After missing the playoffs eight consecutive seasons and finishing with a 28-54 record for the second year in a row, there were plenty of reasons for the Kings’ “repeat” performance: Sluggish offense. Shaky defense. Too little passing. Too many blown opportunities on the home court.
Dare we play it again?
Here is a brief look back at a few of the events, issues, developments and decisions that left the Kings staring at sunsets and out of the playoffs:
The traditional approach, of course, is to hire a general manager, who then oversees all basketball operations and selects the coach. But Ranadive went maverick here: He hired Warriors assistant Michael Malone as his head coach on June 3, essentially thrusting a rookie coach into the role of de facto general manager until Pete D’Alessandro was named GM 12 days later.
The larger issue, perhaps, is philosophical. Malone is rooted in defense and surrounded by offense-minded executives. Whether a split-decision household can succeed and endure – even assuming the Kings have a very productive offseason – remains to be seen. For now, though, Ranadive is committed to improving the roster and giving Malone every opportunity to own the job.
The pre-emptive move (extension) enables the Kings to spend the current offseason resolving the other personnel issues, which means the search for a playmaker or facilitator and rim protector continues. Isaiah Thomas once again outplayed his teammates and forced his way into the starting lineup, but his perimeter defense is poor, and he is a natural scorer, not a playmaker. Thomas’ ideal role is that of a sixth man, a Jamal Crawford, off-the-bench scorer. And that rim protector? Still looking.
The inordinate number of in-season moves is reflected in the stats and the win-loss record. Defensively, the Kings ranked near the bottom in points allowed, field-goal percentage, blocked shots and steals while allowing opponents to shoot 38 percent from the three-point line. Offensively, they finished last in assists, with the slow-paced offense too often characterized by turnovers, dribbling and one-on-one play.
So there it was, Year One, the tipoff of the Ranadive Era. Without the relocation issue hovering, with the coaches and executives in place, the Kings will finally have an offseason to fixate on fixing the product.