This season of Sacramento Kings basketball has been notable for a few key elements. Roster turnover. DeMarcus Cousins. Bad defense.
The defense is an oft-discussed issue around here. Michael Malone was hired with a reputation as a defensive coach, but that hasn't translated to improved defense on the floor. Sure, excuses could be made. Luc Mbah a Moute was traded away almost immediately, removing Malone's primary defensive player. And with the aforementioned roster turnover that has defined this season, there hasn't been a lot of time to work on defensive schemes in practice. Still, it would be nice to see some improvement from a coach who was supposed to be a defensive coach.
And then, quietly, the Kings have been improving on defense. The Kings are still not good at defense, but they are moving in the right direction.
Per NBA.com/stats, in March the Kings have a defensive rating of 103.7. That's a slight step backwards from February, when the Kings had a defensive rating of 102.9. But February and March signal a noteworthy improvement from December and January when the Kings defensive rating was over 108.
Delving deeper into the splits, the past 10 games have been the best 10 games of the season from a defensive perspective. Over the past 10 games, the Kings' defensive rating has been 103.3. Looking at the season in 10-game blocks, it's the best the Kings have been all year.
(Editor's Note: For the season, Sacramento has a defensive rating of 105.9. That's not very good, but it's also the best defensive rating the Kings have had since the 2006-07 season when it was 105.2. The Defensive Ratings for the seasons in between starting with 2012-13: 108.6, 106.8, 106.3, 107.2, 111.9, 107.2. If you're wondering why NBA.com's Defensive Rating data shows a slightly lower number than Basketball-Reference it's because the two sites calculate possessions differently, but the trend remains in both.)
With 12 games remaining this season, and with the Kings long-ago eliminated from playoff contention, it's good to see the Kings taking steps, however small, in the right direction.