Nobody expected the Kings to beat the Golden State Warriors last night, so it was quite a pleasant surprise when they at least put themselves in a position to win by getting off to a good start. Sacramento built a 14 point lead in the first half and while they weren’t able to maintain it, it was quite a difference from how the rest of the season has gone so far.
Perhaps one of the bigger reasons for Sacramento’s strong start came from some changes to the starting lineup. Garrett Temple and Anthony Tolliver were inserted next to Darren Collison, Rudy Gay, and DeMarcus Cousins. Temple has been the best shooting guard on the Kings roster all season, but this was the first time all year that he’s started when the Kings haven’t had injury issues. Tolliver hasn’t been as consistent as Temple, but he’s had some strong play as of late, and his presence on the floor is seemingly a better fit for the Kings spacing than putting Kosta Koufos next to Boogie.
Of course, this is all just one game so it’s not like this lineup is some magic formula that will instantly turn the Kings into a much better team. But it’s definitely worth thinking about because Sacramento has been one of the worst first half teams in the NBA. Just take a look at these first and second half splits:
How the West looks, after January 9th: Really distasteful if you’re a Wolves fan pic.twitter.com/zcG8l01c8c— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) January 9, 2017
That -10.7 Net Rating in the first half is the worst of ANY team in the Western Conference while the second half net rating is better than that of three playoff teams. With a little more balance, the Kings won’t have to be working so hard to overcome deficits, and this new starting lineup could help in that regard.
Of course, this being the Kings, I wouldn’t count on this latest starting lineup even being the starting lineup going forward. Coach Dave Joerger likes to play matchups at some point, and with Kevin Durant starting at PF for Golden State, it’s unsurprising he didn’t go with Kosta Koufos to guard him. But I would like to see him stick with this lineup for a while, because it’s quite clear that we have enough evidence that the old lineup wasn’t working. The Kings need to get off to better starts, and adjusting who starts the game is one way to do that.