The Sacramento Kings are 4-2 since head coach Luke Walton inserted Bogdan Bogdanovic into the starting lineup and moved Buddy Hield to the bench. After the Kings 113-109 victory of the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night, Walton and the players were asked about this switch and how it is working.
Here is what they had to say.
”Well, it feels like at least, we’re making more shots right now, which is still a big thing, a big influencer on how we defend. When we’re making shots we play better defense, we’ve got better energy, we’re moving around. I think De’Aaron continues to kind of find his stride after missing a big chunk of the season. I think Buddy has had some really huge games off the bench, and previously in the season we’ve gone through dry spells to score with certain units, and Buddy has had some really nice moments where he’s picked us up as a group. And Bogi, for the most part, he’s out there just making solid plays, knocking down shots when he needs to, understands where he’s at in the offense and how to run an offense so we can use him and De’Aaron a little bit off of each other. So, I think there’s a little bit of a lot of things, but we’ll continue to stay with it for now.”
”One of the things I love about Buddy is his desire to just go, non-stop, and it seems like it’s easier as a group to kind of channel that right now with that second group because with the first group a lot of what we’re trying to do is De’Aaron Fox. We need more guys that are going to just hold space and run an offense mainly through De’Aaron, and then we want to get Harrison some touches. So, there’s a lot of different things we’re trying to accomplish with that first group. When Buddy comes in, so far with the second group, we start calling most plays for him instantly as he comes on the court and then if he’s having one of those brilliant shooting nights he’s capable of having, then we just keep going with it. He’s going to stay aggressive to score no matter when he comes in the game and it’s up to us to get him the ball when he’s having those type of nights.”
”We can both play in both spots, it doesn’t matter honestly. He’s maybe better as a scorer and I’m better as a playmaker so maybe for our team it’s better right now, but we still have to figure out how to get to that next level, to have more consistent wins.”
”Obviously, it brings another level of playmaking, but I think at the same time Buddy is doing a great job for us off the bench. He’s coming in, he’s been a spark for us when we’ve needed it. The last time we played Minnesota, he’s the reason that we were in that game. I think they’re both playing well in the different roles that they have and it’s helping the team.”
The change has resulted in some short-term improvement in the flow of the offense. Bogdanovic is more of a playmaker and is able to keep the ball moving around Fox so that he can create. Hield, meanwhile, has continued to produce off the bench. In the six games he has come off the bench, he is averaging 22.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2 assists and .5 steals. His averages last season as a starter in all 82 games were: 20.7 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists an 0.7 steals. So, at least for now, the change hasn’t impacted Hield’s production much.
The system of having the first unit run through Fox completely, and then the second unit running through Hield completely if his shot is on appears to be somewhat of a success at the moment.Defensively, however, you would like the defense leading to offense, not offense leading to defense, like Walton mentioned. For now though things are clicking a little.
The Kings had lost six games in a row prior to the lineup change.