As someone who thought Westphal would be fired already after the mess that was the early season (follow my NBA twitter @Fire_Westphal lol), I wanted to take a look and see if there are signs of life in this roster. I’m looking for a level of improvement that might not be captured in W-L record at the team level, at this point I’m not as concerned with individual improvement.
The way I am going to look at improvement is trending the average 10-game point differential, opponent Win%, and % of Home games in the 10-game period.
(Note - Much of this was written before the last two OT losses, which I think only serve to underscore the overall point.)
Graph - Color coded to show how terrible the Kings were playing a couple months ago, and how close they are to a breakthrough.
1 – Opponent WIN% hasn’t been above .560 for a 10-game stretch this season, meaning the Kings haven’t really had a truly difficult stretch of opponents yet. The difficult stretch is certainly on it’s way though…Games 44-54 are BRUTAL.
2 – Until this road trip, the Kings haven’t had a stretch where they have played more than half their games on the road. This helps to see the recent games in a better light, as road games are always more difficult.
3 – Point differential has improved greatly, while playing on the road against a similar level of competition.
4 – My previous stance on firing Westphal appears to be incorrect. Think twitter will let me use the name @Fire_Westphal_ifhedoesntdevelopRekeDMCbyEOY? lol
While this road trip has had some heartbreaking losses, and definitely stretches of bad play, there is definitely improvement. Playing close on the road is a step on the road back to relevance. The next step is to consistently beat bad teams at home (next one is the Bobcats in game 43, then we have to wait until game 58 against the Clips for another bad team at home.)
Learning to win close games is has to be the goal by the end of the year, the talent is there to win some games, now it just needs to execute.
PS – The @Fire_Westphal twitter account is mostly just to keep my NBA feeds in a different account and not clutter up my normal account, the name is just because I figured it would have happened by now lol. I believe that Westphal has done a much better job now that he has solidified his rotations a bit, and reduced the yo-yo playing time dramatically. J