The Sacramento Kings are about to become must-watch television.
In the wake of the unexpected firing of head coach Mike Malone, who will be replaced by Tyrone Corbin for the time being, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Kings are thought to be considering the use of some revolutionary strategies. Well, owner Vivek Ranadive is pondering the use of some cherry-picking systems, and that means the new head coach is going to employ them, via Wojnarowski:
The owner played the part of a fantasy league owner, treating the Kings like a science experiment. He shared tactical experiences with Malone about coaching his child's youth team, and pressed him to consider playing four-on-five defense, leaking out a defender for cherry-picking baskets. Some semblance of that strategy is expected to be employed with Corbin now, a source told Yahoo Sports.
If you're looking for the definition of "radical" in the NBA, here you have it.
We've seen Ranadive try to push the envelope with technology before—the "Kings Go Glass" video up above serves as just one example—but this is new. This is allowing that desire to innovate to seep over to the on-court efforts.
For what it's worth, Grantland's Zach Lowe reported earlier this year that Sacramento was thinking about having its D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, experiment in the same vein:
The Kings are going to be entertaining! Owner Vivek Ranadivé has pitched the idea to the team's brain trust of playing 4-on-5 defense and leaving one player to cherry-pick, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The Kings aren't actually going to do that, but their D-League might, and it shows Ranadivé is committed to pushing boundaries in his search for an offbeat brand of 'position-less' ball.
Reno has been setting three-point records and employing a frantic full-court press, but there's no telling whether that team still plans on getting even more innovative. It's been experimental enough under Ranadive's supervision.
Now, back to Sacramento.
It's already hard enough for teams to play defense against the high-powered offenses of the modern-day NBA. The Kings, for example, are allowing 107.3 points per 100 possessions during this 2014-15 season, via Basketball-Reference.com, and that gives them the No. 20 mark in the league.
How high would that number rise if the Kings actually followed through and played four-on-five basketball? Is it possible they could post a defensive rating around 150 and rely on huge offensive improvements in order to compensate for the dramatic shift?
It's one of many questions that surround this unique choice of strategy.
How long will coaches put up with a tinkering and meddlesome owner, especially when they don't have the luxury of surviving a trial period? If Malone is going to be fired after steering Sacramento back into respectability, there's no telling what will happen if a signal-caller tries out a new strategy and it takes time to work.
More in the realm of X's and O's, who's going to be the cherry-picking player? DeMarcus Cousins has to hang around to rebound, and it seems best to have whoever's playing power forward operating on the other end of the court while the smaller players flit around the perimeter. And will that non-defending player be prepared to leak out while actually taking up space in the defensive set, or will he never even cross half court?
Has the Kings owner accounted for the adjustments that an opposing coach might make? If there's a cherry-picking threat, it wouldn't be that hard for the other team to assign one player to sprint back to the other end of the court as soon as a shot is lifted up, and that takes the advantage away right from the get-go.
Right now, there are lots of questions and absolutely no answers. The whole idea seems...interesting?
"I'm not saying Ranadive is crazy, but when stuff like this comes out, he looks crazy," James Herbert of CBS Sports wrote. "And nobody wants to be involved with a franchise that has an owner trying to push gimmicks on the coaching staff. Twenty-four hours ago, it seemed like Sacramento was headed in the right direction, but now the organization as a whole appears extremely dysfunctional."
But there's no denying how entertaining this experiment would be even if it quickly proved a failure.
Good luck, Mr. Corbin.