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Film Room: Richaun Holmes is one of the most effective finishers in the league

The Kings will need their center to continue to be reliable near the rim.

When healthy, there was a legit argument to be made that newly signed center Richaun Holmes was among the top 15 in his position - if not higher.

Many factors have contributed to Holmes’ success with Sacramento this season. When the Kings signed the 6’10” big using the MLE, I wrote back at our previous venture that Holmes would become a fan favorite. After Marvin Bagley III went down with a thumb injury and Dewayne Dedmon’s performance rapidly deteriorated, Holmes didn’t take long to insert himself into the starting lineup.

His energy and motor is the primary reason for his success. He’s always fighting for 50/50 and loose balls, grabbing tough rebounds and throwing it down on the opposition’s head. When the Kings lacked fight on the court, Holmes would oftentimes be the only player fighting back. That’s what Kings fans saw in Holmes - a guy that gave it his all, no matter the circumstances.

Another key factor to Holmes’ success has been his ability to finish around the rim. Besides the patented push shot that seemed to have a 100% conversion rate according to the eye test, Holmes was extremely efficient around the rim.

Quick numbers dump:

-shots less than five feet from the rim: 158-214 (73.8%)
-less than eight feet: 174-257 (67.7%)
-restricted area only: 148-202 (73.3%)
-all alley oops: 26-29 (89.7%)
-tip shots: 28-42: (66.7%)

Holmes is the best finisher around the rim for the Kings (Harry Giles has numbers close to Holmes, but on much less volume), but for this film room breakdown, I went to see what makes Holmes successful near the rim.

Buddy Hield is the pick-and-roll initiator here with Holmes (he’s had this role in many plays I’ve watched) and patiently makes the read for an open Holmes. Holmes initially bobbles the incoming pass, but he stays poised and maintains possession with Jerami Grant sliding over from the right corner. Grant could make a play on the ball after the bobble, but he bends back instead.

Holmes gathers the ball, shifts away from Grant’s arms and shows the calmness to drop it in. He could’ve easily rushed the shot upon catching the ball which possibly would’ve resulted in a charging foul since Grant is just inches ahead of the restricted area. It’s great instinct from Holmes to react accordingly when Grant slides over as the play easily could’ve been a turnover than two points.

Backing down Alex Caruso is not necessarily impressive for someone’s Holmes size, but when LeBron James comes over for help defense, he is all over Holmes. As aggressive as James is, which eventually is enough to warrant a foul, Holmes does a phenomenal job to stick through the contact, lean into the defender’s body to create space and softly bank it off the glass.

Again it’s another pick-and-roll with Hield and three Denver defenders forget Holmes’ presence on the court. That allows for Hield to split the defenders for a bounce pass back to Holmes, who gathers the ball with two defenders sandwiching him, uses a quick pump fake to cause Mason Plumlee to bite and then Holmes uses that sliver of space to get off a shot.

Now Holmes initially misses, but another factor to his success was being faster than anyone else when reacting to the ball. Plumlee is the first one to lift his feet when the ball bounces to the right side of the rim, but Holmes gets in there as well to tip it back in. If Holmes is a second late to that jump, Plumlee likely hits the ball back in the air for anyone to get based on the way his hand slaps the air when Holmes touches it.

After Bogdan Bogdanovic misses the elbow jumper, Holmes runs to the right block and gets in prime position to grab the follow-up, which he does...over three other Spurs. San Antonio’s big man depth is pretty thin as it is, but without LaMarcus Aldridge it’s even worse. That plays to Holmes’ advantage in this play as he outmuscles everyone for the basket and it should benefit all the bigs for Sacramento when they play the Spurs on opening day.

Again, there’s no way Jakob Poeltl will be able to keep up with the other bigs that Sacramento has, let alone Holmes. The Spurs also have Tyler Zeller and Trey Lyles available, but that’s not ideal depth. Holmes played bully ball against the Spurs and he should look to continue that level of physicality in Orlando.

Going back to the same game against the Lakers, Holmes once again displays great anticipation and awareness as the ball goes everywhere. He’s all alone near the rim against three other Lakers, yet he’s able to win the ball over Dwight Howard for two points. Holmes stays with the play, even when there’s hardly a play to be made.

Holmes doesn’t get the basket on this play, but it reiterates some points I’ve already made. He gets himself in position to get the ball as it looks like Hield is throwing him a lob. Holmes misses the initial shot, knocks it away from Bismack Biyombo and at the five second mark of the clip, finds himself as the only King anywhere near the ball.

There are literally five Hornets in the paint to one Holmes. He gets some pump fakes off for space to shoot, but after he misses, he still attempts to win the ball back one more time. That type of effort is what has gotten Holmes rewarded on many plays.

Outhustling Hassan Whiteside isn’t an arduous task, but this game was an imperative one to win. On the road with a double-digit lead, Holmes takes on two Blazers to fight for the ball to extend the Kings lead. He’s made countless plays just like that that made him stand out in the frontcourt.

We may be seeing the Kings insert more small ball lineups into the game plan, leaving Holmes as the likely starting five. If Harrison Barnes is playing hefty minutes at the four, then Holmes’ presence in the paint on both ends will be as crucial as ever. There’s satisfaction in knowing that Holmes can certainly get buckets down low and Sacramento will need that anticipation, motor and passion to shine in Orlando.

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July 3, 2020 9:46 am

Love the guy; knows his role, knows his limitations and plays within himself, thus maximizing his potential.
And he shows that playing within yourself does not mean that you are contained and can’t hustle and be fiery.

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
July 3, 2020 9:49 am

Fantastic breakdown, Sanjesh!

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
July 3, 2020 4:11 pm
Reply to  SanjeshSingh

What’s it gonna take to have you do a piece like this on Nemanja? He’s my sneaky under appreciated glue guy on this team and would love a breakdown like you just did for Holmes. I’ll take the good and the bad analysis.

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
July 4, 2020 8:00 am
Reply to  SanjeshSingh

Awesome! Looking forward to it all!

July 4, 2020 8:17 am
Reply to  Adamsite

same here, but I’m kind of dreading the Buddy as initiator one.

July 3, 2020 10:20 am
Reply to  Adamsite

hear hear!

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
July 3, 2020 10:03 am

I just noted in the other thread that Holmes is 6’10” and 235 pounds and can play center just fine with determination and physicality while also playing within his own game. Bagley is 6’11 and now listed at 240lbs, so he should be able to play center just fine in today’s NBA.
My question is this: Should Bagley be modeling his game around someone like Holmes and use his athleticism and quickness to be a rim finisher and play within himself, or are we still hoping for him to become a facilitating, stretch 4 unicorn?
My personal opinion is that he is more suited to be a player like Holmes, only he could be better at it. Think Stoudemaire, Abdur Rahim, or even Karl Malone. Model his game on the pick and roll, post playing, rim finishing greats. I know it is not the modern NBA, but I think that may be the best role for Bagley. Pair him with shooters, just like Walton does with Holmes, and free up the paint for him. Make him an efficient 20 and 10 player as opposed to an empty stat 20 and 10 player.
In my opinion, Holmes is the one Bagley is gonna have to beat out for rotational minutes, but Holmes might also be a top 3 King right now. Does anyone think they can play together, because I don’t.

July 3, 2020 10:43 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I just noted in the other thread that Holmes is 6’10” and 235 pounds and can play center just fine with determination and physicality while also playing within his own game. Bagley is 6’11 and now listed at 240lbs, so he should be able to play center just fine in today’s NBA.

I wanted to reply to HKKingsfan in the other thread about the weight of players, but I’ll do it here. Weight is not immaterial, but not the end-it-all. It is also about footwork, positioning, keeping a low center of gravity, core strength and knowing when to make contact and how. Things I suspect Marvin was not taught.
I also think that Marvin is more likely to develop range on his shot than to understand the spacing and timing around the paint as well as Holmes does. But his athleticism could make up for that partly; he’s more explosive and vertical than Holmes.

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
July 3, 2020 12:43 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

I kind of feel that Marvin is the product of AAU basketball in that he lacks the understanding and nuances to the game. He has all the raw skill but hasn’t been taught how to use his tools. He just needs a lot more development by superior coaching. I have to say it, but I think Marvin could potentially be a star with a Miami Heat or Spurs coaching and development staff helping him. He’s not gonna get that with the current Kings makeup.
When it comes to what he will develop, I’m not sure a jump shot is any easier tto improve than spacing and timing. To me is raw skill favors him playing down low. He could lead the league in offensive rebounds with that second hop. Maybe model himself on Moses Malone, in those regards?

July 3, 2020 5:53 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

He’s very athletic, but I wouldn’t say he’s particularly skilled. There are times where playing down low might be best for him, but there are times where taking a 3 might be best for him.

July 4, 2020 1:01 pm
Reply to  richie88

He’s skilled around the rim, but he doesn’t have any real post moves besides a jump hook. If I’m Marvin, I try to expand my mid-high post/face up game, including passing, and continue to work on his 3 ball. He could legitimately be an all around stretch 5 but right now he’s definitely best suited to be used mainly in the P&R game until he refines the other parts of his game.
And that’s completely fine, but I’m not sure he’d willingly accept a Holmes type of role.

Last edited 6 months ago by wilbur10
July 3, 2020 2:06 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’ll repeat my reply from the other thread: The listed weight & the actual weight aren’t necessarily the same.

July 3, 2020 12:13 pm

If you don’t appreciate Richaun Holmes, well, your opinion doesn’t count.

July 3, 2020 12:21 pm

It is hard not to love Holmes. The effort, the effectiveness, the efficiency, and he never seems to wear out. He will bang and bang and bang. Does everyone think this is a true indicator of his talent and skill? That he can maintain a high effort 13-15 ppg and 8-10 rpg for a few years? What is that worth contract wise to the Kings?

July 3, 2020 12:35 pm
Reply to  MichaelMack

I am not sure but I think he’ll be an unrestricted FA and we don’t have full Bird rights so our ability to retain him will be limited.

July 3, 2020 1:00 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

I’ll bet dollars to donuts that retaining Holmes will have as much to do with of the dollars other teams have available to spend in 2021 as much as anything the Kings do.
Holmes was, right or not, available for the room MLE for a reason.

Last edited 6 months ago by Kingsguru21
July 4, 2020 12:51 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I think you’re right about Holmes’ price being reliant on what other teams have to spend in 2021, but I can’t see him staying under the radar for much longer. His per 36 numbers have been steady his whole career and it doesn’t take long on the tape for Holmes to standout and show how he effects the game. I mean if he does stay under the radar, better for us and maybe he will because, Sacramento.

July 4, 2020 1:27 pm
Reply to  wilbur10

Assuming there’s something resembling a normal 20-21 season, the only way I see Holmes really upping his value is if he can hit high 30s on 3s on 100-125 attempts. His best year in Philly hitting 35% he only took 77 attempts if memory serves.
Can he do it? Sure, wouldn’t bet against him. But the Kings are not the type of team that typically gets that from a player in my experience.

July 3, 2020 4:43 pm

Safety Cat. Go back to the Chain Mail thread and have a gander at that animal on the Giraffes shoulders. What da?comment image

Last edited 6 months ago by ZillersCat
July 5, 2020 4:14 pm

With Holmes and Alex Len, we should be good at center. Bagley only in emergencies.


[…] with Richaun Holmes, the play is bound to fail as soon as Buddy picks up the dribble. In the last film room, we saw some of Buddy’s passes work out. But many times, he failed to recognize that you can’t […]

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