Sacramento Kings

Analysis: What’s wrong with the Kings? It’s simple, but they need to fix it fast

It’s simple. The Sacramento Kings’ problems are obvious.

The defense is ragged and porous.

The offense is turnover-prone.

If you’re looking for a bright spot in the Kings’ 0-3 start, which deepened in Saturday’s 113-81 thumping at the hands of the Utah Jazz, you’re going to have to squint pretty hard. That’s coming from the Kings themselves.

“No excuse, man, we’ve just got to try to figure it out and try to find a way to get stops and score the ball,” Buddy Hield said. “We look terrible right now.”

Coach Luke Walton knows it. The Kings were never competitive against the Jazz, down 25 points at halftime and 35 early in the third quarter. Walton talked about how his team started out the game with sloppy turnovers and bad defense. His eyes bulged as he talked about how it happened again in the third quarter. That was enough for him. The starters came out three minutes into the third quarter and most never returned.

For Walton, it’s particularly galling because he likes his players.

“We’ve got a good group,” Walton said. “Our group works really hard. It’s part of the reason it’s frustrating, because it’s not transferring over from the practice court right now. And I’m in there every day and I see the type of work they put in. I want the group to start succeeding with some of the stuff. “

Success would be a welcome change of pace. The team is 28th in rebounding, 27th in blocks, 26th in turnovers and 22nd in steals. You can delve into the advanced metrics, too, but the end result is the Kings are playing very bad.

It’s a shock for a team that a week ago had reason for great optimism. The Kings were a surprise hit last season, winning 39 games with a lineup many expected to be among the worst in the Western Conference.

The difference, the Kings say, is energy and effort.

“The biggest thing is ownership,” veteran forward Harrison Barnes said. “You have to just own responsibility that we’re all in this. As a leader of the team, I take a lot of ownership on that, just making sure guys are ready to go. That’s on me, so I have to be better at that and we all have to be better.”

The good news, if there’s any, is that it’s still early. An 0-3 start is not a season-killer. And while the Kings’ schedule is busy, Sacramento does not face a murderers’ row of opponents coming up, with home games this week against the Nuggets, Hornets and Jazz. It’s tough but at least the Clippers, Lakers and Spurs aren’t in town. Then the Kings hit the road to face the hapless Knicks and the Toronto Raptors.

The Kings will face adversity, backup Richaun Holmes said, and they have to respond better.

“We just have to weather the storms,” Holmes said. “Basketball is a game of runs. The other team makes a run, we can’t hang our heads because leads can blow open just like that in the NBA. So we have to weather storms and just refocus on the things that we normally do.”

It’s simple, really. As Hield sat at his locker after the loss to the Jazz, he was asked how the team was going to turn the team’s play around.

“I don’t know. You tell me. We didn’t get any stops. We didn’t get any shots up. It’s evident we just got to gel together and just figure our way,” he said.

If the Kings want to turn the season around, it’s simple, Hield said.

“Win a game and then use that as momentum in the next one,” Hield said.

Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule

Oct. 28 vs. Denver Nuggets

Oct. 30 vs. Charlotte Hornets

Nov. 1 vs. Utah Jazz

Nov. 3 at New York Knicks

Nov. 6 at Toronto Raptors

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James Patrick has covered the beer scene from Maine to California. (OK, mostly just those two.) He’s worked at newspapers in six states as a sports reporter, sports editor, social media editor and newspaper carrier. He’s as comfortable drinking a High Life as a wild-fermented raspberry sour.