Early Impressions of the George Karl Era


"‘Royal Roundtable’ is a new feature we’re trying out here at A Royal Pain. You can read the pilot episode on Rajon Rondo right here, and you can find last weeks RR on potential offseason moves here. Each week, we’ll throw out a topic to the writing staff, and see where the conversation goes from there. This week’s topic is ‘early impressions of the George Karl era’. Thanks for reading."

Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras): As of the writing of this introduction, the Sacramento Kings are just 4-10 since George Karl replaced Tyrone Corbin as head coach.

I don’t know what everyone expected going into the George Karl era, but personally speaking, I expected the team to look better than it has. I wasn’t expecting a miracle, but I was hoping that a new coach with a long-term contract would give the team some sort or purpose or added motivation to improve.

That could speak more on the players here than Karl’s coaching ability, but nonetheless, what are your impressions of George Karl so far? Likes? Dislikes? Observations?

Kyle Robert


: I’m not going to focus on the record to measure Karl’s impact on this team. He is trying new things, figuring out rotations, and playing without one or all of Collison, Cousins and Gay on an almost nightly basis. I also prefer they lose games at this point to assure they keep their top-10 pick.

They are playing much better under Karl. They’re consistently competitive, their offense includes less iso ball, and they’ve improved on the defensive end.

Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras): If you want to give Karl some leeway because of the injuries the Kings are dealing with right now, I can understand that to an extent. I will say that Michael Malone had to coach without DeMarcus Cousins for a long stretch too.

I like some of what the Kings are doing offensively. I’ll give Karl that. Rudy Gay has been on an incredible tear since Karl took over. Gay is a hard player to use correctly, and Karl seems to have figured that one out with ease. Derrick Williams is also playing much better, and Nik Stauskas is being used as a ball handler more now than he was under Malone or Corbin, and that is starting to show signs of effectiveness.

I can’t agree with you the improved defense, though. Under Malone and Corbin, the Kings had a horrific 106.0 defensive rating. Since Karl took over, the Kings have had the worst defensive rating in the NBA (110.2). Their -7.1 net rating is only better than New York and Minnesota.

Bad is bad. If you want to argue that their defense hasn’t gotten any worse, I might agree. The difference between 106 and 110.2 doesn’t really matter because they both indicate the same thing – The Kings can’t defend anyone. But I certainly wouldn’t say the Kings have improved defensively under Karl.

You can attribute some of that to lineup changes. He recently moved Carl Landry into the starting lineup in replace of Jason Thompson, and that will negatively affect your defense. I’m still trying to figure what that move is supposed to improve. But I have no real issue with lineup or rotation tweaks at this point. Karl has every right to experiment with this roster before they blow it up in the offseason.

Jared Stone (@JaredStone13): I think it’s difficult to really judge this team under Karl considering this season’s coaching turmoil. In regards to the defense, I feel this is something that can be fixed once Karl has a full offseason and training camp under his belt to preach his philosophy.

I agree that blowing up the roster at the trade deadline wouldn’t have made sense, and it is good that Karl has an opportunity to evaluate these players without being under pressure. This offseason is make-or-break for Pete D’Alessandro. He has to assemble a roster that can fit Karl’s system and compete for a 7th or 8th playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.

Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras): Yea, I’m not trying to pass complete judgment on Karl or anything, I just think there is probably a large portion of the fan base that bought into the George Karl ‘quick turnaround’ hype and are slightly disappointed now. I didn’t expect any miracles, but I remember there being discussions about the Kings potentially losing their pick if Karl was hired, and now that isn’t even a question anymore. They are keeping that pick.

Karl and Corbin have nearly identical winning percentages at the moment. The only reason I’m bringing that up is because maybe coaching was never really the issue? Karl is a better coach than Corbin, obviously, but the roster is subpar, and that is the real reason why the Kings remain at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Kareem Gantt (@kganttwrites):I’m on board with Jared, I think it’s tough to evaluate Karl right now. He inherited a team that needs more talent. He is trying to figure out what players fit his system for next year. Like I wrote in a column earlier, we should not expect an instant miracle from Karl. It’s gonna take some time, and we’re going to have to endure these losses, but the real test is next year. That is when we can make an accurate assessment of how Karl is handling this team.

Kyle Robert (@notoriouskro):Coaching has been the issue for some time. Corbin never ran any semblance of an offense. Malone was fine, but without Boogie, ISO ball with Rudy Gay became the go to, especially at the end of games. Yes, the roster does need to be upgraded for the Kings to be real playoff contenders, but Karl is a guy who will be able to do more with less. Adding a couple pieces this summer will make a huge difference on next seasons record.

Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras): I think we can all agree that we won’t be able to judge Karl’s tenure as Kings head coach for quite some time. I’ve already stated why I think his time here is off to a slightly disappointing start (based on my expectations going in), but he still has fourteen games left to get this team into some kind of rhythm.

He can certainly find success in Sacramento regardless of how the Kings finish up this season. Karl is a proven winner. If anything is going to keep him from figuring this thing out, It’s the mess that is this front office. Stay tuned.

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