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Kings look to pick up aggressiveness toward the basket

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The Kings want to increase the pace and free throw attempts.

Photo by Kimani Okearah

The Sacramento Kings are 1-4 for a variety of reasons, but inexperience is likely the main culprit. With nearly a completely new cast of players from last season and more than half of the roster having little NBA experience, head coach Dave Joerger has a lot to teach.

Something Joerger has been trying to manage as part of that is the team’s overall lack aggressiveness.

The Kings are currently ranked 26th in the league in free throw attempts at 18 per game. The team took 10 total free throws in the home opener against the Houston Rockets, after which Joerger said it is a result of inexperience, size and being able to beat a guy and create contact, while getting into the paint. The issue continued over the next couple of games, with the Kings only getting to the line 13 times in each of the games against the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets.

Over the last two games, however, things have gotten better as the coaching staff has been trying to get its players to be more aggressive.

"Coach wants us to go attack downhill and try to attack the paint and make plays ... get to the foul line. So, put pressure on the rim, and that helps us create open shots for one another," said Kings guard Buddy Hield.

Against the Phoenix Suns, the Kings attempted a season-high 29 free throw attempts, and against the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night, the Kings went to the line 25 times.

Joerger has been preaching for his players to get into offensive sets quicker as well. The Kings are ranked 26th in the league in pace.

"We've been working on getting at least four guys over the half court line in the first four seconds or so," Joerger said.

When the coaching staff states that they want the team to play fast, it doesn't always mean they want their players to sprint up and down the floor as quickly as possible, just that they want the offense to initiate quicker. And with that comes attacking the basket downhill, which should translate to more free throw attempts.

In the game against the Pelicans, the Kings did well in terms of getting to the line, at least in the first half, when they scored 70 points. Those efforts, much like everything else in that game, broke down in the second half. Joerger said they just got "too slow."

Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic said it is a process, and while trying to speed up the offense, the team needs to remember how and when to take good shots.

"We want to play faster, but we need to work on ... good shots ... That's experience - we're young. For me, it's my first season here, I can’t imagine how it is for young guys,” said the 25-year-old Bogdanovic.

There aren’t many shots better than free throws (depending on who is taking them). Of the rotation players, Kosta Koufos and De'Aaron Fox lead the team with 2.4 free throw attempts per game.

"We just need to be aggressive defensively and offensively, and perhaps we get a call and it goes our way," Koufas said.

The Kings opponent on Sunday, the Washington Wizards, is allowing opposing teams to shoot 19.6 free throws a game, which is the 7th most in the NBA.