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These aren’t your same old Kings

It's happening. It's really happening. So far.

The Sacramento Kings are a good team.

Right now, they are a good team.

I know we must say that cautiously because Kangz are omnipresent, but right now, on Nov. 15, 2022, the Sacramento Kings are not a disjointed mess that can’t figure out the concept of team basketball. Speaking of a disjointed team, let’s briefly take a trip down memory lane of what we have witnessed in Sacramento for years:

  • Lack of consistency
  • Lack of effort on defense
  • Mental breakdowns
  • Not playing with a sense of urgency
  • Giving in when things get tough
  • Playing casually
  • Putting too much on the star player
  • Getting out-toughed by opponents
  • Third quarter breakdowns
  • Not playing the right way for a full 48 minutes

Go on down the list – these things are not happening right now.

Aside from the fact the Kings are now .500 at 6-6 and have gone 6-2 since an 0-4 start (could be 8-4 right now without the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors bringing their refs), the numbers support the improvements being made by this team when compared to last season.

2022-23

FG% - 48%

3P% - 37%

2021-22

FG% - 46%

3P% - 34%

Those are minimal improvements, but combined they have made a difference.

Where you really start to see improvements are in the following.

2022-23

Offensive Rating: Tied for 6th

Net Rating: 16th

2021-22

Offensive Rating: 24th

Net Rating: 25th

The offense is functioning far better this season and even though they are 27th in defensive rating, dive a little deeper and you find that the Kings are 6th in opponent second chance points and 2nd in opponent fast break points. And the team’s net rating is showing the Kings might be on the verge of becoming one of the more respectable teams in the league. One of the reasons the offense is clicking so well is because the team is sharing and protecting the ball. They are 6th in the league in assists at 27.3 per game. They were 22nd last season at 23.7 per game. They are 12th in turnovers at 14.5 per game. Last season, they were 19th in the league.

Sacramento’s Assist % is good for 6th in the league with an Assist/Turnover ratio that is 4th best in the league. Last season, they were 22nd. They are shooting the ball well as a whole and using space correctly using Mike Brown’s system, as Brenden detailed here.

The offense is flowing through Domantas Sabonis (se-bon-usss ♫), which naturally increases the number of assists. He is averaging 6.3 assists per game, good for third highest among all centers and power forwards in the NBA behind only Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green. This also is helping De’Aaron Fox. Fox’s assisted rate on threes made (which he has improved on) is 85%, meaning 85% of his threes came off assists from his teammates, the highest of his career, according to Cleaning The Glass. Fox is also converting 88% of his shots at the rim, which is in the 100th percentile in the NBA. (Fox is so fast, yeah ♫). And converting 59% of his short midrange shots, which also puts him in the 100th percentile.

In term of turnovers, the top 5 players in minutes this season (Fox, Sabonis, Harrison Barnes, Kevin Hurter and Keegan Murray) combine for 9.6 turnovers per game this season, while the top 5 players in minutes last season averaged 11.7 turnovers per game.

Additionally, the whole rotation is contributing, as Huerter pointed out after Saturday’s practice.

“We’re moving the ball, we’re sharing it. I think the great thing about us is it feels like it’s a lot of different guys that contributed over the last couple of games,” he said. “Obviously, Fox really took us home last game [against the Los Angeles Lakers], but I thought TD [Terence Davis] and Trey Lyles at home against the Cavs, Chimezie [Metu] coming in, there’s been a lot of different guys that have contributed really good minutes for us.”

Plus, the team’s Def/Reb% is good for 5th in the league so they are playing with aggression as well. They also are shooting the 10th most free throws in the league (they were actually 8th last season there).

The Kings are doing all of this while maintaining Pace. This season they are 10th in Pace, last season they were 9th.

Outside of the stats, most fans can use the eyeball test to see that this version of the Kings simply knows what they are doing more than the teams of Kangz past. They are not getting knocked off their game by opponent runs; they are able to adjust to what the other team is doing; and they can actually close out games if the other team doesn’t bring their refs. Fox should get a lot of credit for this early season progress, but also should his new coach Mike Brown (Coach Mike is so smart, yeah ♫).

“You can talk and teach until you are blue in the face and if you don’t have results, and results doesn’t always mean that you’ve got to win, a win every once in a while helps out, helps with the belief, but if they see results on how the game can be easier for them as individuals and for us collectively as a group, then the buy-in just continues to get higher and higher,” Brown said after Saturday’s practice. “So, I am impressed that they’ve taken on a lot of the characteristics that we have asked them to this early in the season.”

And his relationship with Fox is certainly a driving force. He spoke about how Fox is allowing him to coach him hard, something he is modeling after Gregg Popovich’s coaching relationship with Tim Duncan.

“I’m on him. I’m stomping my feet sometimes and yelling and I’m going right at him in timeouts, and he doesn’t waver,” Brown said about Fox. “I’m extremely impressed with that. He looks me dead in the eye, and then 99 percent of the time he goes and responds the right way. That’s hard to do, especially when you have a guy like me that’s just, ‘Ahhh! Ahhh!,’ but I have a lot of respect for him to be able to handle that. When he does that, it allows me to coach as hard as I want the rest of the group.”

You have to wonder if Fox has ever been coached like this in his NBA career. He recently spoke to ESPN a little about Brown’s coaching style when it comes to his defense, which he has also improved on.

"I can have almost a picture-perfect defensive possession and then timeout he'll be like, ‘You could have done this, you could have done this better. You kept him in front you the whole time, maybe you jumped a split second too early.’ They always teach us second guy off the ground. So, it's like little things like that that just continues to make me a better player and a better defender,” Fox said.

I do remember Luke Walton talking about how the team needed to make decisions quickly on offense and move the ball side to side. So, part of what Walton was attempting to do could have been rooted in what Brown is doing with his “Point Five” system from under the Steve Kerr tree, but Brown is actually executing it and the team is believing in him. (Shocking right? Brown is a better coach than Walton.)

Whether it is Brown, his work in the offseason, the players he now has around him, or all of the above, Fox is playing like an All-Star this season. Combine that with smarter, team basketball, more shooters and incremental improvements on defense and the Sacramento Kings, as of Nov. 15, 2022, are playing like a team that has a real shot at the playoffs.

Oh, and speaking of Fox, make sure you check out the new trailer for Star Fox – All Star, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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November 15, 2022 1:16 pm

Beam Team

RPO
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RPO
November 15, 2022 1:19 pm

Fox is also converting 88% of his shots at the rim, which is in the 100th percentile in the NBA.

He’s playing so well right now, he’s better than himself!

deepshot22
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November 15, 2022 1:36 pm

You mean they could be 8-4.

TheGrantNapear
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November 15, 2022 1:57 pm
Reply to  deepshot22

Caught that.

Want2win
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November 15, 2022 2:40 pm
Reply to  deepshot22

I say 7-5 and think they could have taken 1 of 2

TheGrantNapear
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November 15, 2022 1:59 pm

It all comes down to Fox. If he continues playing like this (all star to super star level) then we’re talking. But if he reverts to somewhere near normal Fox, this team will be exactly what we thought they’d be heading into the season which is improved but a play-in at best.

PretendGhost
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November 15, 2022 3:17 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Agreed, this is the season for Fox to prove he’s a winning player, and thus far he has done so in emphatic fashion

andy_sims
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November 15, 2022 3:36 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Normal Fox still being a career 19/6 guy, which is hardly someone that wrecks a team.

He’ll probably come down on his scoring over the course of the season, which should be okay, since there are a lot of people to score the ball. If he stays after things on defense, he really ought to be an All-Star.

Kosta
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November 15, 2022 2:33 pm

comment image

Last edited 12 days ago by Kosta
Want2win
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November 15, 2022 2:39 pm

This feels different in a good way, not a creepy old guy way!

Nodaclu
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November 15, 2022 4:40 pm
Reply to  Want2win

Had a nice GIF response for this, but apparently I can’t internet today….

Last edited 12 days ago by Nodaclu
Nodaclu
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November 15, 2022 4:51 pm
Reply to  Nodaclu

There we go!!

C3B3B075-FE9B-49FD-A224-82E5D427E078.gif
Last edited 12 days ago by Nodaclu
Jman1949
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November 15, 2022 4:57 pm
Reply to  Nodaclu

comment image&ct=g

Ialmostmissthemaloofs
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November 15, 2022 2:43 pm

I’m going to be late to this party.

I just can’t allow myself to believe again. It’s been too long…. so much hurt…. I’m just not ready yet. I will accept any kind of bandwagon label anyone puts on me… even though I paid the price and have followed this team for so long and had my spirits crushed so many times that I can’t possibly count… but I’m not going to let this emotionally abusive habitual soul sucker of a hope-dasher hurt me again.

No. Nope. Uh uh. No way. Not gonna do it. No. No. NO. Just… no.

That’s me under the blanket peeking out with one eye… did they win again?
No wait… don’t tell me I don’t want to know….
If they get to the playoffs… I’d be rooting. Until then… I … just… I need time.
I need some space now I’m going for a walk. Kings… please… don’t call me.

PretendGhost
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November 15, 2022 3:14 pm

Take your time, buddy. We’ll welcome you into the fold whenever you’re ready

murraytant
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November 15, 2022 3:45 pm

that’s clever.

Want2win
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November 15, 2022 3:51 pm

I don’t think anybody could begrudge someone for tiptoeing back into the positive vibes and optimism. It’s like a battered wife for years she kept hoping and hoping only to be let down again so it will take a while to trust.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
November 15, 2022 5:13 pm

With you, amigo. Been burned too many times to celebrate just yet.

andy_sims
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November 15, 2022 3:32 pm

Very nice layout of statistical things that can be dry without context.

It’s been interesting how the team is still giving up a lot of points, but seems to be able to pull things together at times, particularly at the end of games. They’ve salted away some of these wins the way winners do, and that’s just a big honking deal. There are a lot of smart kids on the bus, and the driver knows where he’s going.

murraytant
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November 15, 2022 3:49 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

there is no established alpha dog. Established.
Fox is the alpha- amazing games lately. Give me the ball, I will make a play. Night-night, little prancer.
He needs a season or more of that.
DS is a reliable Ox in the middle.
The complementary pieces have to believe and respond.
The real alpha is the coach.
One game at a time. Nets.

Hozr
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November 15, 2022 5:41 pm
Reply to  murraytant

So has McNair earned his extension yet?

If not, how many more games will it take?

AmateurNerd
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November 17, 2022 9:50 am
Reply to  Hozr

An extension had better be a formality at this point. The roster moves of the last 2+ seasons, draft and coaching staff included, have made this team much better. More talent, more cohesion. Quibble with the slow trigger finger on firing Walton if you’re so inclined, and lament the loss of Tyrese, but the big-picture results speak for themselves at this point.

jwalker1395
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November 15, 2022 5:42 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Id say Sabonis is the player that is most foundationally important to the offense. If Fox misses a game, Davion, Monk, and Huerter can run the PnR through Domas all night. Sabonis is systemically important.

But Fox IS The Alpha. That is his role. He is the head of the system but exists above and beyond it when necessary. Whether or not he can do it over a sustained time is up to him, but it’s looking good so far.

This pairing is what Monte is betting on, and why they complement each other so well as personalities. They are each leaders in separate but equal ways. One leads play to play action, the other turns off the lights.

The Fox and Ox is era is gonna be fun one.

Last edited 12 days ago by Jacob Walker
Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 15, 2022 5:50 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

Well said.

Kingsguru21
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November 15, 2022 10:08 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

Great points.

andy_sims
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November 15, 2022 4:04 pm

♫When the beam hits your eye
like a big pizza pie, that’s
Irreversible eye damage, dude.

RPO
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November 15, 2022 4:21 pm
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comment image

Kosta
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November 15, 2022 4:52 pm
Reply to  RPO

Taco Tuesday!

The stars are aligned!

jwalker1395
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November 15, 2022 6:43 pm

If you aren’t going to change your style of play when Sabonis is off the floor, then trade Holmes and play Queta.

Queta brings rim protection, finishing, pick setting, and has even shown flashes of passing and shooting. That’s theoretically the perfect 16 minute/game backup for Sabonis.

Metu has been ok for a couple games, but this can’t possibly be the long term solution. We need a change in personnel, and we got the fix in house! What are we waiting on?

jwalker1395
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November 15, 2022 7:48 pm

Love the way Mike Brown plays TD. Sends him out there for 5 early minutes and then decides whether he needs to sit the rest of the game or lead the team in scoring.

ajonez81
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November 16, 2022 6:36 am

Appreciate TKH reporting and enthusiasm, let’s not get this hype train going too fast, enjoying the ride though.

Last edited 11 days ago by ajonez81
AmateurNerd
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November 17, 2022 1:16 pm
Reply to  ajonez81

Don’t tell a starving man to take small bites! We haven’t tasted competence in 1.5 decades and we are basketball HANGRY.

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