November 29, 2017, 7:25 pm
It may be time for some changes — again.
Coach Dave Joerger altered his starting lineup almost two weeks ago and during that time, the Kings’ bench has outscored the starters in five of seven games. During those seven games, Sacramento has gone 3-4 so the record isn’t a problem during the span, but the issue has been the lapses that have led to losses.
An 18-point lead against the Clippers was cut in half in just two minutes to start the third quarter of the Kings’ eventual loss on Saturday. Joerger subbed Bogdan Bogdanovic in for Garrett Temple (the rest of the starters stayed in the game), but the damage was done and the momentum was swung.
The current starting lineup for the Kings, which includes George Hill, De’Aaron Fox, Garrett Temple, Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph, has a -19.5 NetRtg over that span and the offensive production is a complete wasteland compared to some of the other lineups since Nov. 17. Of the five Kings lineups that have played 15 or more minutes together during that span, the 91.9 offensive rating from that unit is almost four points off the second worst unit and almost 10 points off the third worst unit.
Obviously, that lineup has more of a value than the rest due to the amount of playing time the unit has seen together (89 minutes during those seven games) and it’s hard to say another lineup would work better due to limited playing time; only one other lineup has played more than 40 minutes together in that same period, but that lineup (Frank Mason, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos) has put up a +16 NetRtg.
Now, a complete blowup would make little sense, since the Kings are performing much better now than at the beginning of the season, but even with the more competitive performances, three of the Kings’ four most recent losses have been by double digits. The only game the Kings lost by single digits was the Clippers game, in which they blew that huge lead. Most recently, they were destroyed by the Bucks in a game that gave Simba flashbacks.
I’m not even saying the Kings have to change the starting lineup. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t. In the first quarter, the starting unit has a NetRtg of -5. Now, that’s not the best, but it isn’t an insurmountable amount either. It’s the third quarter where the Kings are being beat. Six out of the seven games since the lineup change, the Kings have been outscored in that period.
That same lineup has a -39.1 NetRtg and a god-awful 72.9 OffRtg in 38 total 3rd quarter minutes. To be fair to that unit, most of the Kings lineups in the third period have a negative net rating, but the majority of them have played just 1-3 minutes together.
If the Kings could hover a little under a .500 record for the entire season it would be a surprise to many and for the last seven games, they’ve been on that exact track. The Kings have been outscored by 46 in the last seven games during the third quarter, and if that was under control the Kings could trend closer to that than the 20-27 wins a lot of folks think they’re headed towards.