The Kings are 8-18 which if projected out to 82 games is a 25 win season. Not what most hoped for but what a lot expected, I would assume.
On the bright side, the Kings improved their talent thru 2 separate trades, but unfortunately haven't had the necessary practice to get all the new players familiar with the systems. On the brighter side, the acquisition of Gay has given us that additional scorer, that I for one, thought Tyreke would be for us this season. Plus we've seen a steady improvement from our #1 pick.
Offensively the Kings are doing well, and rank 16th in OffRtg at 102.3. But, in the 6 games since Gay joined the team they are averaging 104 in spite of a miserable 87pt shooting night in Charlotte. One major concern should be the failure of the offense in crunch time. The Kings have been in 12 games where they were either up or down by 5pts with 5 minutes to go, and ended up going 4 and 8. They need to improve their half court offense, and not relying on Cuz and Isaiah as much down the stretch. My only complaint about Isaiah at this stage of the season, is the way he runs the offense in end of quarter possessions. At one stretch of 5 games we were 0 for 13 in end of quarter plays with Isaiah taking a 3pt shot out of the 1-4 offense in way too many of them.
Defensively, Coach Malone has a reason to be upset, but not about everything. The good pieces are there also. The Kings are 11th in Points in the Paint allowed. They're 2nd in fewest 2nd Chance Pts allowed, and 10th in fewest Points Off Turnovers allowed. So, while breakdowns in the perimeter defend and poor help rotations have led to the team giving up the highest number of 3pt shoots, at least a part of that is due to new personnel (rookies and vets alike) not knowing their defensive rotations. Something that is fixable in time. It also isn't helpful that we had to play a stretch 4 as our backup SG.
One last thing about our record. The Kings prior to the latest road trip had played fewer games against the Eastern Conference teams than any other Western Conference team. Now they are only 2nd to Golden State. Of the 7 games against eastern teams the Kings have played 3 against two of the top 3 teams in the conference,Miami and Atlanta, and 2 against other Eastern conference playoff teams.
They beat the only two non playoff teams, and should have beaten Charlotte who is 2 and 6 against the West, and Detroit who is only 1 and 10 against the West. The three teams ahead of the Kings in the West, Minny, Memphis and New Orleans, are a combined 19 and 10 against the East while they are 16 and 33 against Western teams. So, I expect more wins as the Kings start playing more of the Easts non-playoff teams.
So, with the increase in practice time and an increase in games against the bottom half of the East, the Kings defense is going to start looking a lot better. Not playoff better, but 30+ win better. In fact, some may start to think that they'll be playing themselves out of a draft pick, but we can only beat out a max of 7 teams in the East and probably a couple in the West, so we'll probably still be top 10 and keep their pick.
I think the future of the team looks promising. Currently, they need a backup PG who can run the offense and not just shoot from beyond the 3pt line. They could use someone besides Outlaw to provide defense at the 2 while McLemore develops. Let's hope Pete D' can work some more of his magic by the trade deadline. And, hopefully, Malone can work his with the players we currently have.