January 8th versus the Toronto Raptors (144-123 Raptors)
De’Aaron Fox is in the lineup for this one, and his defensive deficiencies started off early at 0:14 as he got caught ball-watching and wasn’t aware of how much space he left top-notch shooter Norman Powell.
At 2:23 he basically let his matchup Malachi Flynn go to the corner while he feebly swiped at the ball to no effect. While the resulting bucket didn’t go to his matchup, it’s important to know that he really wasn’t guarding anyone; he’s at the elbow stuck between OG Anunoby and Yuta Watanabe and was lucky neither got the ball.
He did an exceptionally poor job navigating over Pascal Siakam’s screen and gave Malachi Flynn way too much space and a lane to the basket at 2:52, but Flynn settled for a floater. Fox has the potential to be a non-negative defensively, but in order to do that, his defensive positioning primarily needs work, along with his help defense. His motor often running short is a concern as well.
The clip at 4:12 is another example of the Kings’ inability to rotate and cover. Fred VanVleet was driving to the basket, and though he’s a poor finisher at the rim, he wasn’t getting deterred enough by Hield such that he couldn’t get the shot off.
Fox should have rotated to block VanVleet’s path to the rim, and the rest of the Kings should have scrambled to cover the left-open Raptors players. Having a small guard in VanVleet stuck in the paint would have wasted the Raptors’ offensive drive and killed time off the possession clock.
The game became more basket-for-basket at the 4:43 mark, with Fox late to come around Chris Boucher’s screen and Hield not stepping up to VanVleet on time. Holmes got into foul trouble early in the third quarter and, as a result, wasn’t as aggressive as he could have been in the paint. The Raptors started to take over at the 5:39 mark as Powell took advantage of some awkward positioning and footwork by Marvin Bagley to drain a triple.
Bagley was also susceptible to a drive-fake by VanVleet and conceded another triple at 6:08; he looked uncomfortable defending outside the paint. In the next clip, VanVleet switches onto Bagley and dances him out of his shoes to pass him on the way to a leaning layup. The mobility and footwork of Bagley is still an issue, and he hasn’t been consistently healthy enough to develop that side of the game.
The Raptors continued to pour in on the three-ball – 20 threes at a 51% rate – to cruise to a victory. Buddy Hield’s effort seemed to tank once the game got out of hand as he’s essentially a pylon in Flynn’s way at 7:42 and leaves too much space in transition for future King Terence Davis to drain another triple at 7:51. It’s another tough look for the Kings to concede 144 points to the then 1-6 Raptors, who were struggling offensively in nearly all major categories.