Yesterday's game against the Lakers was a good example of what the Kings can do really well and and also what they can't do, namely get stops against opposing guards. Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson combined for 90 of the Lakers 115 total points. Russell in particular nearly won the Lakers the game after the Kings took their foot off the gas in the 3rd quarter, seemingly content with their 27 point lead.
In the post-game press conference, George Karl seemed particularly peeved about the lack of perimeter defense.
Karl: "I don’t need anymore points, I don’t need anything more than than somebody to cover the damn basketball."— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) January 8, 2016
Karl: "If someone gets hungry enough to cover the basketball he’ll probably play."— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) January 8, 2016
Karl also pointed out that the guards are putting too much pressure on Sacramento's big men to protect the basket, which leads to guys getting out of position or in foul trouble. The Kings actually have some tough interior defense, particularly when Willie Cauley-Stein is healthy and they can rotate him in with Cousins and Kosta Koufos, with Quincy Acy there for added depth, but they're not good enough to cover up for the rest of the team's deficiencies. The Kings are currently allowing the most three point attempts and giving up the most three point makes in the league. They have the 3rd worst defensive eFG% and the 7th worst defensive rating in the league.
With the trade deadline just over a month away, the Kings would be wise to put some feelers out on guys that can play defense and stay on the court. By that I mean, not guys like James Anderson, who does play defense but is such a liability elsewhere that the net effect is still positive for the other team.
In the meantime, the coaching staff needs to take a serious look at the current schemes to try find a way to make the current roster work on that end. The constant switching in particular seems to be a problem as other teams look to exploit it. In quite a few of the recent games we've seen small guards switched onto opposing big men. Against the Mavericks it happened two or three possessions in a row where Darren Collison would get switched onto Dirk Nowitzki, and it resulted in points for Dallas each time. That's not an effort issue, that's a scheme issue.
There's still plenty of season left. This team has a ton of talent on the offensive end, but if they want to make this season something special, they'll need to start bringing it on the other side of the ball as well.