Yes, the Sacramento Kings are coming off a magical season. But under all that success lies an ugly truth.
The Kings had the highest offensive rating in NBA history, and it was so impressive and enjoyable to watch that it almost made up for how bad their defense was. At the same time, it was frustrating for the team knowing that if — if — it could hold it down on defense, it could take its overall success to the next level.
Sacramento ended last season ranked 24th in defensive rating (116.0). On the road, though, the Kings were a completely different team, as they finished the regular season ranked eighth in defensive rating away from Golden 1 Center. Not to mention they turned up their defensive intensity in their first-round playoff matchup with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
That will be the next big challenge for the Kings, if they truly are serious about transforming their playoff goals into NBA championship aspirations.
So, the Kings are capable of playing good team defense. But can they commit to it for an entire season?
Given the Kings’ overall rating last season, one might think the front office would make defensive improvement a priority entering the offseason. A number of big-name, defensive-minded players — Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez, among others — were tied to Sacramento in free agency.
No player mentioned above will light the beam this coming season, though, as the Kings ultimately decided to re-sign Harrison Barnes and run it back with essentially the same core.
Following the initial irritation and “What?!” shouted out by Kings fans, general manager Monte McNair’s master plan began to make a lot of sense. Green returned to the Warriors for $100 million over the next four years. Kuzma re-upped with the Washington Wizards for $102 million over four years. Middleton’s new Milwaukee Bucks deal is three years for $102 million. Lopez also returned to Milwaukee, signing a two-year, $48 million contract.
Rather than sign a star player to a lucrative contract, McNair made subtle, under-the-radar moves while still improving the…
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Author : NBC Sports BayArea
Publish date : 2023-09-18 20:18:36
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