While the Kings have started to turn things around and they haven’t just given up this past season, which is an accomplishment, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.
I think it is safe to say that the Kings are not a good team at this point and have a long ways to go, but I was really surprised when I looked at some of the stats comparing the Kings to other teams.
The lowest of the low... The Kings are the absolute worst at something this year. Sadly, they have the fewest Assists in all of the NBA with only 1528. For context, the Spurs are the highest with 2015 Assists. Almost 500 more Assist this season!!
To add insult to injury… The Kings also have the 3rd lowest 3P%, have the 4th lowest number of blocks, and have the 5th highest number of Turnovers. Ugh!!
In looking for some gems among this mess I can’t help but reflect on how Grant and Jerry have repeatedly talked about how this is the only team with three players averaging 20 or more points. I think this has been mentioned repeatedly as a positive for this team when faced with such bad numbers most everywhere else.
I mean it is great to think we could have a "Big Three," but the real problem may be that we do NOT have any other player averaging double digits in points. If you look at good teams they typically have all of their starters averaging double digit scoring and have at least one person coming off the bench getting at least that. Look at Portland, Indiana, and San Antonio… Even Robin Lopez and Hibbert are scoring in double figures.
There are the exceptions like OKC with four starters at double digits and Miami with their Big Three scoring a lot, but even Miami has two other players scoring almost double digits, with 9.8 and 9.5 ppg.
We have an Iso-dependent offense that doesn’t move the ball and features three players. IT, Gay, and Cousins are our "Big Three," but they are only going to get you @60+ points per game. However, 60 points doesn’t, as we have discovered this season, win a lot of basketball games. Our other two starters need to be scoring at least 10 ppg and we need solid production from our bench with at least one player getting better than that.
Basically, we need to up our scoring a bit somewhere... We are averaging 100.5 ppg which is close to the NBA league average, 100.9 ppg. The highest scoring team is the Clippers at 107.9 ppg. If our starters and bench could average just a few more points each game our offense would be on the right track.
The really interesting stat, IMO, is the MOV (aka, Margin of Victory) statistic. Ours is -2.88 points. This means that the Kings scored 2.88 points less than their opposing teams. This really is an improvement over last year when we had the 4th worst in the NBA at -4.88 points.
So, there is improvement, but it takes more than that to get anywhere. It also takes defense. The Wizards, Nets, Bobcats, Pacers, and Bulls all scored fewer points than we do and are going to the Playoffs with the difference being the defense on some of the lowest scoring teams, like the Bobcats, Bulls, and Pacers. (Note: Some weak Eastern conference issues are there as well).
The Kings give up way too many points and, despite all of the recent effort, didn’t really reduce their opponents shooting percentage this year. Last year our opponents shot .517 and we were the 4th worst in the NBA. This year our opponents have shot .512 so not a huge improvement...
So, how do you fix this?
Clearly a LOT needs to be done. Given our rankings we need more assists, better 3pt shooting, better rim defense, and fewer turnovers. Passing is our biggest deficiency. We have quite a few players that do their best shooting when they are set, but most often they don’t get the ball when they are open and ready to shoot. I think this is also one of the reasons our 3pt shooting is so low.
IT and to some degree Gay are going to have to set up their team members better. I would say that Cousins is doing his part in this, especially lately, but each of our "Big Three" may need to have a little less usage so that everybody else can be more involved in the offense.
You do that and address the lack of rim protection and we win many more games. If we could combine addressing our offensive weaknesses with shaving just a bit off of our opponents shooting percentages we would, I predict, be in the playoffs next year.