December 20, 2017, 5:21 pm
Slowly but surely the Kings offense is coming together.
Still not even halfway through the season, head coach Dave Joerger has mixed and matched, shifted and molded the lineup like a mound of wet clay. Now, the Kings are beginning to see a bit more of what they can truly do together.
It’s not easy to throw in almost 10 new players together in one offseason, but that’s exactly what the Kings have done as they’ve played four rookies and three veterans who weren’t in Sacramento to end the year last season. If Buddy Hield, who played 25 games last season with the Kings is included, that’s eight newcomers to an already unrefined roster.
And it definitely showed in the first few weeks of the season as the Kings dropped eight of their first nine. The team’s offensive rating was second worst in the league at 95.7 and their assist percentage was fourth worst at just 51.9 according to NBA.com.
When the team hit rock bottom in Atlanta it seemed a light went off that the team wasn’t as bad as the way they were playing; since then, that’s been just about proven. With wins against teams like the Blazers, Pelicans, Warriors, and most recently the Pelicans, the Kings have shown they’re capable of playing with some of the top teams in the league.
While the Kings are still just finding their bearings, there have been a variety of issues from lineup issues, minute issues and then some not-so-serious injuries that have derailed the progress the team is attempting to make.
Since that loss to the Hawks, the Kings aren’t exactly killing it with a 7-9 record, but they’ve done it more effectively and quite frankly, a lot prettier.
Since Dec. 1, the Kings have been even better on the floor, statistically. Their offensive rating has shot up to 101.8 over the last three weeks and while it’s still just 23rd best in the league, it’s a far cry from where the team was just a month before.
In addition, the Kings’ offense has produced across the board, with the bench and starters almost putting up equal amounts of points most nights.
Zach Randolph has played some fantastic basketball during the current calendar month and is averaging over 22 points per game, but he’s done it efficiently while shooting just over 16 shots per game during that span.
While Randolph has led the starting lineup, Buddy Hield has been every bit as good off the bench while putting up Sixth Man of the Year type numbers.
Hield hardly played in the team’s first game of the month, but has averaged 18 points per game in his last seven appearances. Hield is also averaging over four rebounds and is hitting three 3-pointers per game during that stretch. Hield is also shooting an incredibly impressive 49 percent in his last seven games as well.
While the scoring is what stands out for the Kings, if only because of how challenging it was for the team to score in the first month of the season, their distribution is something that’s stood out as well. The Kings are boasting the 16th best assist percentage since the first of the month at 56.5.
Sacramento had just nine games of 20 or more assists in their first 21 games. In their last nine games, the team has touched the 20-plus mark eight times.
The wins and losses are all that matters in most cases but when a team is growing together like the Kings are, small victories are worth celebrating.