November 10, 2017, 3:37 pm
It’s no secret that the Kings have struggled tremendously to score at times this season, and while the team probably won’t be able to solve all of their issues offensively, simple adjustments to the rotation could set the team on a path towards respectability.
The most obvious of these adjustments lies with Zach Randolph – largely because Sacramento’s offense becomes nearly non-existent with him on the floor.
Through the team’s first 11 games, the Kings have shot 40.9% overall, 31.6% from three-point range, and are committing 17 turnovers per-100 possessions against just 18.7 assists.
With Randolph off the floor, the team shoots a much more reasonable 46% from the floor, 40% from behind the arc and are generating 21.9 assists per-100 possessions against 14.4 turnovers.
Looking at Randolph’s individual stats wouldn’t lead you to believe that he’s part of the problem. Randolph currently leads the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game, and he’s doing that while shooting 45.9% overall.
The issue is that Randolph puts up fine numbers, but the offense tends to slow down as soon as he enters the game.
The Kings have been attempting to run the offense through Zach Randolph to start games, something that opposing defenses seem entirely prepared for.
Below you can see two examples of this from the Oklahoma City game. In both cases the ball movement entirely stops with Randolph and it results in an easy steal:
In the next video you can see how easy it is for Andre Roberson to see where the pass is going before picking it off:
Slowing down the offense with Randolph isn’t necessarily a problem by itself, the issue is that we don’t have the right players to play that style of offense.
With so many athletes on the team, we should be striving to push the pace and keep the ball moving.
Beyond the lack of production, the team has also neglected to develop Skal Labissiere, one of the most talented young players on the roster.
If you watched Skal Labissiere at Kentucky, you will know that confidence and rhythm are two big keys for him.
Labissiere was asked to play a role that did not emphasize his strengths under John Calipari, and as a result he was regularly moved down the depth chart as his overall numbers declined.
Watching Labissiere over the last few games, it’s easy to see the similarities.
Since the team’s game against the Pistons on November 4th, Labissiere has seen an unusual decline in production. Over those four games, he is shooting 25% from the field, while averaging an alarming 5.5 turnovers and 20 fouls per-100 possessions.
Labissiere looks like a player that’s fighting to stay in the rotation, and considering how well he was playing to start the season, this should be a big concern for the team.
Dave Joerger has cited matchup issues as the reason that Labissiere is not seeing the floor, but this explanation just does not seem to make sense.
Labissisere is not a great defender on the perimeter, and he has struggled at times dealing with small-ball power forwards, but his defense is a definite upgrade over Randolph’s.
With Labissiere on the court this season, opponents are shooting 42.6% overall compared to 46.2% when he leaves. Opponents also shoot just 34% from three-point range with Labissiere in the game – that number jumps to 40.5% when he sits.
While some of this can be credited to a small sample size and the play of his teammates, the overall point remains that the team has not struggled to defend when Labissiere is in the game.
Given the information above, it’s still unclear why Labissiere has suddenly been buried in the rotation. His play has certainly declined, but that appears to be more of a product of the demotion than an explanation for it.
Regardless of the explanation, Dave Joerger needs to find ways to get Labissiere on the court. The team will be better off for it, but more importantly it will get the development of Labissiere back on track.