Basketball

Sacramento Kings Before and After Luke Walton

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The Sacramento Kings currently sit at 10th place in the NBA western conference, sporting a 13-19 record. The Kings are 5-5 in their previous 10 games, 7-9 at home, 6-10 on the road. Recently, the Kings and the NBA, in general, have had a LOT of players missing games due to league COVID protocols. That has left many teams scrambling to find legitimate players to fill the necessary 8 roster spots to be able to ‘officially’ play a game.

Recently, the Kings have been missing many crucial players. Richaun Holmes due to injury, as well as De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis, and even interim head coach Alvin Gentry due to protocols. The Kings’ versatility and depth have shown through in tough fought games, featuring many second and third-string players getting their chance.

This has been a great opportunity for those reserves and has hopefully added some FIRE to the guys who are currently out. With the ‘regulars’ out, this also gives the Kings coaching staff and front office a look at a larger sample size of the guys who don’t normally get regular minutes, and how they can do against top-level NBA talent.

With all that going on … let’s compare how the Kings are doing during and after the firing of former head coach Luke Walton on November 21st!

2021-22 With and Without Luke Walton

The Kings fired coach Luke Walton on November 21st, after losing 6 of 7 games and starting the season at 6-11. Alvin Gentry (5-6) has taken over in the interim, and Doug Christie (2-2) has taken over since Gentry entered league protocols.

During the 17 games under Luke Walton as head coach this season, a few of the Kings’ stats stuck out to me – defensive rating of 110.5, per-game averages of 109.1 points, 21.1 free throws attempted, 77% FT shooting, 35.5 three-pointers attempted, 33.8 3PT % and 22.4 assists.

During their previous 15 games under Gentry and Christie, a few numbers stick out to me – 5-3 at home, 2-5 on the road, 115.4 defensive rating, per-game averages of 112.9 points, 24.7 FT attempted, 73% FT shooting, 33.8 three-pointers attempted, 33.5 3PT % and 22.3 assists.

Out of those numbers, not much really sticks out as being remarkably different between ‘regimes’. The defensive rating improvement is nice. Though, there is some outside influence with many teams experiencing recent roster shortages due to COVID protocols.

Aside from the hard stats, there seem to be a few differences to the ‘eye’ after the departure of coach Walton. The Kings seem to have been playing with a bit more FIRE than before. Buddy Hield seems to have less ‘free reign’ when he is making mistakes and hurting the team, despite his ELITE shooting capability. Inconsistency has been a constant for the franchise and for Hield.

One bright spot in all of the COVID protocol roster thinning is that the Kings have built one of the best NBA G-League programs in the league with the Stockton Kings.

Christie Cowtown Coaching Conspiracy

Some SacTown conspiracy theorists claim that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive really wants former Kings player, and fan favorite, Doug Christie at the head coaching position, regardless of whether is ready or not. Historically, Ranadive has BANKED on hiring former Sacramento Kings glory-era players to guide the team and … well … put butts in the seats when the team on the floor isn’t doing very well.

Perhaps Christie will be ready to be an NBA head coach in the future, but right now, I think the Kings need a more VETERAN coach to lead this inexperienced squad, front office, and ownership group. Though, that’s a whole ‘nother article, or book, waiting to be written.

Upcoming Schedule for SacTown

Sacramento starts a 6 game homestand tonight, Wednesday 12/22, against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Kings will get a nice holiday break before taking on the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday 12/26, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday 12/28, and the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday 12/30.

What Do YOU Think?

Let us know your thoughts and observations about the Kings with and without Luke Walton as head coach this season.

GO Sacramento Kings!

-Tom Witt

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Tom Witt has been in sports media for just under a decade. He started off freelancing, earning a role as an editor and Sacramento Kings writer at Overtime Heroics.

He also is an avid Spikeball fan/competitor (roundnet is the name of the sport played on Spikeball equipment) - Tom is also the head editor at the Roundnet World blog.