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Mid-season Grades: Centers and Coaches

The crew gathered together to hand out some grades.

The Sacramento Kings are halfway through their rollercoaster of a season, and we've gathered the crew together to go through some player and coaching staff grades. On Monday we took on the guards, on Tuesday we graded the team's forwards, and today's session will include centers and coaching staff. Let's dive right in!

Richaun Holmes


Tim
: A

Richaun Holmes is pretty damn good, especially for a guy getting paid just $5 million this season. In fact, I would propose that any contender outside of the Sixers and Jazz (Lakers, Bucks, Nets, Clippers) would become the instant favorite if they were to add Holmes to their roster - that's how effective he would be for a playoff team come postseason time. On the year, he's scoring an incredible 1.37 points per possession in the pick-and-roll, good enough for the 90th percentile, and he's been even better in transition, scoring 1.47 PPP, ranking in the 94th percentile. Add into that mix solid rebounding, good, if unspectacular rim protection, and a killer push-shot that can't be stopped, and you have an incredibly impressive season from a guy who was struggling to get rotational minutes just a couple of seasons ago.

Tony: A

Richaun Holmes was spectacular for the Kings last season, but I wondered if his strong play was sustainable. Was Holmes really that good? How did he go unnoticed and underutilized for so long?

Holmes has answered all my questions this year. He's a tremendous role playing center, and an absolute bargain for what the Kings are paying him this season. He should get a nice pay bump in free agency this summer, and I hope it's from Monte McNair and the Kings. I think he can be a part of the solution here with De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. The jury is still out on Marvin Bagley, but I think the Kings have three players in Fox, Haliburton, and Holmes that I'd like to see remain in Sacramento for some extended period of time. I'd add Harrison Barnes to that short list, but I think it's possible that his trade value is so high league-wide that the assets received will be worth the player sent out.

Brenden: A

It is hard to not remain impressed with Richaun Holmes. He is currently sitting at 2nd across the league in field goal percentage (65.1 percent) and as Doug Christie says, the push shot's patent has now been approved.

He is far and away the best defensive center on Sacramento's roster, even though some of that has to do with who is replacing him. He still remains foul prone, partially due to horrible perimeter containment from the rest of the roster, but he has displayed some switchability this year as well and I believe he has an argument for being a top-15 center in the league. Unless Monte McNair has a deal he can't turn down at this deadline, I would expect the Kings to re-sign Holmes this coming offseason as they should with how he came into his own in Sacramento.

Greg: A

What more could you want from Richaun Holmes? Plays within his role? Check. Efficient offensive player? Check. Solid defense? Check. Energy? Check. Value to contract? Check.

Giving Holmes an A is as automatic as his push shot.

Hassan Whiteside

Tim: C

I didn't expect much from Hassan Whiteside when he joined the Kings on a minimum deal, and he hasn't done much to meet or not meet those low expectations. His rebounding and rim protections numbers are as fantastic as one would expect from a player of his skillset, but Whiteside's inability to move laterally or defend more than two feet away from the rim, and his recent descent into a Zach Randolph territory of hops, has really limited his effectiveness on the court. A team could do a lot worse than Hassan Whiteside as their backup center, but they could also do a lot better. Complete meh.

Tony: C

Hassan Whiteside will put up numbers if Hassan Whiteside gets minutes, but his production is largely fruitless. The Kings are terrible when he's on the court (not entirely his fault as the whole second unit minus Haliburton has been bad) and his game is incredibly frustrating to watch at times. He hasn't been terrible, but he's been nothing more than €˜fine' and in my opinion a downgrade from what Alex Len gave you off the bench last season.

Brenden: C-

I think this mainly has to do with what your expectations were for Whiteside coming into the year - mine were minimal. He has probably produced at about a minimum value, which is what he signed for this offseason.

He has fallen out of the rotation for stretches this season, because for the most part he is not a positive on the floor. It's nice to be able to place a pure rim protector out there in specific matchups, but I will always prefer his minutes go to Marvin Bagley or Chimezie Metu when healthy. Hassan Whiteside is a total non-factor for me.

Greg: C

I had very low expectations for Whiteside, and he has pretty much done what I expected. He's sometimes useful, sometimes not, and you never know which you're getting. His teammates seem to like him, he doesn't cause off-court issues, it's all very "meh" for me. I don't mind him being here on a minimum contract, I also won't mind when he's gone.

Chimezie Metu

Tim: C

Chimezie Metu was a complete mystery to me heading into the season, and he kind of remains a complete mystery to me. I'm glad that he showed enough to not completely get played off of the floor in his few minutes, a la Justin James, but he also didn't necessarily convert me into a believer either. He's been very okay for a two-way player filling in due to injuries.

Brenden: C+

I had not seen a single minute of Chimezie Metu coming into this season and was unsure if he was an NBA player. At very least, Metu gave it his all during his time on the floor and displayed some intriguing shooting potential.

Tony: C+

We didn't see a lot of them, but I liked most of the Chimezie Metu minutes this season. If it weren't for a dirty play by Jonas Valanciunas, he may have passed Hassan Whiteside in the rotation by now. Metu appears to be a good athlete and a decent finisher with a nice touch on his jumper. He plays hard, tries to defend and block shots, so I remain intrigued. I don't know if he gets a look beyond this season, so I'm hopeful that when he's healthy, those backup center minutes go right to him. I'm not certain that he's an NBA player, but I don't think we've seen enough to determine that one way or another.

I would certainly not mind keeping Metu on the roster as the third string center and see what he has. His hand situation is obviously unfortunate (Sacramento hasn't forgotten Jonas Valanciunas), and it would be great to see him in the second half of the year. There may be a high-energy rim running big man with potential as a shooter and maybe passable rim protection.

He also may not be an NBA player in a few years, but I am slightly intrigued from the few stretches he was on the floor.

Greg: C

Metu has flashes where he looks good, and stretches where he's still very raw. It says something about Metu that we considering his injury a setback for the team's depth. Whether that says more about Metu or more about the rest of the Kings roster is up to you to decide, but it's probably more of the latter. Nonetheless, he's been solid for a guy on a Two-way contract.

Luke Walton


Tim
: D

Luke Walton is not a good NBA head coach. He proved that in Los Angeles and he's now proven that in Sacramento. After this season, or whenever he's let go, I won't be surprised if he never gets another shot as a head coach again. He also hasn't been bad at everything this year, hence my D grade.

I know my fellow writers and commenters will almost certainly focus on the bad, and there's a lot of it, especially on the defensive end, but I'll take a moment to point out some of the good. First, Walton's immediate dependence on Tyrese Haliburton may feel obvious due to the rookie's level of play, but there are plenty of NBA head coaches who would not be operating with the same level of trust, including our beloved Dave Joerger. There has also been a highly complimentary adjustment made to Harrison Barnes' game. We've all noticed his offensive game rise to another level this season, and a lot of that has to do with his newfound role as a key initiator and scorer in Sacramento's offense. On the year, Barnes is driving the ball 8.3 times per game, a 35% increase year over year, and that has resulted in HB increasing his scoring from 14.5 points to 16.7 per game this season. Also, please fire Luke Walton.

Tony: C-

Luke Walton is a tough one to grade, and it was made even tougher following a recent report from Sam Amick and Jason Jones in The Athletic claiming that Walton has essentially done everything Monte McNair has asked of him this season. Do I think Walton is a good NBA coach? Not really. Do I think his roster kinda sucks? Yeah. Do I think they should have (statistically) the worst defense of all-time? No. Do I think the Kings were trying to win this season? Considering how they handle the Bogdan Bogdanvoic match, I don't.

How do you grade Walton under those circumstances? He hasn't (reportedly) lost the locker room. There hasn't been any big internal drama. There were no expectations for the Kings to be better than they have been, so I'm going with a €˜C-' here. I think he'll be appropriately let go at the end of the season so Monte McNair can find his guy, and I think everyone in the organization kind of knows all signs are pointing in that direction, so the Luke Walton situation is what it is. He's been a serviceable tank commander and kept the peace, and I look forward to a different coach on the sidelines for the Sacramento Kings next season.

Brenden: D+

I don't think that Walton deserves all the blame for the Kings shortcomings this season, and he didn't deserve all the praise during the stretch of seven of eight wins. My issue with Walton is that I can't point to one circumstance where I feel like he has optimized a player, but there are a few where he has misused talent on the roster.

Maybe his freelance scheme could work with already high-IQ, talented players across the roster, but he is certainly not an ideal coach for a young and developing team. He seems to be an offensive focused coach, but it's hard to not question if the offensive growth of this team is simply due to Fox's jump, the addition of Tyrese Haliburton, and maybe the presence of Alvin Genty. The roster is not talented enough to make a real playoff push this season, but Walton certainly does not put his players in ideal circumstances.

If the idea is to develop talent, then why is Marvin Bagley not playing more? Why was Glenn Robinson III favored over DaQuan Jeffries? Cory Joseph over Kyle Guy? It's hard to gauge who is specifically making these decisions, but overall I do not think Walton is a good coach and this season has done nothing to change my mind.

Greg: C-

Walton isn't the solution to any of Sacramento's problems, but he's also not the only cause of Sacramento's problems. The players seem to like playing for him, but the players also check out for long stretches while playing for him. I suspect some of why players like Walton is that he doesn't hold them accountable, but that's just my personal speculation.

Giving credit where it's due, this team has a very real offensive system and you couldn't say that before Walton arrived. On the other hand, they have the worst defense in NBA history, and that also wasn't true before Walton arrived. Walton probably catches more blame than he deserves in some areas, and less blame than he deserves in others. That feels like a low C to me.

 

 

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RobHessing
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March 10, 2021 1:50 pm

There is no D in Walton.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
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March 10, 2021 2:02 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

There’s also no F’s…
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Last edited 1 year ago by Klam
RobHessing
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March 10, 2021 2:27 pm
Reply to  Klam

Fluke Walton.

Ialmostmissthemaloofs
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March 10, 2021 2:43 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

F Luke Walton?

Ialmostmissthemaloofs
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March 10, 2021 2:43 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I see what you did there…

1951
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March 10, 2021 2:47 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

There is a Luke in Lucrative Pay Off though!

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
March 10, 2021 1:52 pm

If Kye Guy got an incomplete so far, and Metu has played even less, then I think he should get an incomplete as well. Other than that, spot on the grades and analysis by all.

Greg
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March 10, 2021 2:00 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Although these grades are very scientific, they are not an exact science.

andy_sims
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March 10, 2021 2:07 pm
Reply to  Greg

It’s so-called Intelligent Design for hoops. Feels sciency unless you know the slightest thing about science.

ajon_es
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March 10, 2021 1:53 pm

Blow it up, Monte!

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RobHessing
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March 10, 2021 1:55 pm
Reply to  ajon_es

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Klam
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March 10, 2021 2:01 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

“Hey, how’s that Kings team looking these days?”
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RobHessing
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March 10, 2021 2:05 pm
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Jman1949
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March 10, 2021 2:09 pm
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TheGrantNapear
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March 10, 2021 2:08 pm
Reply to  ajon_es

Whiteside, Buddy, Barnes and Nemanja should not be on this team two weeks from now.

Adamsite
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March 10, 2021 2:11 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Agreed, and I’d respectfully add Holmes if the Kings are truly blowing it up for future assets. There is nothing stopping the Kings from re-signing him this summer.

andy_sims
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March 10, 2021 2:05 pm

Pretty solid takes, although given Whiteside’s excellent-value contract, I would probably put him at a C+/B-. His per 36 numbers remain good, and he usually produces when he gets more than short stretches of floor time. As ever, I take issue with the notion of empty stats (save when a guy keeps missing layups to get rebounds for a triple-double). A rebound is a rebound, and your team either gets possession, or maintains it. A basket is points, which is the only stat that determines which team wins. I’m not arguing to re-sign him, but it’s been commonplace to dismiss his contributions, which always seems to stem from the player he was on his first stint in Sacramento.

Fanyway, fif fwe’re ftalking fabout fgrades ffor fcoaches, Fi freally fhave fnothing fto fadd.

MyNeighborTurturro
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March 10, 2021 2:20 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Well, all losing teams occasionally notch a few wins, so I get the non-failing grades. But fi fsee fwhat fyou fdid fthere, and I agree.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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March 10, 2021 2:13 pm

BREAKING: The Kings have traded to Harrison Barnes to the Celtics for Aaron Nesmith and their 2021 pick in virtually all mock trades done by Celtics and Kings bloggers. Meanwhile, Ainge still refuses to trade anything but baseball cards.

BestHyperboleEver
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March 10, 2021 2:27 pm

Man, with all these As on the team, you’d think the team would be better than 14-22.

Ialmostmissthemaloofs
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March 10, 2021 2:49 pm

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RORDOG
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March 10, 2021 2:39 pm

The defense is horrible, but all the “worst defense of all time” stuff seems a bit too simplistic. They’ll also end this season with the best offensive efficiency in the history of the Sacramento Kings. Does that mean they’re more offensively talented than the golden age Kings teams? Nope. It means offenses, in general, are getting more efficient over time for a variety of reasons.

1951
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March 10, 2021 2:54 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Okay. Then compare them to their peers this season.

Still worst! And by quite a bit!

Otis
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March 10, 2021 2:55 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

You evaluate it in relation to the competition, right? This team’s defense is not just last in the league, it’s last by a significant margin.

RORDOG
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March 10, 2021 3:08 pm
Reply to  Otis

ok so frame it that way.

Otis
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March 10, 2021 3:13 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

I have, many times.

This feels like semantics to me though – they could very well be the worst defense of all time, based on how much worse they are than the rest of the league. It’s certainly the worst Kings defense I can remember watching, and we’ve had some BAD defenses.

RikSmits
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March 10, 2021 11:30 pm
Reply to  Otis

If we grade it according to our expectations we can perhape give it a C!

richie88
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March 10, 2021 11:57 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

That doesn’t work either. I didn’t expect the Kings to have the worst defense by a significant margin.

BestHyperboleEver
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March 10, 2021 2:57 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

B-R used to have Relative DRtg. Which would be closer to being able to compare teams season to season. Doing only the small amount of legwork I’m willing to at the moment, they have a significantly larger “lead” on the second worst team than any other team in the past decade. For now, we’ll have to settle for knowing that the Kings are only easily the worst defensive team so far this year. Which doesn’t really change the point.

Last edited 1 year ago by BestHyperboleEver
kings4ever
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March 11, 2021 5:45 am
Reply to  RORDOG

This is why you look at net rating to put DRtg and ORtg in proper context, adjsuting for pace of play. The Kings are 26th in net rating, -5.6, effectively the 5th least competitive team in the NBA.

Net rating tends to correlate strongly with W/L. In this case the net rating is equivalent to their W/L record, currently tied for 5th worst.

Otis
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March 11, 2021 1:49 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

Heh. I’m pretty sure RORDOG was using those stats long prior to most of us here.

BestHyperboleEver
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March 10, 2021 3:11 pm

Adamsite
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March 10, 2021 3:24 pm

At this point, who is the one holding out? McNair or Ainge?

BestHyperboleEver
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March 10, 2021 3:33 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I would think McNair is the one with a bit more leverage. So hopefully it’s us.

On a side note, if there ever was a window for getting Claxton on the cheap, I think it’s closing fast. My list of young bigs with upside that might be cheap to acquire is shrinking to Goga, Roby and Patton.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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March 10, 2021 3:36 pm

Isn’t Patton now on the Rockets?

Is your idea to get Claxton for Whiteside?

BestHyperboleEver
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March 10, 2021 3:53 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Yep. Patton is with the Rockets and he’s looked pretty good for a no-cost pickup. He can’t stay healthy but he’s still only 23. At his ceiling, he’s kind of a Brook Lopez type of Center. He isn’t going to grab a ton of rebounds, but he’ll hit 3s, make smart passes and block shots.

I would love to get Claxton for Whiteside, but I don’t think that’s an option at this point. Claxton has been playing extremely well since he came back.

andy_sims
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March 11, 2021 1:18 pm

I agree, there’s way more pressure on Ainge to make a move, and I keep seeing article after article about Barnes being who he needs to go after.

And you know what? If he doesn’t, to hell with him. Sacramento will be in a better position to do a good deal next season, since his salary declines.

Adamsite
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March 10, 2021 4:15 pm

OT: Did not see this coming. McNair had better get moving quick because I could see Ainge going for Aldridge.

Adamsite
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March 10, 2021 4:24 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Fuck. Ainge is going to settle on Aldridge for far less than it would be for Barnes. He won’t have to give up a 1st rounder.

Last edited 1 year ago by Adamsite
Gregoryl
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March 10, 2021 4:32 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

We’ll take LaMarcus and a first for HB. Done and done!

murraytant
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March 10, 2021 4:39 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Not so sure about that. LA is a ball stopping big guy with diminishing skills Barnes offers more perimeter versatility.
Why give up on Nesmith so quickly? He can’t see the court. Patton has jumped around a lot but so did Wood. Claxton or J. Hayes would be great for Whiteside but in my dreams.
A first from Boston is low. This draft very good top 5, drops quickly after that.
SAS do not want Barnes

furious.d
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March 10, 2021 4:22 pm

Richaun is a nice value and I love the heart he puts into his game, but as a starting NBA center my personal grade would be B-.

He’s ultra-efficient, but doesn’t score in a high enough volume to capitalize on it. He isn’t a playmaker for himself or his teammates off the dribble or by passing. He doesn’t stretch the floor, which limits our ability to use PFs in the PnR. And most importantly, he is the anchor of the worst defense in the league. He puts in the effort and is only one of five on the court at any given time, but ultimately Center is the crucial defensive position in the NBA because handcheck rules and 3pt spacing have made it impossible to stop penetration on the perimeter. It’s fun to watch his hustle and blocks, but we are dead last in Points in the Paint and if you can’t stop that in the NBA you can’t stop anything.

aplumley
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March 10, 2021 5:04 pm
Reply to  furious.d

100% agree with this. Holmes is an OK NBA canter and does some things really well (switching on D, taking and making the right shots, high motor). But he has obvious limitations that you point out above. I’m fine re-signing him but he’s not a cornerstone and doesn’t get cornerstone dollars. Since he’s got trade value, I’d be surprised if he’s still on the roster after the deadline. I think he gets overrated by fans because he puts tons of effort in and leaves it all out there. He’s underpaid for sure and will probably get something like 2 yr 18M in his next deal, which the Kings could offer whether they trade him now or not. He probably would be most successful off the bench and used as a situational big. He is benefiting a lot from playing with two very good PnR guards in Fox and Haliburton.

murraytant
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March 10, 2021 4:26 pm

A “c” grade is meet expectations:
Holmes C+ His performance is B
Whiteside D. His performance is C-
Metu C+- he has exceeded expectations because there were none.

Walton- D both in lowered expectations and in performance.
I thought Kalamian would do better with the defense.

Marty
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March 10, 2021 5:33 pm

Casually summarizing TKH series grades, all the starters come in as average or better.

Either the ratings are extremely generous, or this isn’t the fifth worst team in the entire NBA. 🙂

Holmes…A
Barnes….A
Fox……….B+
Buddy…..C-
Bagley…..C

WizsSox
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March 10, 2021 6:21 pm
Reply to  Marty

Or maybe the grading is based on the fact that this line up is actually positive net rating wise (+5) , along with the Hali for Bagley line up is even more positive (+14). Maybe the ratings for these guys in particular aren’t that generous. Think it’s pretty established that the bench on this team is absolute crap, possibly by design.

The bench grades have a lot of incompletes and D’s amongst them. Seems about right and might more explain the crap record.

Last edited 1 year ago by WizsSox
kings4ever
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March 11, 2021 5:49 am
Reply to  Marty

My Grades:
Holmes B+
Barnes B+
Fox A-
Buddy D
Bagley D

Trey2288
March 10, 2021 6:21 pm

I feel like Richaun Holmes is about as good as he can be given the lack of size and overall skill, but I think we’re over rating him. He’s average on offense although super efficient and defensively he plays really well and is constantly in good position. The problem is he’s just small he has no size and every opposing center dominates us we get destroyed in the paint and on the offensive glass. I’d love him as a backup but I wouldn’t want him as a starter next year

RORDOG
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March 10, 2021 6:25 pm

SMH. If you’re not first, you’re last:

kgdobter
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March 10, 2021 8:33 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

At least he’s honest

kings4ever
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March 11, 2021 5:38 am

The analysis of Whiteside is ridiculous. Cognitive dissonance between what you thought he would be and how he has performed and rationalizing his play consistent with your negative pre-season outlook. It is about your feelings and expectations instead of numbers. The facts don’t care about your feelings. And just because the guy moves slow does not mean he is getting work done!

Tony says the team is terrible when Whiteside is on the floor. That is incorrect. He has a net rating of -3 while the team has a net rating of -5.5 so the team is +2.5 when Whiteside is on the floor. And the team went to hell in the games Whiteside was out, twice! The most embarassing and demoralizng defeats came when Whiteside was DNP-CD or injury and anyone not noticing this fact is not paying attention.

I would grade Whiteside a solid B. He has a 13 PER. And everytime he is in the game he makes an impact. Teams do not like to challenge him. Our guards love to find him as a pick and roll. He keeps many possessions alive with O-Reb rate of 12% vs Bagley 10% and Holmes 9%.

Contrast Whiteside to a loser like Joseph, the consumate scrub who seems to play well only when the team is getting thrashed or he is so disrespected by the opponent it is like he is shooting in an empty gym. His PER is 9.0. Single digit PERs means you are running up and down not getting anything done, you are Ben McLemore.

If fans shifted some of their blame from a misunderstood talent like Whiteside to a chronic bum with the nice dispositon like Joseph they would have more accurate read on the talent distribution of the personnel.

Also, how can you not give Metu anything but an incomplete?

andy_sims
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March 11, 2021 1:24 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

I was going to give this a thumb’s up, but it was negated by use of the trite “facts don’t care about your feelings.” As such, I remain neutral.

BabalooMagoo
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March 11, 2021 6:12 am

Keep Fox, Tyrese, Holmes and Barnes. Try to ship the rest.

BestHyperboleEver
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March 11, 2021 8:39 am

It appears the Celtics offered “multiple 1sts” for Jerami Grant.

andy_sims
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March 11, 2021 1:26 pm

Grant is a guy I’ve wanted to have in Sacramento forever. You’d see flashes in Denver, and could only wonder what he’d do if he got starter minutes and a play called for him now and then.

He bet on himself, and he nailed it.

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