Newsflash, dateline Sacramento: the Kings suck.
But how? You can't fix problems without, um, identifying the problems. So let's head through this methodically.
FOUR FACTORS X 2
Dean Oliver's seminal Basketball on Paper introduced possession-based analysis to the masses. One of the most central team analysis tools he offered is called The Four Factors. These four factors define the quality of an offense. They also apply to defenses, hence the "X 2." Oliver used regression analysis to divine the elements that make an efficient or inefficient offense/defense. In order of import: shooting, turnovers, rebounding, fouls. Shooting is by far the most important element on either end; rebounding and turnovers are about equal in importance. Foul-drawing/giving is a factor, but not as big a deal on a league-wide level as the others. All other stats you could bring up factor into one of the these eight categories.
So stack 'em up.
Shooting, as expressed by effective field goal percentage: Kings -- 21st with .482 eFG%; league average -- .495; league high -- .543 (Phoenix); league worst -- .459 (Clippers).
Turnovers, as expressed by turnovers/100 possessions: Kings -- 26th with 14.6; league average -- 13.6; league best -- 12.0 (San Antonio); league worst -- 15.4 (Boston).
Rebounding, as expressed by offensive rebounding percentage: Kings -- 24th with 25.3%; league average -- 26.8%; league best -- 32.7% (Portland); league worst -- 21.3% (San Antonio).
Fouls, as expressed by free throws made/100 field goals attempted: Kings -- 9th with 24.7; league average -- 23.6; league best -- 29.9 (Denver); league worst -- 18.9 (San Antonio).
Shooting, as expressed by opponent effective field goal percentage: Kings -- 28th with .519; league average -- .495; league best -- .458 (Orlando); league worst -- .527 (Washington).
Turnovers, as expressed by opponents turnovers/100 possessions: Kings -- 17th with 13.1; league average -- 13.6; league best -- 15.6 (Milwaukee); league worst -- 11.8 (Phoenix).
Rebounding, as expressed by defensive rebounding percentage: Kings -- 29th with 70.5%; league average -- 73.2%; league best -- 77.2% (San Antonio); league worst -- 67.1% (Golden State).
Fouls, as expressed by opponents free throws made/100 field goals attempted: Kings -- 27th with 26.8; league average -- 23.6; league best -- 18.3 (San Antonio); league worst -- 30.1 (Milwaukee).
Of the eight factors which decide a team's quality game-to-game, the Kings rank above average in ... exactly one. And it is the least important factor on offense. The Kings rank among the bottom third of the league in all but two categories. On defense, Sacramento ranks among the worst four teams in the league in three of the four factors ... including the two most important.
There isn't a magical dressing for such widespread anemia. Carlos Boozer won't fix it alone, nor will some 19-year-old point guard. There's a sincere talent deficit working here, to go hand in hand with bad execution and often poor effort. Multiple miracles are required over the next few years so that we don't find our team in a re-run of the franchise's first 15 years in Sacramento.
Not to beat a long-dead horse, but in 1998 the salvation came in waves: the Webber trade, the Divac signing, bringing Peja over, drafting Jason Williams. And we'd have more moves before getting to the elite level -- trading for Mike Bibby, trading for Doug Christie, drafting Hedo Turkoglu, signing Bobby Jackson,
drafting signing Scot Pollard. (Thanks Chris!)
That is one helluva of a re-imagining. It can happen, but it seems so far away, so ... invisible.
Let's hope Petrie, Cooper and Levien are cooking something up. Because it needs to be BIG.