Articles | Commentary

The 6th Man Report: Let’s hear it for the bench mob

Monte McNair has made a series of shrewd moves that have made Sacramento one of the deepest and most versatile teams in the league.

One of the best parts of March Madness is learning about different team's benches.

Whether its elaborate celebrations or a hero that rises up to overcome big odds and lead his team to victory, fans tend to fall in love with some kid they had never heard of prior to tip-off to the madness.

You don't see quite as much of that in the pro game, but the best teams -- the ones that win championships -- seem to have at least a player or two that folks say "would be a starter if he played anywhere else". That depth comes to roost in the postseason, and can often make the difference in a seven game series.

The Kings have quietly developed one of the best benches in the association; sure, everyone talks about Malik Monk, but it's guys like Trey Lyles, Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis, and most recently Kessler Edwards, that could be the difference in April and May. Scoring 37.5ppg, a top ten mark in the league, there is plenty of instant offense off the bench, but they also get it done defensively and on the glass (+/- of 126, one of just 13 bench units in the league with a positive +/-).

Take Mitchell, for example.

Not known for his offensive game, the back-up point guard out of Baylor averages just 5.6ppg to go along with 2.2 assists and half a steal a game. But his defense is bothersome to opponents -- just ask Bradley Beal -- and in increased minutes over the last month, he's stepped up his game on both ends of the floor. After shooting just 40% from the field in February, he's over 50% in March, he's doubled his assist rate and provided quality minutes for a team that's been red-hot.

With Lyles and Huerter out Saturday in D.C., it was Davis that stepped up, dropping 21 points on a night where De'Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes struggled. Chimezie Metu was impactful in his limited run as well, scoring just two points but hauling in six rebounds and dishing two assists.

The great thing about this group is that on any given night, any one of them is capable of stepping up; though Monk's production is expected and counted on, the others are free to fulfill their roles as needed depending on matchups. You see a ton of support for their teammates, little to no complaining about minutes and roles, and a sense of a willingness to just do their jobs. It's rare at the professional level, and it might be the difference between just making the playoffs -- and making a run.

Crown Him:

He could be the King of the Week every week, but it's time for me to give Domantas Sabonis his flowers officially.

You can't watch this guy play and not be impressed; on any given possession he might initiate the fast break, drain a midrange jumper, dish a no look pass, or block an opponent at the rim. He has such a well-developed offensive skillset and a knack for hauling in rebounds (12.5 per game), and is a perfect compliment to Fox and the rest of the Kings lineup.

You have to give something up to get something, and the Kings trade of Tyrese Haliburton to bring Sabonis to Sacramento is as classic a win-win as you will see.

Sabonis, who has playoff experience with the Pacers, has been a revelation in his first full season in Sacramento; a career 15 ppg scorer coming into the season, he's closing in on 20 this season, has increased his rebounding rate and more than doubled his assist rate. In fact, his 7.2 assists per game is 12th best in the league and and trails only Nikola Jokic for big guy passing.

He's also shooting a career-high 61% from the field and has blocked over a shot per game over his last five.

To say it plainly, the guy is on a serious heater, and it couldn't come at a better time.

SacTown's Finest:

After a fun weekend of March Madness at Golden 1 (congrats, Princeton and UCLA!), the Kings are back in town this week.

With the stretch run in front of us -- and a chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the West not out of the realm of possibility -- it's time for the home crowd to show up in support of the team.

After a date in SLC tonight, Sacramento gets four straight at home, hosting the Celtics Tuesday night, the Suns Friday, the Jazz Saturday, and the Timberwolves Monday.

Three of those games are against Western Conference foes with big-time playoff considerations, while the matchup with Boston is a chance to prove their mettle against an Eastern Conference title contender.

Let the fun basketball continue in the Capital City!

Support Us On Patreon
To prevent spam, our system flags comments that include too many hyperlinks. If you would like to share a comment with multiple links, make sure you email [email protected] for it to be approved.
Subscribe
Notify of
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Aykis16
Admin
Comments
Vote Up
Author
Original Member
Nostradumbass 13
Comments
Vote Up
Author
Original Member
Nostradumbass 13
March 20, 2023 2:12 pm

Speaking of being on a heater, Domas just got named West Player of the Week for the second week in a row.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
March 20, 2023 2:46 pm
Reply to  Aykis16

Seems like All-NBA shit to me.

PhilippinesForSacKings
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
March 20, 2023 3:05 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Seems like malpractice to me.

Kosta
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
March 20, 2023 4:11 pm

Yup, Indiana basically gave him away for nothin!

RPO
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
RPO
March 20, 2023 5:37 pm
Reply to  Kosta

“You sayin’ I was wrong???”

– JJ Redick

RPO
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
RPO
March 20, 2023 5:36 pm
Reply to  Aykis16

Just save us all the suspense and give it to him each week from here on out.

Kingsguru21
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
March 20, 2023 2:43 pm

Before I forget, I enjoyed the piece Melissa! Thanks!

That said, just to give people an idea of Domas’ career year, this is about how it goes. These are all the career highs he’s currently having:

TS%/eFG%, WS/48, DRB%, AST/TOV ratio, AST%, TOV%, ORtg, He’s also using a few less possessions in terms of finishing them (ending a possession with a shot, FT or TOV) than he was in Indy but not dramatically so.

And it’s not just Domas posting career highs that are noticeable. De’Aaron is posting a career high in TS%/eFG%, ORtg, TOV%, DRB%, WS/48.

Barnes is having a career high in TS%, ORtg, WS/48 and has more assists than turnovers. (This is just the stuff we can measure.)

Huerter is having a career high in TS%, WS/48 & ORtg.

Monk is having a career high in ORtg, WS48 and AST% and is a close 2nd to last season in TS% for the best mark of his career.

I think it speaks volumes that not are your two best players having career seasons, your role players are too. There’s been a lot of good around these parts the way this fanbase hasn’t seen for the better part of 20 years. And there’s really no way from my vantage to not enjoy that.

Klam
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
March 20, 2023 3:17 pm

I’m really digging these 6th Man Report articles, Melissa! Good job. 🙂

Henry
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
March 20, 2023 3:18 pm

Love our bench! Nice coverage, great to see them getting the props they deserve. Will be interesting to see if/how Brown shortens the rotation in post season or continues to rely on their depth. I also wonder if Keegan will continue to get starter minutes with the emergence of Edwards as a stopper. I wouldn’t even be shocked if at some point Edwards started, similar to how Brown tried to start Okpala at the begining of the season.

If were to quibble about one thing, it would be that even with a deep bench we are not as versatile as I would like. The team doesn’t have a lot of options if they really want to go big – they’ve not really played Domas meaningful minues with Metu or Holmes. The biggest playable lineup would be – Domas, Lyles, Barnes, Murray, Fox?

Offseason needs: acquire backup defensive big (who ideally can play spot minutes with Domas) + sign Sasha (who is 6’9″) + re-sign Barnes. Then we could really go big. Address that, and sky’s the limit for this team.

BuffaloDiaspora
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
March 20, 2023 3:50 pm
Reply to  Henry

I was thinking about the same thing last night – most teams shrink their rotation to 8 or 9 guys for the playoffs, but the Kings currently have 11 players that get rotation minutes (5 starters + Monk, Mitchell, Lyles, Metu, Edwards and Davis).

Monk, Mitchell and Lyles are mortal locks to stay in the rotation. Metu is close to that, but Lyles could play backup 5 as long as the other team doesn’t go too big, I guess. Edwards and Davis might be used situationally if Mike Brown really wants to shorten the bench. If we see anyone else, things have gone either really, really well or I stopped watching 10 minutes ago.

Henry
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
March 20, 2023 4:50 pm

Agreed. Davis is def odd man out. I think Edwards is in, he just might be that consistent wing stopper that Brown has been looking for. I think Metu will depend on the series – yeah if Brown can get away with Lyles at 5 he will. But there’s still something nagging me that Keegan’s mins might be on the chopping block. If Edwards contiues to play well as a starter, when Huerter gets back, Browns decision will be a key tell — does Edwards go back to the bench? Or does Keegan?

NorCalKingsFan
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
March 20, 2023 5:55 pm
Reply to  Henry

I agree, except I don’t think its much of a decision between Murray and Edwards, Murray has proven himself all year (in a historically good offense) and he is generally in the right place at the right time. With that said, Edwards defense is pretty freakin’ good and will probably be needed even more so in the playoffs. One of the great things about him is that he can play 2-4 without concern so he could sub in for anyone of KH/HB/KM depending on whoever is playing worst in that particular game, is tired, or for defensive matchups.

Badge Legend

Patreon Supporter Patreon Supporter   Registered On Day 1 Registered On Day 1   Published Post Published Post  Published Post Nostradumbass
Comment Up Votes 200 Up Votes   Comment Up Votes 500 Up Votes    1,000 Up Votes    3,000+ Up Votes
Comments 50 Comments   Comments 100 Comments    250 Comments    500 Comments    1000+ Comments