It was no secret heading into free agency that the Sacramento Kings were looking for an upgrade at backup point guard. Frank Mason was coming off of a disappointing sophomore season where playing time was minimal, and Yogi Ferrell, while solid, didn’t do enough to prevent the Kings from searching for his replacement.
As of this writing, both Frank Mason and Yogi Ferrell are still under unguaranteed contracts with the Kings, but I would imagine something is going to change there after the organization reportedly landed former Indiana Pacers veteran point guard Cory Joseph on a three-year, $37 million contract. The third year is only a partial guarantee, according to Sam Amick.
Cory Joseph is a middling backup point guard offensively. His playmaking is solid, and his 3-point shot is average on good years (.356 in 2016-17, .353 in 2017-18) and poor in down years (.322 in 2018-19) but what he lacks in scoring, he more than makes up for on defense.
Numbers dump incoming:
The Indiana Pacers were a top-5ish defensive team last season by just about every metric. They gave up 107.1 points per 100 possession (4th best in the NBA) according to Cleaning The Glass. Basketball Reference has their defensive rating at 106.5 for 3rd best in the NBA. Their opponent turnover percentage was 14.1%, good for 2nd in the NBA. They were 3rd in the NBA in steals per game.
Despite how good the Pacers’ team defense was overall, they got even better with Cory Joseph on the court.
Pacers opponents’ eFG% was -1.8% (81st percentile) and shot -2.7% on 3s (81st percentile) and -4.1 points per 100 possessions (85th percentile) with Joseph on the court.
As a team, the Pacers had a +3.2 (71st percentile) efficiency differential when Joseph was on the court.
Defensive metrics are imperfect, but defense has always been Cory Joseph’s calling card, and he has the numbers, for as much as their worth, to back it up. The Kings desperately needed to add a few defensive minded players to the core rotation this summer, and in Cory Joseph, they did exactly that.
Here’s 90 seconds of Cory Joseph making plays on defense.
90 seconds of Cory Joseph making a variety of different plays on defense. The Pacers were better defensively across the board with Joseph on the court, which is saying something considering they were a top-5 defensive team last season. pic.twitter.com/QOGaHopeKZ— Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras) July 1, 2019