue with Paul Westphal's decision to replace DeMarcus Cousins in the starting lineup with Samuel Dalembert. Cousins has run into some measure of early foul trouble in four of his first five Kings games, and, despite having some stand-out offensive performances, could benefit from seeing opposing teams' back-up big men.

There's also a specific Kings performance issue for the switch: Sacramento's defense early in games has been abysmal, and Cousins hasn't figured it all out on that end. Dalembert is, of course, a terrific defender. Interestingly enough, the early numbers show what a problem interior difference (with Dalembert playing short minutes due to injury) has been.

The NBA as a whole has shot 61% at the rim in about 3,000 attempts. The Kings have allowed opponents to shoot 68 percent in 97 attempts at the rim.

But there's another big problem area on defense, and it wouldn't take you two guesses to figure it out (and not only partly because I mentioned it in the headline). Threes have been a huge defensive issue for the Kings. The NBA has shot about 35% on the whole this season. Against the Kings, teams have shot 44% from long-range. That's a massive, unsustainable discrepancy. But given the problems the team had defending the three-point line last season, it's not a terrific start. It's more terrifying.

At every other range -- short jumpers, mid-range jumpers, long two-point jumpers -- the Kings aren't far off the league average. But Sacramento has been awful enough in those two areas to make the Kings one of the very worst defensive teams this season, despite an overall soft schedule. More Dalembert should certainly help around the rim, and theoretically allows the guards to defend the arc more viligently. We'll see.

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