Sacramento Kings

Keeping it ‘simple’ keeps Kings happy, leads to more wins

Kings guard Darren Collison saves the ball from crossing the half-court line against the Los Angeles Lakers during their game at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Nov. 10, 2016.
Kings guard Darren Collison saves the ball from crossing the half-court line against the Los Angeles Lakers during their game at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Nov. 10, 2016. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Basketball is not a complicated game when played well, and Darren Collison knows what the Kings have to do to play the game well.

“It’s simple,” Collison said. “Don’t move the ball, don’t win. Move the ball, win.”

The Kings are working to move the ball better and win more, and as Collison points out, the two are connected.

The Kings are 6-2 in games when they have at least 24 assists. Sacramento has seven wins. Seems simple enough. How to do that consistently is a work in progress, especially in a starting lineup with four players who operate well in one-on-one situations.

DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay have carried the offense, but Kings coach Dave Joerger wants Arron Afflalo and Collison to get their shots and points in an “equal opportunity” offense. Joerger had hesitated to start all four because of their one-on-one abilities, but playing them together generates offense.

It’s simple. Don’t move the ball, don’t win. Move the ball, win.

Kings guard Darren Collison

“That’s why I think Darren, Arron, Rudy and DeMarcus play together, so you can’t leave one or the other.” Joerger said. “Each guy is able to put it in the basket.”

For each guy to be a threat to score, the ball has to move. Cousins averages a team-high 20.8 shots, followed by Gay (14.9), Collison (9.6) and Afflalo (7.2).

Cousins said the Kings can’t forget to move the ball to bring balance and flow to their offense.

“The easier we make the game for one another, the easier the game will come for all of us,” Cousins said. “If it comes down to me leading by example where I’m sacrificing early to make sure the ball is moving, getting other guys involved, I’m OK with that. We’ve got to find a way, remain aware of it and realize the game is hard when we try to play one-on-one.”

Collison said he looks to jump-start everyone early in games.

“Just call sets where everybody is touching the ball, where everybody is feeling it,” Collison said. “For the first three minutes, everybody’s got to get a feel for it.”

Afflalo said the process isn’t about calling plays for a particular player. It’s about being unselfish and allowing the game’s natural rhythm to take hold.

When the Kings win, they do that. In their losses, it’s not as prevalent and the offense ends up being a lot of Cousins and Gay with other players watching the duo bail out the offense.

“I think casual fans and professionals know when the game is being played the right way,” Afflalo said. “If the ball is moving, I’m fine. I think being successful in the NBA is a matter of opportunity and minutes. So if I’m out there on the court, I don’t really need a lot of play calls.”

Cousins said the team is reminded before every game to move the ball. Still, the Kings sometimes revert to playing one-on-one, which might be good for stats but ultimately hurts team chemistry.

Also, the key word is “opportunity.” Cousins and Gay will take more shots almost every night because that’s their role and Joerger would not advocate everyone taking turns and shooting a certain number of times.

But as long as the ball finds their teammates and gives them a chance to get involved, the game is easier on everyone.

“The winning teams in the history of the game, they just don’t really care who shoots,” Afflalo said. “Obviously the more talented players, the ball tends to gravitate toward those guys, but the winning teams, they just move the ball. They don’t care who shoots. If a guy is open, they give it to him.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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