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30Q: How good will the bench be?

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It’s a deeper core than how last season started.

Kimani Okearah

Sacramento’s bench last season was one of the better scoring groups in the entire league, ranking 5th among all benches in points per game. Their 42.7 points a game ranked better than many Western Conference playoff teams, including the Spurs, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets and more. This summer, it’s arguable that the Kings bench got even better.

It’s certainly crucial to have a dependable, deep bench that has around 3-4 guys that you can count on to immediately contribute if the starters are lacking the punch. For teams like Golden State, with four All Star caliber players, having an outstanding bench wasn’t absolutely necessary nor did they have the cash to have one. But when it came down the final games of the playoffs and those stars suffered through injuries, they didn’t have the reliable players required to take down their opponents.

With the Kings, expectations weren’t deemed high but those shattered when Sacramento made noise all season as one of the most surprising teams surrounded with young talent that competed with the league’s best.

Now the Kings definitely didn’t have quality depth across the board to elevate them into playoff contention. Iman Shumpert started 40 games at small forward during his Sacramento tenure because Justin Jackson struggled to gain consistency.

The Kings had a backup point guard dilemma that took some time to figure out but eventually Yogi Ferrell took the backup lead to De’Aaron Fox over Frank Mason’s rough performances.

Harry Giles failed to keep himself on the court for a while so the Kings would use a center who didn’t mesh with their uptempo system - obviously that didn’t work out with Kosta Koufos.

The two best backups in Sacramento were Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley, a second year guard and the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Even they missed a combined 32 games, with Bogdanovic recovering from an injury to start the season and Bagley missing a total of 20 games from injuries picked up throughout the long haul of the season.

A quick numbers dump from last year’s bench:

- PPG: 5th (42.7)

- FGM: 2nd (16.4)

- FG%: 4th (45.9)

- REB: 6th (18.2)

- OREB: t-5th (4.7)

- Personal Fouls Drawn: 4th (8.7)

They also ranked in the top 10 in terms of steals, assists and defensive rebounds to name a few.

Factoring in the off season acquisitions that will have a bench role, Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza and Richaun Holmes are all improvements over the depths in their respective positions a season ago. Add them to the bench anchor in Bogdan Bogdanovic, (most likely) Nemanja Bjelica who will have to be critical since Bagley should start now and Yogi Ferrell as the third point, this appears to be a great unit to relieve pressure for the starters when called on.

Joseph is an upgrade with playmaking alongside Bogi but doesn’t offer great shooting. However, Ferrell is there if necessary with a 36 percent clip from deep last season. We don’t know Ariza will pan out in Sacramento just yet, but he’s a capable and versatile backup that won’t demand the ball too much with this roster. Holmes will be a constant energy all over the floor and all of these guys are upgrades over the depth last year.

Sacramento’s bench last year ranked high in many categories and that also related to the play of Bogi and Bagley. But with all of the outgoing players in the summer, the Kings did a fine job replacing them and look better on paper. This should be one of the better units in the league.