Reaching for Royalty: Five Stats the Kings Must Improve Next Season
The Kings have loaded up their front court this offseason as they prepare to take another step toward configuring a playoff-bound squad.
In order to achieve their eventual goal of reaching the postseason, several major deficiencies must be addressed.
Sacramento’s general manager, Geoff Petrie has made several notable acquisitions, trading for Samuel Dalembert and grabbing rookies Hassan Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins to answer some of these needs.
Moving forward, Petrie must fill the other voids to turn weaknesses into strengths.
5. Points Allowed
Last season the Kings ranked 25th in the league in points allowed at 104.4 points per game, while only scoring 100 points themselves.
Defense must become a top priority for this team to eventually make the playoffs.
Last season the King’s defensive rotation and help side was the glaring chink in the chain. Too often the Kings gave up easy buckets, failing to challenge opponent’s shots around the rim.
This was partly because of the lack of athletisism of last year's starting center, Spencer Hawes. It should be a different story this season if Hassan Whiteside and Sam Dalembert have anything to do with it.
The Kings must find their defensive identity if they ever want to get back to the playoffs.
As previously mentioned, the Kings gave up way too many easy buckets last season in large part because of turnovers.
The Kings ranked 23rd last season averaging 15 turnovers a game.
This is expected when a rookie dominates the ball as Tyreke Evans did last year. Going forward next season, Evans must set the example of valuing the basketball and committing less turnovers to ensure more team success.
Last season the Kings showed good defensive effort at times but definitely have room to grow with their backs to the basket. They ranked 21st in the NBA, averaging 6.9 steals per game and will need to raise that average in order to produce more quick scoring opportunities.
This is another category that Tyreke Evans can lead by example.
Evans was the Kings' lead pick pocket last season, averaging 1.5 steals per game. But he possesses the strength and speed to up that number to two steals per contest if he fully applies himself the defensive end.
Guard Beno Udrih was the only other King to average over one steal per game. For the Kings to reach the next level, there must be a cultural change to a more aggressive, defensive focus.
2. Free Throws
How many close games were lost last season because of poor free throw shooting? The answer? Too many.
The Kings came in third to last in the 2009-10 campaign, bricking their way to a Western Conference worst 72.6 percent.
Omri Casspi and Donte Greene were the main culprits, shooting 67 percent and 64 percent from the charity stripe, respectively.
Both players will attack the rim and will get fouled at a high rate this upcoming season, so solid foul line shooting is essential. In order for the Kings to win close games, there must be a collective improvement at the line.
1. Shot Blocking
The Kings have been lacking in the blocks department for some years now, and last season was no different averaging only 4.5 blocks per game.
They ranked 23rd out of 30 teams last year, but now have reason for hope. The upcoming 2010-11 season brings very high expectations, especially in this statistical category. Expect the Kings to finish as one of the top three shot blocking teams in the NBA, and to be lead by Hassan Whiteside and Sam Dalembert.
Sacramento will have possibly the biggest and strongest front court it has ever had.
Whiteside, Dalembert, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, DeMarcus Cousins, and Donte Greene, together bring size and athleticism that even the NBA’s elite teams will have trouble matching up against.
This coming season, this young group of big men should be able make their way into the Sacramento Kings record books for their shot blocking efforts.