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Five after Five

Five off-the-cuff, obviously-too-early observations after five games
By | 0 Comments | Oct 28, 2017

Welcome back, NBA! The offseason was one of the best ever but nothing beats actual basketball. Who can resist making dumb, small-sample-size-institute approved judgments off of a tiny sliver of the basketball season? Lets dive in

1. Skal Labissiere is on fire

Skal's absolutely scorching the nets to start the season. He's averaging 12.2 points in 23 minutes per game on .61 TS%, which stretches out to 19.1 points per 36 minutes. That mark ranks him third in per-minute scoring among sophomores who have played at least 50 minutes this season.

The key is that he's scoring on absolutely killer efficiency. His shot chart is greener than the bills Vivek sends to my doorstep to write here. 

He's shooting 50% from midrange, and 40% from three taking one per game. That almost certainly has to come down…. right? Otherwise he’s basically prime Dirk out there.

It should be noted he shot a similar percentage from midrange last season:

Even counting last season, we're still dealing with some very small sample sizes; the very least we can say is that we have quite the sweet-shooting big in Skal Labissiere. It remains to be seen how good he is.

2. De'Aaron Fox has a weak, but workable, jumper

As advertised, De'Aaron Fox has been the fastest player on the court for most of the minutes he's logged. The biggest question mark was the jumpshot. So far, his shooting remains a point that needs improvement, but it shows promise. 

He's struggling from midrange, but his three point shot looks good so far in the limited attempts he's had and he's made 11 of his 12 free throws. DraftExpress had him at 27/78 pulling up from midrange last year in college. From the eye test, it looks like he's taking some ill-advised shots from midrange; as he gains more experience, he'll learn to pick his shots better. Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be anything obnoxiously wrong with his shot form, so he just needs to put in the reps and he’ll be fine.

3. The G in Garrett Temple stands for “Gunslinger”

I don't think anyone was expecting this level of chucking from Garrett Temple. Over the past three years, he's become a solid three point shooter, but this year he's launching like he's Klay Thompson.  He's taking 5.2 three pointers per game in only 24 minutes; that smashes his career high of 3.4 he set last year. To be fair, he's making 42% of them, but that is surely bolstered by his performance in Phoenix where he hit 6/8 threes.

Otherwise, I just don't know if there's a future behind these kinds of shots. 

This is curling off of a screen, contested, and with 11 seconds left on the shot clock. He hit them in Phoenix, but is that something you can count on? 

4. Zach Randolph can't defend anymore

I love Zach Randolph. I'm happy that he's here. I like that he's probably tossing the Kings' resident beanpoles Skal and Willie Cauley-Stein around in practice. But boy is it rough watching him defend out there. The Phoenix game was particularly rough:

He's not offering any semblance of rim protection, allowing opponents to shoot 70.6% when he's defended shots in the paint. Athletic bigs like Marquesse Chriss shot right over him, and guards went right around him. And he looks flat-footed in space, even for Zach Randolph standards. As teams continue to scout the Kings throughout the season, this is going to be a concern. 

5. Minutes are spread evenly

The Kings have logjams up and down the roster, and the vet/kid minute debate will rage into eternity. But so far, Dave Joerger has spread the minutes out rather evenly. The Kings have nobody averaging more than 30 minutes per game, led by Cauley-Stein's 28.6. 10 players are regularly averaging at least 17 minutes per game. Joerger hinted that the splits would be like this in training camp, with both starter and backup averaging around 20 minutes per game. Its definitely noteworthy how its playing out.

As the season progresses, I would expect the Kings to start resting vets to open up more minutes. And injuries will likely play a role. But for now, the Kings' minute distribution looks like the platonic egalitarian utopia of everybody sharing and  participating. Well, unless you're Frank Mason. 

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