After adding new players such as Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph to the squad, James Ham of NBC mentioned in some articles that Sacramento was still looking for a potential fifth big for a depth signing.
Some interesting names left at the time included Tyson Chandler, JaVale McGee and Kyle O’Quinn among others, but I was expecting a little bigger market for Richaun Holmes. When my phone got an alert from Shams Charania saying Richaun Holmes signed with the Kings, I was ecstatic. I would’ve snagged Holmes over most of the bigs available at that point but because I wasn’t sure of his market, I didn’t entertain the idea of him in purple.
The Kings brought in Holmes utilizing the MLE, which situates his contract at two years, $9,748,515. His last year in Phoenix saw him getting paid $1,600,520 and with his production there off the bench, he was certainly in for a better pay day and getting him with the MLE is a great move.
Holmes played 17 minutes a game and averaged 8.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 60.8 percent shooting and is a 73.1 percent free throw shooter. Another interesting point, Holmes shot 35.1 percent from three (1.4 attempts a game) in the 2016-17 season for the 76ers but it faded away from his game. His release wasn’t terrible either, so I’m not sure why he didn’t keep working on it to become more versatile on offense.
Nowadays, the closer Holmes is to the rim, the better he gets. He practically lives around the rim when it comes to his shot selection but it’s good to see him thriving there. In the restricted area alone, Holmes was 179-249 on the season which was good for 71.9 percent. He also ranked in the 94th percentile when it came to shots around the basket excluding post-ups, scoring 1.364 points per possession, per Synergy.
Holmes is used primarily with pick-and-roll action, which makes sense for his skillset of finishing at the rim and not being a stretch big. The Suns ran 161 possessions with Holmes as the PnR big and he scored 1.255 points per possession ranking in the 82nd percentile, per Synergy.
The Kings could use Holmes ability to roll to the rim and finish in a half-court offense system even though they love to run in transition. The half-court offense had troubles operating last season and Holmes gives them a way to improve that.
Speaking of the Kings loving to run in transition, Holmes is also adept with a fast-paced offense. The Suns were above average in terms of pace and Holmes was a great player in transition. He ranked in the 98th percentile in transition, scoring 1.595 points per possession, according to Synergy. He also finished 77.1 percent of shots in the transition department.
We know how much Dave Joerger told this team to “Go, go, go!” or “Run, run, run!” and Holmes already being excellent at scoring in transition will fit right in with the Kings and perhaps could get even better playing with better players in a quicker offense.
Kings fans have forgotten what rim protection looks like and it’s because Sacramento has lacked a solid rim protector.
Holmes fits this need excellently in a backup role as he averaged 1.1 blocks a game in 17 minutes, as mentioned earlier. He also posted a block percentage of 5.6, which would be the highest on the Kings roster from the 18-19 season by two percentage points.
Holmes on the clip above switched out well onto Doug McDermott and timed the emphatic block perfectly, capping it off by going back for a staredown.
I like the help defense he provides for some of his blocks. On this play, he’s defending the non-existing offensive threat in DeAndre Jordan and is mainly focusing on Noah Vonleh, who nicely half-spun right around Dragan Bender for an easy look. However, Holmes slid right over and didn’t give him that easy look resulting in a beautiful block at the rim.
Holmes also was a tough player to score on, as he had a DIFF% of -3.4, which means he’s holding opponents to less than the league average on field goal percentage. On shots less than six feet from the rim, his DIFF% is -7.2.
One thing stats don’t measure is the hustle and energy of a player - players who give it their all every single minute on the floor. That’s what you get with Holmes on both ends of the floor and specifically I like his hustle on the offensive glass.
He’s not a standout performer on the glass but he always fights for extra possessions and goes for the ball even if it’s difficult to obtain. Like the clip above, he jumps over the positioned Jakob Poetl, strong dribbles and smoothly spins his way for a big dunk.
There’s plenty of film displaying Holmes’ ability to out-hustle his opponents and this is another great example. Setting the screen, he watches Josh Jackson miss the floater and catches Karl-Anthony Towns and Dario Saric both staring at the ball. He flies between them and puts the ball back in on the and-1 finish.
Holmes in general brings a nice offensive rebounding presence to the Kings, with an offensive rebounding percentage of 10.6. That was the second highest mark on Phoenix (min. 20 games) behind Deandre Ayton. That mark would also be the highest on the Kings (min. 20 games), with Kosta Koufos and Marvin Bagley each having 10.4 percent. He doesn’t get his offensive rebounds by boxing out, but instead just fights his way to the ball.
The King getting a depth big like Holmes for just the MLE could prove to be a beneficial move for them going forward. The 25-year-old center is just what this Kings team needs off the bench no matter the allotted minutes for him. He’ll give it his all and definitely will look like a better player with an improved roster, and playing with a real point guard in De’Aaron Fox when they share the court.
Holmes along with Joseph and Ariza brings the grit, hustle and depth needed off the bench that this team didn’t have entering last year.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Holmes becomes a fan favorite in Sacramento within a few regular season games. It won’t take long for a guy with his hustle to make an impact. The front office definitely made a great choice with all of the bigs available for depth and got one that is young, protects the rim, finishes down low and brings essential energy to the roster.