Sunday, February 5, 2012

It is painful to watch the Sacramento Kings ... most of the time

Based on their 8 wins and 15 losses, the Kings are not the worst team in the NBA. That distinction goes to the 3-21 Charlotte Bobcats. Nice job, Michael Jordan. However, if you look deeper into their numbers, Sacramento is probably the worst team in the Western Conference and the third worst club overall. They can play competitively against the other bad teams. They almost always get blown out by the top 15 clubs in the NBA.

Last night at home, the Kings played very well ... against the 8-13 Golden State Warriors. It was, for a Kings game, unusually good to watch. It was back and forth all the way. It finished with a Sacramento victory in overtime. It's too bad that the Kings can't just play the other bad teams.

Most nights, the Kings are just pathetic. Of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Kings have the lowest field goal percentage (.404). They are tied with Utah for the worst 3-point percentage (.293). They are in the lower third as free throw shooters (.737). They are, by a long way, the worst team in the NBA in assists (372, which is far below Chicago's league-leading 587). They have just one more block (94) than the league-worst Detroit Pistons. They are 10th worst in turning the ball over (370).

Only five clubs have allowed more made baskets. Only three teams give up a higher percentage of shots made. They are the second worst team in the NBA in allowing the other team to get offensive rebounds on them and 11th worst in allowing defensive rebounds. Sacramento is 5th worst in both giving up assisted baskets and allowing steals against them.

The argument that they are the worst team in the Western Conference is based on a metric called the Simple Rating System. It "takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule." The average team in the SRS will have a rating of 0. Better than zero is better than average. The Kings have an SRS rating of -7.59. That is well worse than the -3.26 SRS rating of New Orleans, despite the Hornets team record of 4 wins and 20 losses.

The one bright spot for the Kings is that they are young. They average 24.5 years of age, third youngest in the NBA.

They have a talented, but inconsistent and emotionally imbalanced power forward in DeMarcus Cousins. If he does not lose his mind entirely, Cousins (age 21) will one day be an All-Star.

Their other most notable player is Tyreke Evans (age 22). Unfortunately, Evans does not appear to be getting any better since his rookie season. If anything, he is worse. He plays very poor defense and he cannot shoot the basketball. His FG% has declined each year since he came out of college. He also is injury prone.

The Kings added rookie Jimmer Fredette to their roster this year (trading for him on draft day). It looks like Fredette, who was a high scorer in college, will be a bust. He cannot defend anyone, and he has trouble making his shots. He is among the worst rookies in the NBA this year in a metric called Win Shares per 48 minutes played.

To improve, the Kings need to add a competent center. Last year they had that in Samuel Dalembert, but they did not resign him. His replacement has been Chuck Hayes, and Hayes is just not nearly as good. They also need a new small forward or shooting guard who shoots for a high percentage and plays defense.

My advice is they trade away Evans and Fredette. Maybe Utah, where Fredette played his college ball at BYU, would give up somebody for Jimmer?

As this group ages, it is inevitable that they will get better. But without a significant change in personnel, the Kings are not building toward a playoff team. They are likely to move up from the 15th worst of the 15 teams in the Western Conference to maybe the 10th or 9th worst.

It's not a pretty picture for Kings fans.

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