One of Sacramento's greatest weaknesses last season was their inability to shoot the deep ball. The Kings ranked 28th in both makes and attempts last season and just 20th in percentage. Omri Casspi was the only player to shoot above 40% from three on the team last season, but he also had just 87 total attempts.
Being able to make the deep ball is a necessity in today's NBA. It keeps the defense honest, can help you make up deficits or extend leads, and it gives other players more breathing room. That last point is especially important considering the Kings have one of the NBA's most effective low post options in DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins routinely saw double and even triple teams at times last year because Sacramento didn't have many effective options to punish defenses from outside. Cousins is a very capable and willing passer, and surrounding him with better shooters will lead to easier baskets for all involved.
Fortunately, Vlade Divac knows that as well and did a good job this summer of bringing in guys that could help spread the floor. Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, Seth Curry, James Anderson and maybe Duje Dukan are all good shooters, or at least better than some of the options that the Kings used last season.
Last season, Ben McLemore was by far the leader in three point attempts on the team, shooting 391 of Sacramento's 1350 attempts. He made 35.8% of them, which is a good but not great number. Rudy Gay was second at 220 (making 35.9%) and Darren Collison was 3rd at 161 (37.9%). From then on you had guys like Derrick Williams (156 attempts, 31.4%), Nik Stauskas (149 attempts, 32.2%), and Ray McCallum (111 attempts, 30.6%) taking a lot of attempts and shooting a poor percentage. For most defenses, an open shot from one of those three guys is preferable to Cousins banging down low or Rudy pulling up from 15.
With Sacramento's new additions, the Kings are hoping that those attempts from bad shooters get replaced by more attempts from good shooters. Marco Belinelli had a down year for three point shooting last season and still managed to make 37.4% of his 230 attempts. Caron Butler made 37.9% of his 219 attempts. Seth Curry made a whopping 46.7% of his 334 attempts in the D-League. Omri Casspi will probably be encouraged to shoot more from distance after showing some increased consistency last year, and Ben McLemore will hopefully improve on that end as well.
Of course, the Kings also added a non-shooter to the team in Rajon Rondo that could complicate things as he has historically been a terrible shooter and probably figures to play a lot of minutes. While his 35.2% rate in Dallas was respectable, it was far too small of a sample size to infer that he's improved at all on that end. In fact, if he had made just two less threes, his percentage would have been 31.5%, more in line with his career average. Rondo can help by setting others up though, as he's one of the best players in the NBA at finding the open man.
The trick for George Karl will be finding the right combination and lineups to take advantage of the shooters the Kings have acquired. That will likely mean more instances of small ball, with Rudy Gay or Omri Casspi playing the four or even Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison or Seth Curry playing the two guard spots. If there's a coach that can figure out how to play that way though, it's George Karl.
I'd hesitate to call the Kings an elite three point shooting team this season, as they don't have a star player who can fill it up from range, but they do have a much stronger supporting cast in that department this year. With Cousins and Gay demanding a ton of attention by themselves, it should free up plenty of open opportunities for the Kings to take advantage of from distance. There's no reason the Kings can't at least be a good to above average three point shooting team, as they've replaced much of their poor shooting with good shooting. Expect to hear the Sleep Train whistle a lot more this upcoming season.