The Sacramento Kings finished last season last in the NBA by averaging 18.9 assists.
How much that has to improve is debatable. The Phoenix Suns were 29th in assists with 19.1 per game. But the Suns managed to win 48 games, 20 more than the Kings.
Kings coach Michael Malone wants Sacramento’s average to be higher and definitely not last in the NBA. More passing and actually making shots would help the cause.
The Kings shot 44.7 percent from the field last season (18th in the league) and 33.3 percent from three-point range (27th in the league).
“If you’re a team that’s at 24, 25 (assists per game), you’re a team that’s making the extra pass, making a play for your teammate and probably among the top five teams in the NBA in assists per game,” Malone said.
San Antonio led the NBA with 25.2 assists per game, all without a player averaging more than 5.7 assists.
If the Kings could get above 20 per game, that would mean they are passing better and, more importantly, making shots off the passes.
If the Kings fall back into dribbling through defenses or players holding the ball to create their own shot, that’s a formula for another 28-win season.
With the season opener against the Golden State Warriors tomorrow night at Sleep Train Arena, Malone will get his first look at how far the Kings have come at sharing the ball.
“I can only hope our sense of urgency, our focus and our habits all lead to a lot more than 28 wins,” Malone said.
▪ A lot of pundits around the country are laughing at the Kings after this report on Grantland.com said Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive pitched the idea of the Kings playing 4-on-5 defense and leaving a player to cherry pick on the other end of the court.
First everyone, calm down.
Malone will not be trying this out, though the report suggests the Kings’ D-League team, the Reno Bighorms, could do this.
I’ve seen this work ... as a kid on the playground ... a couple of times. And then we all shamed the one kid for being lazy and someone eventually leaked back to make sure he couldn’t catch a pass by the rim.
I guess when you’ve been as bad on defense as the Kings have been in recent years, anything’s on the table for improvement.
But I’m not in favor of anything that encourages a King not to get back on defense. They’ve done plenty of that in recent years without it being part of the strategy.
From having fans apply for analytics jobs to help with the draft to this report, this Kings’ ownership group is all about trying something new.
Basketball 3.0, folks. Enjoy it. Should be an interesting 2014-15 season.