When it comes to being “good” in the NBA, the difference between being an upper echelon talent and less than is usually separated by the efficiency of the said player. Give a player enough opportunities, be it shots or what have you – they’ll put up stats.
However, what separates the talent disparity is how efficient a player can be in their role. While there is an occasional exception to every rule, for the most part, you could put a player into the number one role on a team and they could put up statistics similar to that of an All-Star talent, but their efficiency in doing so will be well below that of the true “star” who can do the said actions at a much more efficient clip – the difference being what makes them the All-Star.
I bring this up because the Sacramento Kings – while flooded with individual talent – aren’t exactly an endorsement for efficiency. Across the board the Kings have players who can put up stats, but they’re completely inefficient in doing so, like a DeMarcus Cousins who struggles to put up respectable percentages that are comparable to his counterparts or Tyreke Evans who is one of the most inefficient perimeter players in the league. That’s not to say the players aren’t talented – they’re simply flawed – but they’re far from alone.
Every sport has a position that can help make their team look better than they might actually be, per their talent level. In football, it’s the quarterback or running back who can hide the offensive flaws – in baseball it’s the defense up the middle (catcher, shortstop) that can turn a sub-par defensive squad into something more than that. In basketball, generally, it’s the point guard who can elevate the play of their fellow teammates on the offensive side of things.
Make no mistake, a good point guard doesn’t mean you need a superstar like Steve Nash or Chris Paul running the ship, but what you do need is an efficient game manager – especially in a situation like Sacramento where your stars, talented as they are, hold significant flaws. That’s not to say Isaiah Thomas or Aaron Brooks don’t hold a place in the league (or on the Kings, for that matter) but neither player (at least right now) is a true NBA starting point guard, Thomas mostly because he lacks the experience and Brooks because he lacks the ability.
Now, I know what Brooks lovers will say – “but he scored 19 points a game in Houston111!1!!1!” – great. That’s not what the Kings need though. What they need is a player who can see the floor like a true point guard can – one that can make a play in his head before executing it on the floor – a point who doesn’t continually dribble down the clock or put his fellow players in poor positions because of his lack of decision making. I’m not trying to harp on Brooks (or Thomas for that matter) – as I said before, they certainly have roles in this league but the Kings need a unique type of player to mesh with their current cast of characters. What the Kings need is a player who can make the game easier for Tyreke and DeMarcus – who can get the ball to the right place at the right time.
Right now, the Kings don’t have players that can make their fellow teammates better – it’s really that simple. They look like a collection of players playing their own games, which they’re essentially doing. We’ve seen momentary glimpses of what this team can look like when the ball moves and the correct passes are made, but its rare and the periods of high level play don’t last long.
While a traditional floor general wouldn’t take this team into the playoffs, they’d certainly improve the team simply by making the rest of the squad – especially the main scorers – more efficient, which is desperately needed.
The difference between winning and losing in the NBA is very small – the difference usually coming in a few possessions, namely efficiency in keeping control of the ball (turnovers) and efficiency in the team shooting percentage. It sounds silly, but a few less turnovers a game mixed with a few extra easy baskets can honestly be the difference in a game and can turn a 25 win season into a 35 win season or a 35 win year into a 45 win year. Again, a true floor general isn’t going to turn the Kings upside down and be a miracle worker, but it’s one of the places the Kings really need to start with because what they have right now (combined with other factors) simply isn’t getting the job done.