Shooting is not the Kings' biggest problem

Ezra Shaw

We keep hearing and in some cases saying that the Kings need shooting. Not really.

Quick! What's the stock answer to the question about the Kings' biggest need? If you said "shooting" you're mostly right. We would also accept "defense." They both get mentioned a lot.

Only one of those is correct, though. The Kings ranked No. 29 in overall defense, with the No. 27 shooting defense, No. 30 defensive rebounding rate and No. 27 foul rate. Sacramento desperately needs to improve its defense. But shooting? The Kings were No. 16 in effective field goal percentage and No. 12 in three-point shooting percentage. They could improve on that, and should. But it's not nearly the team's biggest problem.

The need for shooting typically manifests as a critique of Tyreke Evans or an explanation as to why certain players wouldn't work in a backcourt with him. But Evans improved his shooting quite a bit in 2012-13, getting up to 34 percent on threes and an effective field goal percentage of .508. (His previous best season was .473. League average among all players last season was .496.) Tyreke ended up with a better eFG than even Jimmer Fredette last season. 'Reke finished behind Marcus Thornton and virtually even with Isaiah Thomas.

All four major rotation guards for the Kings last year -- 'Reke, Jimmer, Isaiah and Thornton -- finished above league average in eFG. The Kings' small forwards? All four of them finished well below league average. John Salmons (2,200 minutes) was at .480, James Johnson (900 minutes) was at a horrid .417, Travis Outlaw (400 minutes) was at .458 and Francisco Garcia (700 minutes) came in at .473. The biggest factors in the Kings not finishing higher in shooting were the small forward deficiencies and DeMarcus Cousins, who led the team in shot frequency but has an eFG of just .467. (Given that Cousins should be taking very few threes, his raw field goal percentage should be close to his eFG.)

So when we're talking about improving the Kings, and we're specifically talking about the shooting of the team: focus not on Tyreke or the backcourt. Focus on small forward and Boogie. Those spots get more efficient and the backcourt maintains or improves, and it will take care of itself. In the meantime, defense please.

(This isn't so much a commentary on Michael Carter-Williams as it may seem -- his presence would likely slice into the Kings' shooting success, unless you're of the mind his playmaking would boost everyone else. Also, on his defense: he did come from Syracuse, so ...)

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