November 1, 2017, 3:08 pm
“I don’t think you can make enough jumpers to win four series in a row.”
That was proclaimed by Hall of Famer Charles Barkley in 2015, just before the Warriors won the team’s first title in 40 years.
Now, going on three seasons later, teams have tried their best to emulate the foundation of the Warriors success. The Kings, however, are miles behind.
Sacramento has tried their hardest in the last few years to draft collegiate shooters, but none have translated to the professional level — American professional label, excuse me.
In the last six years, the Kings drafted Jimmer Fredette, Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas with first-round picks. None of those players remain with the Kings today.
Instead, the team has players like Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Not to say that Hield and Bogdanovic aren’t shooters; that’s primarily what they’ve done. It’s simply too early to tell, especially with Hield, if the two youngsters can shoot at the NBA level. Bogdanovic has certainly looked capable of being a go-to shooter since returning from his injury, although his three-point percentage is a bit low, hovering around 30 percent.
This season, the Kings also added 40-year-old Vince Carter, who’s averaged four 3-pointers per game in his career, to bring in a bit more shooting, but his lack of playing time hasn’t done much good.
While the Rockets lead the league with 44 three-point attempts per game, the Kings sit 29th in the league, just ahead of the Spurs in three-point attempts this season. The 22.2 attempts per game is almost half of what Houston is taking.
In today’s NBA, teams don’t just want to shoot the three ball, they have to shoot the three ball. In the past three seasons, the Warriors and Cavaliers (the two teams who have reached the NBA Finals) have each been top-five in the league in attempts per game. Does this mean three-point attempts translates into success? No. The Nets and Sixers both found themselves top-seven in the league last year and their success was hazy to say the least. But, Brooklyn was the only team in the top-five in attempts last season that didn’t reach the playoffs.
Though some may disagree, the Kings took a step in the right direction last season when they traded DeMarcus Cousins. With the deal, the Kings set themselves up to be a revamped, up-and-down kind of team, ready to embark on the new NBA style. But, the three-pointers and points haven’t come this season. In Sacramento’s last two games, they’ve attempted 36 3-pointers and have only made eight.
This Kings team hasn’t decided what they want to be, yet. They’ve had moments where they turn to Kosta Koufos on offense and that’s just not going to get it done. The team is full of young players, like Hield, Bogdanovic, Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson who can stretch the floor and can push the pace.
It’s interesting as to why coach Dave Joerger hasn’t deployed more lineups with players like Jackson stretching to the four-slot. Especially considering the combination of Randolph, Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein hasn’t added as much defensively as expected; it’s a lineup that has also struggled to form cohesion offensively.
It’s entirely too early in the season to call for drastic changes, but the offense is stagnant, out of wack and sometimes just downright dreadful. The Kings have eight different five-man lineups that have played 10 or minutes together through seven games. Of those eight, six of them have just one of the three big men mentioned earlier on the floor.
The sixth and seventh most productive lineups that have played more than 10 minutes together do, however, have Randolph and Cauley-Stein on the floor together, as shown here, but clearly the team’s best lineups are those which have a smaller, or more athletic four.
Joerger needs to make it an emphasis to run with smaller lineups with two or three shooters on the floor at all times. If the Kings were like the Spurs and had good enough offensive sets or defense to compete with three-point crazed opponents, it’d be a different story, but for now they don’t. The Kings in 1999-00 led the league in three-point shooting at 20.2 per game, but it’s a new age. It’s time to play modern era basketball.