Let’s take a look at some interesting numbers from the first few games of the season. (All numbers below gathered from basketball-reference)
109.0 - That’s the current amount of possessions the Kings have averaged, putting them at 2nd in the NBA in pace. For reference, they have been at 94.9 in both of the previous years under Joerger. Under George Karl, the Kings actually led the league in pace ... at 100 possessions a game. The Kings are currently blowing that mark out of the water (and it also speaks to how the pace of the game is changing overall)
31 - That’s Nemanja Bjelica’s current Net Rating. The Kings have had a whopping 147 offensive rating (meaning they’ve been on pace to score 147 points per 100 possessions) with Bjelica on the floor so far this season. Bjelica has only played about 23 minutes a game despite starting each one, but he’s been very efficient with his shots and he provides some nice spacing and basketball IQ when he’s on the floor.
35.3 - De’Aaron Fox’s minutes per game, leading the team by far. I could have about 5 or 6 bullet points for De’Aaron as he’s been fantastic so far. 20.3 points, 52.5% from the field, 5.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.3 steals. Those are the numbers of a budding star. Hopefully he can keep it up.
60% - That’s the amount of shots that Willie Cauley-Stein is taking at the rim this season. For comparison, last year he was only at 45.9% and the year before at 44.9%. The good thing is he’s cutting out the midrange jumpers. Sure, Willie can hit those occasionally, but he’s so much better attacking the rim and he’s definitely playing like a man who wants to and should get paid this summer.
.255 - That’s the Kings Free Throw Rate, which means they’re getting to the line about a quarter of the time they shoot. That’s good for 18th in the league right now, which still isn’t good, but it’s a big improvement from last season when they were dead last in the league at .194. De’Aaron Fox is a big part of that improvement, getting to the line 7.7 times a game so far. Last year, he was at just 2.7 attempts.
0 - Amount of minutes by Zach Randolph so far this year. For as much as Joerger loved Randolph’s veteran presence last year, the Kings are not playing him at all in favor of their young bigs. This is a positive development in my mind.
.234 - That’s the Kings’ 3 point attempt rate which is dead last in the league. The Kings still do not take a lot of threes despite being generally pretty good at them (their 40.9% from three is currently 9th). The Kings have some good shooters too in Buddy Hield, Yogi Ferrell, Nemanja Bjelica, Iman Shumpert, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic. They should be shooting more of these. So far the offense hasn’t been hurting, but threes are so important in today’s league. Maybe when Bogi comes back that rate will go up a bit more.
13.7% - The Kings defense has been porous but the one good thing they’re doing on that end is forcing turnovers. That opponent turnover rate is good for 6th in the league right now. Five Kings are currently averaging at least a steal a game right now.
-45 - That’s Harry Giles’ current net rating. Giles has struggled so far in his first few games, particularly against New Orleans when he could not buy a basket. He’s only shooting 34.8% from the field right now but is currently the best defensive rebounding big and also passing big. Once Harry starts to find his groove offensively, he should be alright. He’s just trying to do a little too much right now.
.576% - Sacramento’s current effective field goal percentage (factoring twos and threes together) is good for 4th in the league. They have made 56.5% of their twos so far this year. Is that sustainable? Probably not, but the increased pace and increased transition opportunities are really helping.
7 - The amount of Kings currently averaging double digits in points, led by Fox’s 20.3 points, Cauley-Stein’s 18.7 and Buddy Hield’s 17.7.
15.7% - Marvin Bagley’s Total Rebounding Rate, which is the best on the team by a decent margin. Bagley has been very solid so far in his first few games, efficient on offense and more importantly a factor on the boards. His offensive rebounding has been a big addition to a team missing that piece since DeMarcus Cousins was traded.
Overall the Kings are doing much better than I’ve expected through three games. There’s still a lot of season left, but there are signs of hope.