Dave Joerger Is Modernizing the Kings' Offense
Having traded away their 2019 first round pick, the Kings have no incentive to tank this season, and now we’ve gotten to see Dave Joerger unleash their young roster.
Due to his stint with the Grit ‘N Grind Grizzlies, Joerger has gained a reputation as a coach who is unwilling to both play fast and adopt a more modern style as a whole. But so far this season, he is debunking that. Check out some ways that he is revolutionizing how his team plays in order to get the most out of this energetic core.
Last year, the Kings ranked dead last in Pace (95.6) as well as bottom 3 in Offensive Rating (103.0) and 3PA (24.0), all of which are known to constitute a thriving modern offense.
So far this year, their Pace has skyrocketed to 108, good for third in the league. Their Offensive Rating has followed into the top half at 110. While their 3PA hasn’t seen quite the jump, some of that can be attributed to missing sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is set to return in a few weeks.
Much has been made of the Kings pushing the pace, but what’s the main reasoning behind it? Is Joerger admitting his faults and letting the young guys run? Most Kings fans will adamantly tell you no, as you could hear him throughout games last season yelling to “GO GO GO!” and yet, they didn’t. So now we’re finally getting to see these fresh legs out on the break, and so far it’s working.
They’ve scored over 110 in four out of five matchups. De’Aaron Fox’s speed and quickness make him the perfect point guard to get out and put pressure on the defense in the break; he’s averaging 17.6/4.8/6.6/1.5 so far and looks like an early breakout candidate.
As important as the fastbreak is, it’s only part of the offense, as executing in the halfcourt is still vital. Here are some offensive actions that are gaining popularity around the league for their effectiveness.
The Split Cut is an action that Steve Kerr famously implemented upon joining the Warriors. It does a great job of maximizing shooters and talented passing forwards. The ball is entered into the post, and the passer then screens away for a wing player. From there, it’s just playing basketball and finding the open man. Because of how quick it occurs, the defense can often find that they need to switch. Then it’s on the new ballhandler to make a read. Here’s the Warriors running it with Draymond (credit to How U on YouTube):
Now let’s look at the Kings running it with their bigs in the high post:
The fact that it was ran by Giles and Bagley speaks to their modern skills at the big positions.
Also note that Kerr didn’t invent the Split Cut, he merely re-popularized it. The Stockton-Malone Jazz were a team that famously ran it often as well.
The Spain PNR is a set that’s a bit newer, and D’Antoni’s Rockets have exploited its effectiveness greatly. The normal PNR involves two offensive players and two defensive players. What the Spain PNR does is bring in a third set of players into the fold—note that the more players involved in a play, the harder it can become to defend.
The third offensive player sets a back screen for the original screener. With so many teams Dropping their big in the PNR, Spain becomes lethal because that big is caught on a screen, and the original screening big is free to roll to the rim.
That may sound confusing, so here’s a clean clip from the Bucks running it last year:
Look at how not only Henson gets an easy lob, but Middleton is open after popping to the top of the key. It can be extremely difficult to defend.
Now here’s the Kings running it with Buddy Hield popping for 3 after Cauley-Stein sets the original screen:
The Kings have a decent mix of shooters and rim runners and this set will help to put them on display.
It may only be five games in, but Dave Joerger is making drastic, yet sustainable changes to the Kings’ offense. With how malleable this young roster is, look for these tweaks to only continue improving with time.