March 30, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Sacramento Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) shoots during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
While the best story for the Kings on the court this season was Isaiah Thomas coming from nowhere, the most important one was DeMarcus Cousins' rise. DeMarcus blew almost everyone's expectations out of the water by laying down the foundation for becoming one of the very best big men in the league in just his second year.
The Kings also saw major improvement from another young big man in Jason Thompson, who worked his tail off as he faced an uncertain future. Thompson was seemingly put on notice with the offseason acquisitions of Chuck Hayes and J.J. Hickson, and he more than delivered.
Hickson was waived after a terribly disappointing season. Hayes came into the season out of shape and suffered an early shoulder injury that affected him most of the year. He did not have nearly the impact on the team's defense that most hoped he would, and was a big let down overall.
Sacramento also saw increased opportunities for Hassan Whiteside, who began to make a little bit of an impact before an ankle injury took him out shortly after Hickson was waived. That was unfortunate, because he could have really benefited from that extra time down the stretch of the season.
I will be using several sources for my analysis. First, I'll be using the Advanced Statistics found on Basketball-Reference (PER, TS%, AST%, etc.). I will also be using mySynergySports.com to give a more in-depth look at how our players perform each possession, both offensively and defensively. mySynergySports.com uses PPP (Points Per Possession) to track individual players. They track individual play types on both ends of the court and I will be provding samples of each players major play types. For the shot location statistics, I'll be using HoopData.
The following statistics were compiled as of the end of the 2011-12 season. If you would like some explanations of the following statistics, Basketball-Reference has explanations here.
NOTE: I took off 82games.com's On/Off court ratings as they hadn't been updated since April 1st. If you're interested they can be found here.
PER: 21.7 (Tied 18th in NBA)
ORB%: 14.2% (1st in NBA)
DRB%: 25.9% (5th in NBA)
STL%: 2.4% (16th in NBA)
USG%: 29.7% (8th in NBA)
Offensive Rating: 102
Overall Offensive PPP: 0.86
- Post-Up (26.5%): 0.8
- Offensive Rebound (16.8%): 1.03
- Isolation (13.3%): 0.69
- Spot-Up (10.9%): 0.78
- P&R Roll Man (10.4%): 0.99
- At Rim: 4.1 FGM / 7.3 FGA (56.7%)
- 3-9 Feet: 1.0 FGM / 3.4 FGA (30.0%)
- 10-15 Feet: 0.3 FGM / 0.9 FGA (35.1%)
- 16-23 Feet: 1.5 FGM / 3.8 FGA (40.0%)
- Threes: 0.0 FGM / 0.2 FGA (14.3%)
- Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA): 0.37
Defensive Rating: 104
Overall Defensive PPP: 0.85
- Post-Up (37.6%): 0.82
- Spot-Up (32.5%): 1.0
- Isolation (14.6%): 0.74
- P&R Roll Man (9.4%): 0.73 (17th in NBA)
DeMarcus Cousins made huge strides in his game this year. He became the focal point of the Kings offense and opposing team's defenses. He became the first King since Brad Miller in 2004 to average a double-double, and the first since Chris Webber to average 11 rebounds. Despite all that, there is still a huge amount of room for him to grow, with various parts of his game that need tightening up.
Offensively, DeMarcus scored a lot more, but was still very inefficient from the floor for a big man. DeMarcus' 7.3 attempts at the rim led the entire league, but his 56.7% at the rim was the lowest of the top 45 players in attempts at the rim. Part of this seems by design; DeMarcus often throws up attempts at the rim in order to get the offensive rebound and a better shot attempt. That being said, DeMarcus is way too big and strong to be shooting under 60% at the rim. DeMarcus lacks a really solid go-to move in the post, and often chooses to go for finesse when power might be more conducive to getting to the line or even scoring. I thought he did a much better job of that as the season went along.
In his rookie year, DeMarcus wowed a lot of us with his passing skills. His assist rate dropped by 5% his sophomore year, but still had a very respectable 9.5% rate for a big man. He also vastly dropped his turnover rate thanks to the fact he wasn't trying to play Point Guard (most of the time).
Defensively, DeMarcus still has a lot of work to do. He fouls way too much, and it's the biggest reason he only averages around 30 minutes per game. That steal rate might seem amazing for a center, and it is, but I think trying to steal the ball so much often leads to some unnecessary fouls. DeMarcus does a great job of drawing fouls on his own though, as he led the entire NBA in charges drawn.
DeMarcus Cousins is the centerpiece of the future for this team. He still has a lot to work on, but just based on the growth he's had so far, you can't help but get excited at the possibilities.
PER: 16.4 (Career-High)
TS%: .558 (Career-High)
STL%: 1.3% (Career-High)
TOV%: 11.5% (Career-Low)
USG%: 15.5% (Career-Low)
Offensive Rating: 115 (16th in NBA)
Overall Offensive PPP: 0.97
- Cut (21.1%): 0.98
- Post-Up (19.9%): 0.79
- Offensive Rebound (18.5%): 1.09
- Transition (13.2%): 1.45 (9th in the NBA)
- P&R Roll Man (11.3%): 0.85
- At Rim: 2.3 FGM / 3.4 FGA (65.8%)
- 3-9 Feet: 0.9 FGM / 2.0 FGA (44.4%)
- 10-15 Feet: 0.1 FGM / 0.3 FGA (37.5%)
- 16-23 Feet: 0.5 FGM / 1.3 FGA (39.0%)
- Threes: 0.0 FGM / 0.0 FGA (0%)
- Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA): 0.41
Defensive Rating: 109
Overall Defensive PPP: 0.82
- Post-Up (36%): 0.77
- Spot-Up (31.7%): 0.9
- Isolation (13.6%): 0.62
- P&R Roll Man (10.6%): 0.87
Jason Thompson took it to a whole new level this past year. His career was essentially being put on the line, with his rookie contract coming to an end and more competition than ever for playing time.
Thompson was the most stable offensive player the Kings had outside of Isaiah Thomas on the entire team. His offensive rating is 2nd to Thomas, and 16th in the entire NBA. Why was the Kings offense so much better with Thompson on the floor? A few reasons. One, he made his shots. On a team full of inefficient shooters, Thompson was the only player to shoot over 46% from the field (at 53.5%). Two, Thompson knew his role. He wasn't a go-to guy, so he did what he had to contribute. Look at how many of his offensive possessions were off of cuts to the basket, offensive rebounds, or simply running the floor in transition. If Thompson's teammates would hustle or work to get open as much as JT does, the Kings offense as a whole would be a lot smoother.
Thompson still isn't a great defender, but he's not a bad defender either. He has a big body, and he's really improved from the foul machine he once was. He's also benefited from the extra attention DeMarcus Cousins receives to get open for those cuts, putbacks, etc.
Jason Thompson will be a Restricted Free Agent this offseason, and I want him back on the team (as long as it's not an exorbitant price). Every team in the NBA could use a guy like Jason Thompson, who knows his role and works hard to fit in. He should have a lot of suitors in the offseason, so it'll be interesting to see if the Kings retain him. Whatever the case, I have no doubt Jason Thompson is going to be in this league for a very long time.
ORB%: 7.3% (Career-Low)
DRB%: 18.0% (Career-High)
STL%: 1.8% (Career-Low)
TOV%: 21.1% (Tied Career-High)
Offensive Rating: 98
Overall Offensive PPP: 0.73
- Cut (28.9%): 1.15
- Offensive Rebound (19.1%): 0.78
- Post-Up (17%): 0.58
- Random Plays (14.9%): 0.37
- P&R Roll Man (8.5%): 0.6
- At Rim: 0.8 FGM / 1.5 FGA (49.4%)
- 3-9 Feet: 0.4 FGM / 1.2 FGA (37.5%)
- 10-15 Feet: 0.1 FGM / 0.2 FGA (50.0%)
- 16-23 Feet: 0.1 FGM / 0.2 FGA (66.7%)
- Threes: 0.0 FGM / 0.0 FGA (0%)
- Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA): 0.23
Defensive Rating: 109
Overall Defensive PPP: 0.73 (32nd in NBA)
- Post-Up (40.4%): 0.71 (49th in NBA)
- Spot-Up (30.6%): 0.75 (35th in NBA)
- Isolation (15.3%): 0.42 (2nd in NBA)
- P&R Roll Man (8.5%): 1.4
The Kings' "marquee" Free Agent acquisition from the Summer of 2011, Hayes was supposed to anchor the Kings defense and provide some high post passing on offense. He was a player that could contribute without needing the ball, something the Kings desperately needed.
Alas, Hayes came into camp very out of shape, and various injuries hurt him as he had one of his worst years since 2008-09. Offensively, Hayes was worse than a zero, he actually ended up hurting the Kings offense. While his passing was occasionally nice, he turned it over almost twice as much as he assisted. He was also relatively incapable of scoring the ball, and saw a big drop in his Field Goal %.
Defensively, Hayes was much better, at least individually, where he seemingly was a top-ranked NBA defender in most categories except for the Pick & Roll according to Synergy. That's no surprise to many of us who watched Hayes this year, but he was definitely not the answer to the Kings' terrible team defense.
Hayes was hurt at times by rotations that left him as the sole big man on the floor. He needs to be paired up with another solid rebounder and a guy who can operate in the low post on offense, like Luis Scola was in Houston. Otherwise his unique gifts are kind of wasted.
Hayes is going to have to come into training camp in much better shape next year, or this is going to start to look like a bad investment by the Kings.
BLK%: 10.0% (Serge Ibaka 9.8%)
Offensive Rating: 98
Overall Offensive PPP: 0.74
- Offensive Rebound (36.8%): 0.5
- Post-Up (21.1%): 0.75
- Cut (15.8%): 1.0
- Random Plays (10.5%): 0.25
- At Rim: 0.3 FGM / 0.7 FGA (50.0%)
- 3-9 Feet: 0.3 FGM / 0.5 FGA (55.6%)
- 10-15 Feet: 0.0 FGM / 0.1 FGA (0%)
- 16-23 Feet: 0.1 FGM / 0.2 FGA (25.0%)
- Threes: 0.0 FGM / 0.0 FGA (0%)
- Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA): 0.46
Defensive Rating: 102
Overall Defensive PPP: 0.7
- Spot-Up (55%): 0.73
- Post-Up (35%): 0.86
**Extreme Small Sample Size Alert**
Like Tyler Honeycutt, Hassan basically only played in Garbage time, and the few times he was inserted into a meaningful game, it wasn't necessarily for very long. So I'm not going to take this data super seriously.
Still, a few of these numbers surprise me. His rebounding rate is very strong, on both ends of the floor, which considering how little of the time he boxes out is impressive. He uses his long arms to snatch boards out of the air. His shotblocking was mightily impressive, blocking shots at a similar rate to league leader Serge Ibaka.
Offensively he's very raw, but he tends to keep things relatively simple which is nice. Most of the time he'll be there for an offensive rebound putback, and his post-up move is usually just a quick half hook. He also has a mid-range bankshot he uses at points. This is probably the area of his game that needs the biggest amount of work.
The talent to become a legitimate NBA player is definitely here with Hassan. However, he does seem to be very injury prone, having accumulated a few of them in his short NBA career already, and I wonder if that's a concern going forward or if they were just flukes.
A good summer from Hassan Whiteside could see him become a bit more of a rotation player, because the Kings really do need the shot blocking he provides.