The Sacramento Kings are 12-25 this season, and that record still overstates how good they are. The Kings are dead last in the NBA offensive rating (100.2 points scored per 100 possessions) and defensive rating (117.2 per 100). Sacramento has the point differential of a team that should be 8-29, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Even though this was expected to be a developmental season for the Kings and their young core, the franchise brought in veterans — George Hill, Zach Randolph, Garrett Temple — to keep things from being an outright tank job, and to mentor the young players. It hasn’t worked that way, and frustration is mounting. Here is what Temple said after the Kings blowout loss to the Hornets at home Tuesday, via James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
“We don’t guard a soul, haven’t defended a soul. If you don’t guard in the NBA, you’re going to lose every game, I don’t care who you play. We haven’t defended whatsoever, at all, point blank.” -Garrett Temple
— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) January 3, 2018
It’s also accurate.
Sacramento’s defensive issues are widespread, but they start with giving up too many easy buckets in transition — opponents start 16.4 percent of their possessions in transition (second worst in the league) and score 112.5 points per 100 possessions on those plays (worst in the league). Give up easy buckets to the opposition and the losses will pile up fast. (Stats via Cleaning the Glass.)
There have been flashes of hope in Sacramento — De'Aaron Fox has had highlight moments, Willie Cauley-Stein has played better of late, Buddy Hield is knocking down his threes (45.5 percent) — but the development process has been rough and slow. It’s understandable that the veterans are frustrated. This team should not be this bad defensively. The Kings are on a rebuilding path, that was expected, but the big questions are now if the players are making the kind of steps forward that they should? And if not, why? That’s not simply a coaching question, for the Kings it needs to be an organizational one.