turning off 117.3 (2) DefRtg: 115.2 (22) NetRtg: +2.1 (7) a step: 101.2 (10)
With average efficiency in the league a huge jump from last season, the Kings have the seventh most “improved” defense in the league, even though they allow more points per 100 possessions than they did in 2021-22 (114.8, 27). Allowing them to be 1.5 per 100 more than the league average, this will be their fourth-best defensive season in the 17 years since they last made the playoffs. But that’s still not good, and the Kings went into the second half allowing 124.8 points per 100 possessions over the last six games, with only the Blazers and Rockets allowing more in that stretch.
Turning things around at that end of the floor can be difficult because the Kings have twice as many games left against top-10 offenses (10) than they do against bottom-10 offenses (5). The Kings are also one of four teams with six consecutive players left on their schedule, and the first of the six outright. They will host the Blazers (who are fifth offensively) on Thursday and then begin a three-game trip in Los Angeles on Friday, having split the first two games with the fourth-placed Clippers (who lead them by three games in the loss column).
The Kings are 70% of the way toward ending the longest running drought in NBA history, and while there are three teams — the Clips, Suns, and Mavs — that clearly have the potential to catch up to them, it will take a fourth to get them out of a guaranteed playoff zone.
Three numbers to find out…
1. The Kings saw the league’s largest jump in winning percentage (+196) and the third largest jump in points difference per 100 possessions (+7.3) from last season.
2. They are one of three teams—the Nets and the Mavs being the others—that rank in the top 10 in shooting field goal percentage (61.4%, second), midfield field goal percentage (44.2%, fourth) and 3-point shooting percentage (36.5%) , ix).
3. The Kings starting lineup has played 661 minutes, most in the league and 544 more minutes than any lineup played last season. He outscored opponents by 4.0 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranks 13th among 27 lineups who have played at least 200 minutes.
Nineteenth week: vs. POR, @LAC, @OKC
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