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Tracking the “New Plan”

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The Kings promised more minutes for the youth, so lets see how it’s goink going.

NBA: Rising Stars Challenge-U.S. at World Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On January 16, Dave Joerger announced a new plan for getting the youth more minutes. Multiple veterans would sit every game as the team would focus on evaluating the young prospects on the roster in game situations. Since then, the team has played 14 games, and since there is a lull in the schedule, might as well see how things are playing out.

Minutes since January 16

Team Rank Player Minutes
Team Rank Player Minutes
1 Bogdan Bogdanovic 429
2 De'Aaron Fox 409
3 Willie Cauley-Stein 361
4 Justin Jackson 338
5 Buddy Hield 320
6 Zach Randolph 293
7 Garrett Temple 279
8 Vince Carter 250
9 Kosta Koufos 244
10 George Hill 171

The team’s top 5 in minutes are all potential pieces for the future. Three of the top four are rookies, mostly since Justin Jackson rocketed to the top of the rotation as the starting small forward. He doesn’t show up on the table, but it also looks like the Kings are giving JaKarr Sampson a shot in recent games (6th on the team in total minutes in the last five games). With Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson gone, there is a clearer picture of who the Kings want to focus their development efforts on.

Since January 16th, Zach Randolph and Garrett Temple received three DNPs each, but were needed in the rotation due to injuries to Frank Mason and Skal Labissiere. Kosta Koufos and Vince Carter both got two days off, but neither typically plays heavy minutes regardless. George Hill is now gone to Cleveland.

Its notable that, while the team hasn’t the lit the league on fire since the youth-centric minute distribution plan was announced, the team has improved on its league-worst performance from earlier in the season, mostly due to the internal growth of the young players. The Kings have gone 5-9 in the stretch, a roughly 29 win pace, compared to the 24 win pace they were on previously. During this stretch, the team’s offensive rating rank (23rd in the NBA), defensive rating rank (25th in the NBA), and net rating rank (25th) are all improvements from when they were dead last in each category before this stretch. The performance is nothing significant enough to make Tankathon watchers sweat, and there’s no guarantee that this is the beginning of an upward trend, but its nice to see improved play nonetheless.

After the All-Star break, it’ll be interesting to see how the team re-integrates Labissiere and Mason into the rotation. Do the Kings bury Sampson again? Do they ramp up the DNP rates for the veterans? Does Bruno Caboclo get a shot? The Sacramento Kangz will keep you guessing, so stay tuned.