December 4, 2016, 11:57 am
Following a disappointing loss to the Celtics, the Sacramento Kings head down to New York for a Sunday night game against the Knicks. The Kings will need a win tonight in order to have a record on the road trip better than .500.
New York completely revamped their roster this offseason, adding Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee while also keeping their core of Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony. Opinions on how these changes would affect the team were fairly split, but a 10-9 start has shown that real improvement has already been made. There is plenty of talent on this roster, so Sacramento will be challenged in plenty of ways during this matchup.
Here are some notes heading into the game:
- While Sacramento has struggled this season on the defensive end, the team appears to have turned that around some on current road trip. The team has a Defensive rating of 98.3 during the trip, good for fifth in the NBA over that period. What has really hurt them during this stretch is their offense, a trend that is not likely to continue. Changes to the rotation could help boost their efficiency on this end as well.
- Slow starts have plagued this group, and as they continue to pile up it gets less and less likely that it’s just an anomaly. Garrett Temple would be a huge boost defensively, and Casspi’s floor spacing and cutting ability could be a great look next to Cousins. Given the matchup tonight, Casspi likely wouldn’t be the right pick in this one, but would be a good option moving forward. Temple’s versatility makes him a good options in every game, so it will be interesting to see if the team makes a change like that Sunday.
- Kristaps Porzingis can present some real problems for teams, so a smaller lineup could be hard to justify in this one, at least to start out. Willie Cauley-Stein appears to be a great fit on paper given his size and mobility, but the young big man has struggled to find his way this season, and as a result he has been in and out of the rotation. Koufos may not have what it takes to keep up with Porzingis on the perimeter, so giving Cauley-Stein the nod here may be a gamble worth taking, at least to start out.
- Kosta Koufos logged just over nine minutes in the team’s last game, and as was mentioned above, the mobility of Boston’s big men could have been a factor. Koufos is a much better fit playing center when Cousins needs a break, and Dave Joerger may be beginning to react to that. Joerger has some familiarity with Koufos, so the extended looks early in the season are somewhat understandable, but it is clear that changes were necessary.
Sacramento has put together some good games this season, but at 7-13 the team needs to start turning more of those into wins. Adjusting to new players and a new head coach can take time, but after twenty games there should be some sort of foundation already laid out. There seems to be some easy adjustments that this group can make to improve right now, so hopefully some of those changes can start in this game.