It’s no secret that the 2019-20 Sacramento Kings are the deepest team that the franchise has had in years. They have a dozen players that are legitimately deserving of rotation minutes in the NBA. So many that dividing up minutes might actually become tricky if everyone is healthy and playing well. It’s a good problem to have.
But what does Sacramento’s depth mean, specifically? What skills are they deep in? I went though the roster to try and identify where the Kings biggest strengths will be, regardless of which set of players is on the floor at any given time.
Defending opposing point guards
Gone are the days when opposing teams could circle their games with the Kings on the schedule as opportunities to pad their stats. Elite wing initiators will still likely be able to eat against Sacramento, but then again, no one is going to consistently slow down Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or LeBron James.
But most teams that initiate their offense through the point guard position are going to have all kinds of problems with the new look Kings. In most competitive games, the Kings are expected to play only De’Aaron Fox and Cory Joseph at the one. Both are fast and fierce defenders that will pester opposing point guards to no end.
Last season, Fox recorded 1.9 steals per-36 minutes while Joseph posted 1.6. Fox’s play was good for 2.5 defensive win shares, while Joseph was good for 2.9. They each caused opposing players to shoot worse than normal from the field, affecting opposing FG% by -0.5% and -1.6%, respectively. Among all point guards that played in at least 50 games, Fox finished 14th in defensive RPM, and Joseph finished 4th. That all adds up to one of the best defensive units at the position in the league.
Three point shooting on the wing
This one feels obvious with a historically great shooter like Buddy Hield on the team, but the long range skill on this roster goes much deeper than that. Harrison Barnes, who is likely to start alongside Buddy on the wing, shot nearly 40% from three himself last season — a mark he has cleared before and could easily clear again. He’s a career 37.4% shooter on 1760 attempts.
Trevor Ariza, who is projected as the backup to Barnes, has an even longer history as an outside shooter. Ariza has shot 35.5% on over 4000 career attempts from three. It’s also worth noting that he got much better at the long ball as it became a more important part of the league in the past decade. If you look at his work from deep since 2012, Ariza has connected on 36.2% of his 3156 tries.
Projected sixth man Bogan Bogdanovic had a slight down year in 2018-19, but still holds a career three point percentage of 37.5%. And if you’re interested in his most recent sample, well, he drilled 53% of his 66 tries from deep in the FIBA World Cup this summer. And we haven’t even mentioned Yogi Ferrell, a career 37.4% shooter from distance, who will probably see a few minutes here and there as an off-ball spark plug.
Scoring with big men
In an era when defense is valued over offense for big men, the Kings truly feel stacked with guys who can put the ball in the basket at the four and the five. Dewayne Dedmon and Nemanja Bjelica take nearly half of their shots from three, causing them to be somewhat one dimensional. However, that one dimension is a very desirable in today’s NBA, and these two players are elite in that area.
Marvin Bagley III, Harry Giles, and Richaun Holmes pack even more of a scoring punch. Giles and Holmes posted over 17 points per-36 minutes last season, while Bagley was up above 21. This high powered trio does most of their work on the interior, but each has the potential to mix a little outside-in work into the Kings front court as they continue to develop.
The ability to go five deep with offensively dangerous big men might be a trait completely unique to the Kings right now. Some questions on defense remain, but their scoring prowess is something that opposing teams are going to have to adjust their game plan for every single night. The mixing and matching of shooters and rollers has the potential to stress even the best defenses in the league to the point of breaking at times this season.
What do these strengths mean?
My primary takeaway from looking at the strengths of Sacramento’s depth is that the Kings will force other teams to game plan against them for all 48 minutes. These three strengths in particular have the potential to make the opposition adjust to Sacramento, and not the other way around. If the Kings are able to use their depth to dictate the style of play in 2019-20, they can go from a team with a bright future to a team with a bright present.