Is it a tailspin or a hiccup? After a 3-1 start to the season, the Kings have dropped three straight and look nothing like the team that began the year.
Have teams made adjustments against Sacramento? Have they turned up the physicality? Did the Kings regress over a short stint? Has a series of tweets between players' parents damaged the delicate balance of the locker room?
It’s probably a combination of many things, but the end result was a 137-106 drubbing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
According to De’Aaron Fox, the outside noise hasn’t impacted the team behind the scenes and if that is someone’s focus, they’re playing the wrong sport.
"I don't think anyone is out there playing basketball worrying about two tweets," Fox said. "And if you are, this ain't what you should be doing because m-----------s are going to tweet you everyday of your life while you're playing in this league. So if that's what you're worried about, then I don't know what to tell you."
According to Glenn Robinson III, Harrison Barnes spoke to the team after the game as one of the veteran leaders of the squad. It wasn’t an airing of grievances, but a want to return to the style of play the team won with early in the year.
“We had HB talk up and speak up after the game,” Robinson III said. “We’ve just got to continue to work together. We can’t get too frustrated about things.”
The fact that the team already needed a moment like this is concerning, although winning seems to be the best cure for issues like this.
If it’s not the external distractions, then the team has a lot of work to do on the practice floor. The spacing and player movement is gone and the team is forced to shift into hero mode for long stretches of the game.
Through the first four games of the season, coach Luke Walton’s squad was running down hill on their opponents. They dominated the glass, got to the free throw line and the ball moved smoothly on the offensive end.
“It was ball movement, body movement, guys touching the paint, we’ve been winning the glass battle, we’ve been getting to the free throw line, we’ve been having a lot of points in the paint,” Fox said. “That was our recipe.”
In the loss to the Warriors, the Kings won the rebound battle and they went to the free throw line 25 more times than their opponent. Those are both strong indicators for this team.
They also lost the points in the paint battle and they struggled to 21 assists, with seven of those coming after the game was well out of reach in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to find a way to move the ball, we’ve got to find a way to get our shooters shots, we’ve got to find a way to continue to work together,” Robinson III said.
The spacing was gone, as was the player and ball movement. Even Walton admitted that his team “just played bad basketball.”
As is customary with this team, when things go wrong on the offensive end, it carries over to the other side of the ball as well.
“The offense and the defense, they are separate, but they kind of play off each other, right?” Walton said. “When the ball is not moving, you don’t have the same type of defensive energy. When you’re not making the extra pass, then you’re not rotating the extra amount on defense. So they kind of go hand in hand.”
Sacramento is about to start a seven-game homestand and there is hope that rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton is close to returning. The homestand will allow for more practice time and Haliburton has been a tremendous playmaker off the bench early this season for the Kings.
Home cooking and another playmaker might be just what the doctor ordered.
In a condensed 72-game season, the Kings don’t have a lot of time to right the ship. They’ll need to find common ground as a group and work to play for each other if they hope to bounce back and snap their three game losing streak.