It would be an oversimplification of the NBA and its complexities to say that the Sacramento Kings have won when they’ve shot the three well and lost when they haven’t shot it well. But for the most part, that has been the case through six games this season for Sacramento.
Last week, in the team’s comeback victory over the Phoenix Suns, the three-ball was the Kings’ best friend. Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and company made 11 of 21 (52.4%) from three in the second half and were the main reason for the team erasing an early deficit and stealing a difficult road win.
Against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday however, the script flipped completely as the team’s three-point shooting was absent. The team shot an abysmal 7 of 36 (19.4%) from distance in the game against the Mavs and continued to put them up all game despite the struggles. Even with the entire team, being ice cold from distance, the Kings still had chances to steal the game down the stretch.
The Kings currently sit at 12th in the league in three-point attempts and 17th in three-point makes, both numbers that put them around the middle of the pack. When you dive into individual guys on the roster, it seems likely that there should be major room to improve in this regard.
Hield and Barnes are both shooting the lights out at 40.3% and 45.5% respectively, but everyone else on the roster has been shooting below their career averages from three.
Guys like Terrence Davis, De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Davion Mitchell are all shooting aggressively bad from distance so far, getting a lot of open looks and just unable to connect on them. All of these guys have shown over a larger sample size the ability to be solid shooters in Haliburton's case to at least be solid in Davis and Mitchell’s case.
Given the minuscule six-game sample size we have to look at, I’d expect some of these guys to revert to close to their career norms from a distance as the season continues on and help the team be a little more consistent shooting the ball.
The more concerning thing is that it doesn’t seem like the team has much of an offensive backup plan if the threes aren’t falling, as evidenced by the offensive slug of a game the Kings had against the Mavericks.
With the three-point shot being such a high variance shot for teams from game to game, I would expect this sort of uneven play by the team to persist on some level. The question is, will the Kings be able to find ways to win when the threes don’t fall?