3-1 ain’t that bad. That is the mantra the Sacramento Kings have after returning from a four-game road trip out east. Of course, the one loss was a 144-109 blowout at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
At 6-4 on the season, there is a good vibe around Sacramento. The Kings have played a tough schedule, including seven out of their first 10 away from Golden 1 Center. Now they return home to face a difficult four game schedule beginning Wednesday against the 9-1 Raptors.
Here are two positives and two negatives from the Kings loss to the Bucks.
Consistency from the guards
De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are both finding their niche in the Kings uptempo style of play. Fox is the ringleader, but Hield is there every step of the way so far this season.
In Milwaukee, the pair continued their strong play, with Fox pushing the tempo and finishing at the rim while Hield launched targeted jumpers in the flow of the offense.
These two are growing every game and showing more and more of what they are capable of. Fox finished with 15 points, six rebound and six assists in 25 minutes and Hield added 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting. With the game out of hand early, neither player stepped foot on the floor in the fourth quarter.
Iman Shumpert started at the three, but like his frontcourt mates Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica, he had a rough game. With not a lot going right, coach Dave Joerger turned to Justin Jackson and Troy Williams and received plenty of production from both.
Jackson had a career-best 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with four makes from behind the 3-point line. Williams was a perfect 3-for-3 from deep and added 11 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
The minutes are going to get scarce at the three once Bogdan Bogdanovic returns this week. Both players made a case for staying in the rotation.
The Kings are going to get into a lot of shootouts this season, but allowing 144 points is not a good look, unless you manage to score 145. The Bucks attacked the key and when they broke down the Kings’ defense, they launched from the perimeter.
Milwaukee launched 56 3-pointers, knocking down 22 from long range. It came from every angle, including makes from 11 different players.
This is the second time in the first 10 games that the Kings have given up 144 or more and they’ve lost both contests. They are allowing 119.3 points per game, which ranks 26th in league, but they’re defensive rating of 111.8 ranks 18th.
Stopping the run
Sacramento plays at breakneck speed. They are building their identity around playing with pace, which more than fits their roster makeup. On occasion, the shots stop falling and you have to reset and look for a high percentage basket to stem the tide.
The Kings don’t have that kind of mechanism yet. They might not even have a player ready to accept the responsibility as a go-to scorer in these types of situations.
Last season, the young players relied heavily on Zach Randolph to break runs and keep them out of large deficits. Bogdanovic might be the best candidate to recognize this issue and calm the game down, but he’ll need time to find a rhythm on the floor after missing the first 10 games of the season.