Player: Richaun Holmes
Relevant stats: In his first season with the Sacramento Kings, Richaun Holmes has averaged 12.8 points per game on 65.4% shooting from the field, in addition to the 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks he’s averaged through 39 games, including 33 starts.
Contract status: Holmes signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Kings last summer. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Recap: When the Kings signed Holmes last season, they knew exactly what type of player they were getting: an athletic, high-energy big man that would compete for rebounds, block shots and be a lob threat. What they couldn’t have guessed is how much he was going to play this season.
Before the Kings signed Holmes, they signed their presumptive starting center Dewayne Dedmon, who agreed to a three-year, $40 million contract with Sacramento on June 30. In theory, Dedmon was the perfect center to play with Marvin Bagley III because of his ability to space the floor and play defense, both of which are things Bagley struggled with in his rookie season. Unfortunately for the Kings, Bagley suffered a fractured thumb on opening night, and to add insult to a literal injury, Dedmon wasn’t producing in his role.
After an 0-4 start, Luke Walton made a change to the starting lineup that moved Dedmon to the bench and Holmes to the starting lineup. While the circumstances weren’t ideal, the change was the best thing to happen to both the Kings and Holmes.
Per 36 minutes, Holmes has averaged 16 points on 65.4% shooting from the field, 10.4 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He’s also ranked sixth in the league in true shooting percentage with a career-high TS% of 68.5%, but it’s notable that the only big who’s been more efficient with a higher usage rate is Rudy Gobert.
He’s been really good, and the Kings are reaping the benefits. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Kings are 5.4 points better per 100 possessions with Holmes on the floor. The only player on the team with a higher point differential is Alex Len, who’s played 147 minutes this season.
Unsurprisingly, Holmes has enjoyed the most success when surrounded by shooters, as he’s not much of a shooter himself. Holmes hasn’t attempted a 3-pointer for the last two seasons after he attempted 152 through his first three seasons.
Future with the Kings: Holmes is only due $5 million next season, so unless the Kings believe they can get an absolute superstar by including him in a larger trade package, it’s doubtful that he’s moved, especially since he’s said he’d like to retire in Sacramento.
The question is whether or not he’ll be the starting center next season. If the answer is yes, it will be because something went terribly wrong, or very, very right. Either way, expect Holmes to play a big role on next year’s team.