How do the Sacramento Kings have fantasy league darlings DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas and the talents of Rudy Gay forming their core and sit 15 games under .500? That’s a question I often get mainly because of fantasy roster implications, but it raises a great question. Why is this team so bad?
That’s a question Kings head coach Mike Malone likely grapples with as well. So is it lack of effort? Lack of offense? Is it Jimmer Fredette‘s fault just because? Defense? Is the defense the only reason for the Kings’ struggles on the the court? You bet it is.
“I told our team afterward that I was going to start players that are willing to defend,” Malone told reporters after the Kings’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “I got the job in June and I preached defense and that’s what I believe in.” Malone has made small strides in changing the culture, but not nearly enough.
This team still makes the mistakes young teams make and fall into old habits. Habits like dribbling the ball to death resulting in unforced turnovers. Sacramento is one of the worst teams in the league defensively (28th overall), which explains why the Kings are just 9-21 against teams above .500 and 7-14 when they lose by 10 points or more.
And man, have they had some devastating losses. The fact that coach Malone is taking the brunt of the Kings’ woes is admirable. Fans would love to put it on the recent injuries to Gay and Cousins, but the Kings were stumbling even before those two went down. Something’s gotta change for the better. Three Kings are averaging 20 points, and they need more.
Cousins is a game-time decision for Sacramento’s next game against the Dallas Mavericks. Gay, who returned to the lineup Wednesday, says he was hobbled after tweaking his foot but will play Friday. Whether the Kings as a whole can play better on defense will go a long way towards what the front office will do next.
There is no hot seat for Malone, but the struggles could leave GM Pete D’Alessandro imploding the team before they even gel. Then again, they may need to keep it as a contingency plan.