Pistons host Kings and the Boogie Express

Essentials

  • Teams: Sacramento Kings (22-41) at Detroit Pistons (24-39)
  • Date: March 11, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons will welcome the Sacramento Kings tonight at the Palace of Auburn Hills as well as what I like to call the “High-Paid Player Offense”.

The Kings’ offense basically revolves around their top-three players, and there isn’t a lot of variety in their scheme. Sacramento will run a few set plays here and there, but for the most part, it’s an offense predicated on the pick-and-roll to get things started.

That gets players moving a little, which forces the defense to shift as well. From there, the Kings put the ball in the hands of Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gay, and watch them go to work. Typically, this could produce some mixed results given how predictable Sacramento is on this front.

Have a look at a Kings set that features Cousins:

His teammates eventually get him the ball, but it takes some time before players find a good entry pass, and even then, an argument could be made they were lucky it wasn’t stolen. Once the top guys get their hands on the ball, good things usually follow, but they still need to get it in places where they are effective, which can be challenging.

However, to head coach Michael Malone’s credit, the trio has performed admirably. All three are averaging over 20 points per game and converting north of 45 percent of their field goals as members of the Kings.

Cousins still occasionally takes low-percentage mid-range jumpers, but he’s toned it down a little. Cousins is still attempting shots from the mid-range area, but he’s doing a better job of making sure he is open when doing so. Coincidentally, his conversion rate from this area has improved a little per NBA.com.

The one guy that’s really taken a step forward though is Gay. He struggled with the Toronto Raptors and relied heavily on the High-Paid Player Offense. Gay endlessly dribbled the ball, allowed defenses to load up on him, and he still took a multitude of tough contested shots. Consequently, Gay’s field goals couldn’t hit water no matter how close he was to shore as evidenced by the fact he only hit 38.8 percent of his shots as a member of the Toronto club.

Have a quick look at his shooting percentages as a Raptor from various spots on the floor over at NBA.com. And yet, Gay quickly reversed course in Sacramento. He’s been more decisive, and the offense is more to his liking.

Gay gets more one-on-one opportunities with the Kings as a result of defenders keying in on Cousins.  Hence, the former Raptor gets easier attempts at the rim, and the same is true in the mid-range area with defenders consistently retreating towards the paint. The Kings’ offense coupled with its personnel has caused a huge spike in Gay’s shooting numbers per NBA.com.

Thomas, Gay and Cousins are productive players in their own rights, but none of them truly carry the scoring burden of Sacramento. They get their points, but do little to elevate the rest of their teammates. As a result, the Kings are basically an average scoring team.

With that said, it will certainly be intriguing to see how they match up with the Pistons. Sacto’s big three could potentially get neutralized by Detroit’s players at their respective positions. Granted, Detroit is more about potential at this point (still learning how to play together) in time, whereas the Kings “stars” have reached the production phases of their careers.

Read about the Kings

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Tags: Sacramento Kings THN-SAC

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