Recently I wrote a post showing that the Kings were a below average shooting team. The Kings rank 22nd in EFG% at 49.1%, they’re a full 1% below the league average and 1.75% behind 10th place Denver. I showed where the Kings needed to improve offensively: Guards – Long 2’s & 3’s, SF’s – inside 10 ft and at the rim, PF’s – inside 10 ft, and Centers – at the rim. And, besides improved shooting, the team needed to increase their scoring from beyond the arc.
INTERIOR DEFENSE AND DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING
Now, let’s take a look at the defensive side of the game. The Kings are 9th in FG’s allowed At The Rim, and the reason is because they’re the 4th worst team in Shooting Percentage Allowed at 64.3%. The Kings are somewhat better Inside 10 ft. They still allow the 5th highest number a made FG’s, but it’s not for lack of defense. The Kings are actually the 3rd best defensive team at this range at 39.8%. The Kings allow a higher than average number of made FG’s in this range because teams shot the 3rd highest number of attempts against the Kings at his range. So, teams score higher than average against the Kings at these 2 ranges, but only the defense at the rim is below average.
Simple color key, if the Kings shoot or score better than the league average it’s green; below the average it’s red. If the Kings allow their opponents to shot or score better than average it’s red, the better defense is green.
As for the long 2’s and 3’s, the Kings rank 13th in field goals allowed and attempted from 16-23 ft. And they’re 10th in FG% from this range, 0.5% above the league average. From 3-pt range, the Kings are 22nd in FG’s allowed but their opponent take the 6th fewest attempts. And, they only shoot 0.4% better than average, which ranks the Kings 12th in FG% from this range. So while the Kings do give up a slightly higher than average Shooting Percentage at these two ranges, they have a slightly below average in field goals allowed. Which brings up the question why so few long range shots, and could the lack of attempts be connected to the high level of attempts inside 10 ft. Do teams find it easy to get past our exterior defense, so they take fewer long-range jumpers, and instead attack the interior defense.
Whatever the reason, it does seem that defensively, shots at the rim is our weakest area with teams shooting the 4th highest shooting percentage against us. And, teams shot at a slightly higher than average percentage on long 2’ and 3’s also. And, while we score 0.7 more FG’s than average, we give up about 1.4 more so our net is a negative 0.7 FG’s per game or 1.4 ppg more than we make.
As far as total rebounds per game goes, the Kings rank 10th with 42.6 per game. Compared to our opponents last season the Kings had 67 more offensive rebounds and 21 fewer defensive. But, as some have suggested, total rebounds might not be the best way of measuring performance here. Especially, with the offensive rebounds, where poor shooting, such is the case with the Kings would increase the opportunities for offensive rebounds and therefore inflate the numbers.
So at the advice of council, we’re going to look at Rebounding Rates, which is a percentage of the actual number of rebounds compared to the number of opportunities that the team actually gets. We’ll refer to the percentages as ORR & DRR. The Kings were ranked 6th in ORR at 27.8% last season. The top team Memphis averaged 31.3% and the league average was 27.3%. With a little math we can calculate that since the Kings averaged 11.9 offensive rebounds last season and that came out to an ORR of 27.8% then the total opportunities per game was 42.8. The 3rd best team in ORR was OKC with 28.6%. So, for the Kings to move from 6th place to 3rd place they would have to average 28.61% of 42.8 chances or 12.25 offensive rebounds per game. Or, an increase of 0.35 rpg over their 11.9 average last season.
The Kings DRR ranked them 18th at 73.5% last season. Using the same math we find that the average Defensive Rebounding opportunities per game was 41.9. The Kings were already below the league average of 73.7% with Orlando #1 at 77.4%. For the Kings to move into 3rd place they’d have to average 76.43% of 41.9 opportunities or 32.0 rpg which is 1.2 more defensive rebounds per game than last seasons average of 30.8.
So, that’s 0.35 more offensive rebounds to be in 3rd and 1.2 more defensive rebounds to be in 3rd. With the league EFG% at 50.1%, that equates to a 1.5 ppg improvement. That’s not a major improvement in scoring for a team that’s top 3 in rebounding, but it does represent 38% of last years average losing margin of 3.9 ppg.
The numbers seem to show that we are a below average defensive team and a below average offensive team. But, we’re so close to the league average offensively and defensively that with another year of experience for our young players and another year under PW’s tutelage we could move to above average with little or no personnel changes. The Kings did make a sizeable jump in defense with our current squad last season, from last to 22nd so a similar jump this season could be possible. Rebounding doesn’t seem to be the major problem some think it to be. We’re within one rebound per game of being in the top 5 of rebounding teams.
So do we really need a dominant low post defender & rebounder? Definitely yes, as far as the defender and low post scorer goes, but while a few extra rebounds from the center or pf would be a welcome addition, it’s probably not the need some imagine. Better team defense will decrease our opponents made FG’s and increase our defensive opportunities. And, while adding a low post defender would be the quick fix. Improving our team defense may have the biggest impact.
We need better defense and rebounding at the rim. And, if the low number of shots taken beyond 15 ft. is due to the ease at which our opponents get by the exterior defense, then we need help there also. Better defense in the backcourt, better pick and roll defense and quicker help defense when we double, all could have an impact on the interior defense and force our opponents into taking more low percentage long 2’s and fewer high percentage shots inside 10 ft.
Prioritized: Better team defense first and foremost; better defenders at the rim; and a better defender at the guard position, one who can hit from long range.
Defense at the rim could come from player development, but the quickest and most guaranteed way of improving would come from personnel changes. And, defense in the backcourt will only come from personnel changes. I don’t see Beno or Cisco stepping up their defense to become that defensive stopper next to Tyreke. While my conclusion won’t come as a shock to most Kings fans, hopefully I’ve been able to put a quantifying number on just where we stand compared to the rest of the league. I have my own opinions on how to acquire the personnel we need to move to the next level, but I’ll leave that discussion for others.