The Sacramento Kings have had one of the worst benches in the entire NBA this season. While it's been well documented that Sacramento's starters have been very good (top 5 in the league good), the bench has been abysmal and it has cost the team multiple games over the course of the season.
Neither Tyrone Corbin or Mike Malone was able to figure out Sacramento's bench, but early signs appear to be good for George Karl. While the Kings rank as the 6th worst bench overall for the season per hoopsstats.com, over the last 5 games, all under Karl, Sacramento's bench has actually been the 4th best in the entire league in terms of net differential. Why and how have there been such a drastic difference?
For one, it would be unfair to give Karl total credit, as the acquisition of Andre Miller for Ramon Sessions has played a big part. Backup Point Guard was a complete mess before Miller's acquisition and Miller has been very good since coming to Sacramento, averaging 7.6 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds in just 22.8 minutes a game. Having a PG like Miller run Sacramento's bench makes everyone better. Miller currently has an Assist Percentage of 39.7%, which would be the highest for a Sacramento Kings player since *looks it up* ever. Of course, small sample sizes apply here but still; Miller's passing and leadership on the floor has been a huge boon for everyone involved.
Perhaps the biggest change Karl has implemented to the bench is to keep a tight rotation, with the primary players off the bench being Omri Casspi, Andre Miller and Derrick Williams. Rookie Nik Stauskas hasn't seen the floor aside from garbage time against the Clippers, and even Carl Landry, one of Sacramento's better bench players, hasn't played much. Casspi was having a career year under Malone before knee injuries hampered him and the All-Star break did a good job of rejuvenating him, as did Karl's playing style, which emphasizes getting up and down the court quickly and getting to the rim. Williams has benefited from this as well.
Sacramento's bench still needs some work, but Karl's reputation for getting the most out of his players has definitely lived up to the hype so far. I can't wait to see what he's able to do with this team next year with some more depth and a full training camp.