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30Q: Can the Kings be even better on offense?

After a record-setting offensive season, do the Kings have an opportunity to be even better?
By | 9 Comments | Sep 4, 2023

Dec 4, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) looks to shoot the ball during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings set the NBA’s all-time record for offensive rating in 2022-23, finishing with an ORTG of 119.4, over a full point higher per 100 possessions than the previous record. The Kings were an electric offensive spectacle, with Domantas Sabonis’ passing, De’Aaron Fox’s 4th-quarter takeovers, and elite shooting all around them. So while some may be thinking about how to improve a defense around that offense, I choose instead to wonder if the Kings can be even better next season?

First, let’s look at league context. NBA offenses are improving every years, through a combination of player skills, optimized three point shooting, and rules limiting defense. Of the 10 best single-season offensive ratings in league history, 5 of them were accomplished by teams last season. The remainder of the top 5 is rounded out by teams in the 2020-21 season.

The second factor is the changes in personnel this summer. The Kings, notably, opted primarily for continuity, with changes coming only in the depth of the bench. The two most notable subtractions, in terms of minutes-played last season, were Terence Davis and Chimezie Metu, players who were essentially replaced by Sasha Vezenkov and Chris Duarte. We don’t know for certain that Vezenkov will be better than Metu, but it feels likely. Metu had a solid offensive rating overall last season at 124, but was inconsistent. Vezenkov’s shooting is expected to translate, and should provide a bigger offensive threat than Metu’s 23.7% from beyond the arc. And while Terence Davis was capable of some electric and explosive games, he was also inconsistent. His season-long offensive rating was just 106, surprisingly low. Duarte’s has been similarly low in his two season in the NBA, at 104 as a rookie and 101 last season.

I should point out that individual offensive ratings are a very flawed stat, even over the course of a full season. They speak as much to what’s happening around that player as they speak to the individual player themselves. So why even bring them up? Because it’s Labor Day and it’s the closest thing I have to a catch-all metric for offensive impact and evaluating how offseason moves could impact the team as a whole. The metrics are flawed, I am flawed, leave me alone and get back to your barbecue.

Can the Kings be even better this coming season on offense? Shockingly, I believe the answer is yes. The real question is whether that’s the best path forward. If the Kings couldn’t find a player or players on the market to significantly improve their defense, then there’s a logic to pushing the envelope even more towards your area of strength. The offense should once again be fun and exciting to watch, the real question remaining will be whether it’s enough to offset Sacramento’s defense.

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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 4, 2023 12:59 pm

It will all come down to the health of Sabonis. The Kings are dead in the water without him at the hub of the offense. I feel Sasha is definitely an upgrade over Metu and Duarte will prove to be better than TD. Looking at Duarte’s stats, he excelled when playing with Sabonis in Indy. His production fell off a cliff once Sabonis was traded. Let’s hope they can rekindle some of their chemistry.

In the end, the amount of quality shooters and cutters surrounding Sabonis will be the key to Kings being even better on offense.

Jack
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September 4, 2023 1:23 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I agree with Adamsite on all counts. Not just Sabonis’s health bur possibly Fox Murray and lesser Huerter or Monk. IMO health is number 1 but also playing together after the first year is a big factor. Improvement is another. If players like Huerter Mitchell and Duarte can even up their 3 point percentages by say 1 to 2 points that would be a big factor. I also need to include Fox in that catagory. Bringing over Vezenkov IMO will really help the offense. Put all of these factors together I IMO the Kings will exceed most of what the players coaches and fans hope for.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 4, 2023 2:45 pm
Reply to  Jack

As it’s been said multiple times on this site. Fox is the best player but Sabonis is the most important player.

The Kings need Fox to score. If he goes down for any time, others may be able to mitigate his absence. Huerter, Monk, Barnes, Keegan, and now Sasha can tick up their shots/scoring per game. Monk and Mitchell can platoon the PG duties, but if Sabonis goes down, we are looking at significant minutes to the likes of Len, Noel, and/or McGee. None are able to replicate what Sabonis brings.

The Kings are deep at position, but not at role. Sabonis is unique in what he brings to the team. No too many teams have a player that leads the team in assists and rebounds while also being their second leading scorer.

Jack
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September 4, 2023 3:48 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I agree with you. We can replace anyone if we have to but Sabonis is the one who runs the show. I also agree if Sabonis goes down we have nobody that can fill his role.

murraytant
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September 4, 2023 5:01 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Agree. Offense and offensive rating could be better due to better shooting percentages, growing from more weapons to guard.
I cringed when Metu shot. Now I won’t have to. I prayed for good TD, not bad TD. Now that is gone

and despite that I think Holmes is the better player, JaVale and Nerlens are better fits on D.

SavageBeast
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September 4, 2023 3:15 pm

It’s Labor Day, Greg. Have a beer and a mostly meaningless stat. But I love reading it anyway!

UpgradedToQuestionable
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September 4, 2023 3:39 pm

You can quote statistics, but historically, I found last season’s Kings team to be one of the least offensive in memory.

murraytant
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September 4, 2023 4:59 pm

and I spent more time defending them.

aplumley
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September 5, 2023 4:05 pm

I declare that Sasha will make the Kings the best offense of all time. I just don’t see any other way to look at it.

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