Sacramento Kings: Shooting Woes Continue in Preseason


A big focus this offseason for the Sacramento Kings was addressing their shooting problem from last season. The Kings found themselves in the bottom half of shooting teams last season, ranked 20th in both three- and two-point shot percentage.

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Bringing in shooters this summer like Marco Belinelli and Seth Curry was supposed to help alleviate those problems, but so far the Kings have continued to struggle making shots on most nights, despite their 4-1 record.

Sacramento ranks 23rd in three-point percentage and a decent 14th in field goal percentage, which one would think is certainly boosted by the presence of efficient paint scorers Kosta Koufos and DeMarcus Cousins.

But actually, the painted area has been a weakness for the Kings’ offense this preseason. Sacramento is 19th in the NBA on shots within five feet of the rim. Sacramento is actually a top ten team in shots taken between five and 24 feet away.

So it’s not Boogie doing work down low that’s been effective for the Kings so far in October–it’s actually been their mid-range game. That’s…unexpected.

Of course Cousins has developed more of a mid-range game as his career has progressed, but still, it’s strange seeing a team anchored around their big men (Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein) that does the bulk of their scoring a bit farther from the basket.

Some of that comes from the addition of Rajon Rondo. Rondo helps the offense by setting up guys with shots in all areas, but his drives and kicks have been especially good at setting up jump shooters for the Kings.

Oct 13, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (0) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The hope was that Sacramento’s three-point shooting would improve as well, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case this preseason. That may be more on the players taking the shots than the ball movement, however.

Just five Kings have shot better than 30 percent from long-range, and supposed sharpshooter Marco Belinelli just barely makes that group, shooting just 31.4 percent from three-point territory.

The Kings’ leader in three-point accuracy, Duje Dukan, has only attempted two three-pointers. Although I like Dukan’s game, he’s clearly not been affecting the team’s collective shooting percentages much in his mere eight minutes of play.

Three players are currently holding up the team as far as long-range shooting is concerned. Darren Collison, James Anderson and Rudy Gay are all shooting between 42 and 45 percent from deep, and Gay and Collison are second and third in attempted threes this preseason.

So luckily, those two (and to a lesser degree, Anderson) are helping to prevent Sacramento from dropping to the bottom of the NBA in three-point percentage. Somewhat unluckily, Belinelli has attempted more shots from distance than Gay and Collison combined, and he’s been shooting merely okay.

Ben McLemore isn’t helping things either. He’d upped his three-point percentage nearly four percentage points from his rookie to sophomore season, but that improvement seems lost this preseason–McLemore has only made 25 percent of his three-point attempts this October.

Oct 10, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) shoots a three point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 94-90. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo has struggled as well, although it’s a surprise to nobody. He’s made just two of his ten three-point attempts, but the fact that he’s taken ten shots from beyond the arc is probably more surprising than his low conversion percentage.

Omri Casspi‘s been having a strangely quiet preseason after leading Sacramento in three-point shooting last season. He’s taken just four shots from beyond the arc in his 56 minutes of play, and has only made one of the four.

And then there’s Boogie. Cousins has been trying to add a long-range aspect to his offensive repertoire this summer, but he’s still a poor shooter from beyond the arc. Cousins has only made one of his ten attempted three-pointer.

More likely than not, guys like Belinelli and Casspi will start to shape up and shoot better as they play more basketball. The Kings should improve on their poor three-point shooting from last year, but not by too much if Boogie Cousins continues to waste possessions with long-range attempts in the regular season.

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