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Player Grades: Garrett Temple

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The veteran guard was a steady presence for our inexperienced crew.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Grading anything as subjective as an entire NBA season is always a tough gig. Different people have different goals for an individual as well as different techniques for assessing a seven month long journey. To keep things moderately simple, I will be using the expectations we had heading into the season for each player as the barometer for how well their season went. These grades won’t necessarily tell us where they rank among their fellow NBA players or what their career trajectory may be, but rather it will help assess where we stand with that prospect today compared to where we stood in October.

Player: Garrett Temple

Grade: C-

Reasoning: Garrett Temple didn’t quite have the defensive impact that was so impressive last year, but he managed to increase his value as a shooter, knock down the long-ball with regularity, and was a huge impact both in the locker room and within the larger Sacramento community. There were moments of frustration as well as monster performances from our veteran guard, leading to a season that was satisfactory, although not spectacular.

Areas of Strength

When the Kings signed Temple in free agency two summers ago, most fans expected a solid locker room presence who was also known as an above-average defender. Last year, Garrett blew those expectations out of the water and was one of the most underrated perimeter stoppers in the league. From night to night he took on the opposing team’s best player, whether that was a point guard, shooting guard, or wing, while also managing to cover a multitude of defensive sins committed by his teammates. Although some of his abilities seemed to drop off a bit this year, there was one area in which he was even stronger than his first in a Kings uniform: isolation.

Garrett outclassed most of the league when taking on a scorer one-on-one, ranking in the 94th percentile when guarding players in iso, better than vaunted names such as Draymond Green, Andre Roberson, and Paul George. He proved that he can lock down larger and quicker players through sound defensive principles, allowing opponents to score just 0.58 points per possession, while shooting 27.3% from the floor and scoring only 25.6% of the time. When Dave Joerger needed someone to step up and hound an opposing player, Temple was ready for the call.

Our veteran guard was also extremely effective as an outside threat. Temple knocked down a career-high 39% of his shots from beyond the arc, tying Bogdan Bogdanovic for second-highest on the team among rotational players. His accuracy wasn’t the only significant increase, as he also attempted the most three-pointers of his career, taking 3.5 per game and 5.1 per-36 minutes.

Areas of Opportunity

The departure of DeMarcus Cousins last February left a massive void on offense for the Kings, and the lack of a star replacing his production caused players like Garrett Temple to try and do more than they’re capable of. Temple’s role on offense should be that of a complimentary shooter, rather than as a focal point, but he seemed to feel the need at times to be a primary option, something not in his wheelhouse. His total field goal attempts increased from 432 last year to 476 this season, even though he played 113 fewer minutes. There were more shot attempts, fewer passes, and there was a tendency to try and score one-on-one rather as a set shooter.

Higher Usage, Less Facilitation

Year Usage AST% Assists per-36 Passes per-36 Pass to Ast % FGA per-36
Year Usage AST% Assists per-36 Passes per-36 Pass to Ast % FGA per-36
2016-2017 14.2 14.4 3.5 42.3 8.30% 9
2017-2018 16.4 11.3 2.8 40.3 6.80% 10.6

Likewise, Temple was much more reluctant to look for open teammates when he was driving the ball. He averaged the same amount of attacks at the rim as last year, 2.2 per game, but cut his assists on those plays almost by half. In the 2017 season, he recorded an assist percentage of 15.4% on drives, highest on the team. Meanwhile, that number crashed all the way to 7.1% during the 2018 campaign.

Another indicator of Temple’s determination to become more of a focal point for the team was his significant decrease in field goals that were within the confines of the offense. He took fewer catch-and-shoot attempts, had a larger amount of pull-up three-pointers, and saw a drop in his assisted field goals from last season:

Increased Self Reliance

Year % of 2P FGs Assisted % of 3P FGs Assisted % of 3P Attempts Pull-Up % of 3P Attempts Catch & Shoot
Year % of 2P FGs Assisted % of 3P FGs Assisted % of 3P Attempts Pull-Up % of 3P Attempts Catch & Shoot
2016-2017 52% 92% 15% 85%
2017-2018 42% 88% 27% 73%

Unsurprisingly, Temple’s accuracy and efficiency were much improved when he was operating as a secondary option, and both dropped when he was trying to do it on his own. He knocked down an impressive 43% of his catch-and-shoot attempts from beyond the arc, second best on the team, while his percentages dropped all the way to 27% on pull-up shots, seventh on the squad.

Our best perimeter defender also struggled in two areas in which he found success last season: guarding pick and roll ball handlers and stopping spot-up shooters. Both of those categories were positions of strength for Temple in the 2016-2017 campaign, but he slipped quite a bit this past year:

Decreased Defense

Year Play Type Frequency Percentile PPP Opponent FG%
Year Play Type Frequency Percentile PPP Opponent FG%
2016-2017 P&R Ball Handler 34.50% 47th 0.86 39.80%
2017-2018 38.50% 12th 1 49.10%
2016-2017 Spot-Up Shooter 29.20% 55th 0.97 34.90%
2017-2018 23.50% 41st 1.05 39.40%

Not every part of Temple’s struggles can be directly assigned to his talent. Most of the team trended towards passivity on offense which occasionally forced Garrett to become too aggressive; although there were plenty of instances in which his self-reliance was self-induced. He was a mess in transition, often choosing to take a difficult shot rather than share the ball, and ended the year scoring just 0.99 points per possession and turning the ball over 19.4% of the time, by far the worst on the roster and ranking #182 out of 210 qualified players.

Temple’s defensive slide in several areas was a bit more concerning. As a player whose number one strength is that of a reliable stopper, he needs to have a larger and more consistent impact on the defensive side of the floor.

Final Thoughts: Garrett Temple was a slightly less effective version of himself last year. His shooting was better, but his defense slipped quite a bit in several areas, and he took on too much of a role as a scorer. Hopefully, our Front Office is able to add some talent through free agency as well as the draft, and Garrett can slide back into the role best suited for him as a bench 3-and-D contributor next year.

Temple’s influence as a leader on the court, as a player-coach, in the locker room, and throughout the Sacramento community cannot be overstated. His value in those areas isn’t measurable in simple numbers or metrics, but his presence is incredibly important to this team. He currently has an $8 million player option sitting on the table, and while a decision to opt-out and test the waters of free agency would open up some cap space for the Kings; an opt-in on his part would also be extremely beneficial to his teammates, to the organization, and to this city.