What a difference two weeks make in the fast-evolving NBA. Just when you think rookie point guard Tyrese Haliburton and the Sacramento Kings turned the corner on their season, they went on a seven-game losing streak and sunk to last place in the Pacific Division with a 12-18 record.
Two weeks ago, we raved about the Kings on an upswing. At the start of February, the Kings rattled off a four-game winning streak and won seven out of eight games to move above .500. But that’s as high as they’d get before the Kings hit the skids.
Their porous defense has been their weakness all season. Top-tier teams exploited the Kings during this run. During the losing streak, they allowed 124.2 points per game. On a typical night, the Kings’ Swiss Cheese defense allows 119.6 ppg, which ranks them dead last at #30 in team defense.
The Kings held one team under 100 points only one time this season. The low-scoring Knicks, averaging a league-low 103.5 ppg, scored just 94 points in a loss against the Kings.
The Kings allowed 110 or more points per game 14 times this season. They allowed 130-plus points five times.
The Kings have the fifth-worst against the spread record in the NBA at 13-17 ATS. The over hit 20 times in 30 games this season for the Kings, the fourth-worst record in the league for totals.
If you feel like flushing your money down the toilet or believe in fairy tale endings, the Kings winning the 2021 NBA championship pays out +50000.
Haliburton Looking Good
Rookie Tyrese Haliburton led the team in scoring for the first time this season with 23 points in a loss against Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Haliburton, the #12 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Iowa State, put on one of the best performances by a rookie through the first half of the season.
Haliburton started only two games this season, but he logs nearly 30 minutes of playing time off the bench. He’s averaging 12.8 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game, and knocking down 44.2% from 3-point range. Most importantly, head coach Luke Walton lets Haliburton play in crunch time when the game matters the most.
DraftKings listed Haliburton at +600 odds to win the NBA Rookie of the Year. That’s second-best behind LaMelo Ball from the Charlotte Hornets. Halliburton’s consistency made at least a half dozen teams regret their decision to pass on him in the draft.
The Kings have three stellar guards with De’Aaron Fox (22.3 ppg), Buddy Hield (15.9 ppg), and Haliburton. They average 21 3-pointers per game and connect at a 37.5% success rate.
The Kings also have three solid frontline guys with Harrison Barnes (15.8 ppg, 6.2 rebounds), Marvin Bagley (13.4 ppg, 7.5 rebounds), and Richuan Holmes (12.7 points, 7.8 rebounds) per game. The problem is that the Kings don’t score enough to compensate for their crappy defense.
On Deck: Nets, Knicks, Pistons
The Sacramento Kings are on the road for another three games. They’re in Gotham this week for a double-dip against the Brooklyn Nets (20-12) and New York Knicks (15-16). The Knicks want revenge over a loss back in January.
The Kings end their road trip against the Detroit Pistons (8-22) this weekend. That looks like their best chance to win a game before the All-Star break, and before we write another piece in two weeks about how the Kings lost 13 games in a row heading into the second half of the season.
The Kings host the Charlotte Hornets (14-15) and LA Lakers (22-9) back home in Sacramento before they hit the road to end the first half of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers (18-11).
The Kings are playing their worst stretch of hoops all season, but they’re not as bad as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ losing streak. The Cavs can’t catch a break and are stuck in a 10-game skid