KD Is Staying In Brooklyn – What Does This Mean For The Toronto Raptors Season?

Many fans in Toronto got their hopes up for a potential trade that would bring superstar Kevin Durant to the North – now that he’s staying put, where does this leave the Raptors?

There were many questions and possibilities heading into the offseason for the Toronto Raptors. After a better-than-expected season in what many called a “development year,” the Raptors ended up fifth in the East AND with the Rookie of the Year in Scottie Barnes.

Masai Ujiri – President of Basketball Operations for the team – expressed his confidence in the roster at the end of their short-lived playoff run, mentioning that the team was a few pieces away from being a true contender.

Kevin Durant Wants Out

All of that shifted significantly at the beginning of free agency when it was announced that Kevin Durant wanted to be traded from the Brooklyn Nets. Quickly, the Raptors rose as a potential trade contender, seeming to have the pieces and picks that could get Kevin Durant to Toronto. There was much debate between fans and media alike about what that deal could look like – do you include Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes? Gary Trent Jr.? OG Anunoby? How many picks? It seemed like the Nets were looking to get as much as they could (understandably) for the superstar.

Then, it was announced Tuesday that KD would stay put in Brooklyn. So – where does this leave the Raptors?

Many had their sights set on Durant joining the team for an epic year, much like the 2019 run where Kawhi Leonard helped the team to their first NBA Championship. Yet, with all the chaos of free agency, people seem to forget the Raptors still have a decent amount to work with going into the season – even without KD.

The Raptors Path Forward

Keep in mind there is still lots of free agency to go and lots of moves that could still happen. Ujiri and Raptors General Manager Bobby Webster are famous for keeping tight-lipped about their plans for the team – so any moves from here on out may be sudden. For example, fans quickly switched their attention from Durant to Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz after the KD news dropped – an intriguing pickup that could solve a lot of the Raptors’ problems in the post.

Until that happens (or doesn’t), let’s focus on what the Toronto Raptors DO have. We know based on Durant trade talks the Raptors will NOT be moving Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, or Scottie Barnes. If they weren’t going for Durant, there is little to no chance they would be going for Mitchell.

Stars Of The North

Scottie Barnes

Starting with the 2021/22 Rookie of the Year – Scottie Barnes is expected to deliver BIG things this year. When he was traded fourth in the 2021 NBA Draft, many were worried about his ability to shoot – a trait that the Raptors desperately need. Not only did he exceed expectations on that front, but Barnes also proved he can be an asset all over the court.

Scottie Barnes
Nathan Denette/CP

His playmaking skills blossomed and as of right now it seems like he could take over some of the ball-handling responsibility during times Fred VanVleet is off the court. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game – numbers that are only expected to grow after getting his reps in all summer.

His size gives him the ability to guard almost anyone, and playing him at the Point Guard position makes the Raptors lineup SCARY big. Per BBall Index, Scottie Barnes was the most versatile defender among every NBA starter. He has otherworldly defensive skills.

Other notable talents include his shot-making skills at the rim, the volume of blocks per 75, passing creation, offensive rebounding, and the endurance to play a healthy amount of minutes for the Raptors. All of this as a first-year player is remarkable.

To top it all off, he quickly became a fan favorite and seems eager to develop his game with the Raptors. What more could you ask for?

Pascal Siakam

Another player we can't wait to see hit the floor this season is Pascal Siakam - who is arguably playing the best ball of his life at the moment. He missed a big chunk of the start of last season recovering from shoulder surgery, but once he got out there it was The Pascal Siakam Show. The Raptors system, plus their lack of a seasoned center AND point guard depth last season, forced Siakam to modify his game - and it worked.

Pascal Siakam
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

He was already an All-Star caliber player, but he's elevated his game to new heights. He's stronger, faster; and has developed into a scorer, shooter, AND playmaker. His 5.3 assists per game was a career-high, but he also achieved career highs in rebounds (8.5 per game) and steals (1.3 per game) in the 2021/22 season despite getting a late start. He's obviously stronger and that's evident from the way he is able to find his way to the net in a variety of situations against virtually any opponent. Expect him to continue on this as we head into the season.

Fred VanVleet

You can't talk Raptors basketball without mentioning All-Star Fred VanVleet. He stepped up in a HUGE way last season following the trade of Kyle Lowry - and expect his leadership skills to continue to develop as we head into the new season. As much as he is a leader off the court, he demands attention on the court as well. He averaged a career-high 20.3 points, 6.7 assists, and 3.7 three-pointers made through the season, played insane minutes, and broke a couple of franchise records along the way.

Fred VanVleet
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

VanVleet isn't just a good 3-point shooter; he is an outstanding one.

Bball Index Scatter Plot
BBall Index

In terms of pure ability, VanVleet stands alongside the league's marquee shooters. Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Steph Curry, Luke Kennard, Desmond Bane, and Fred VanVleet stand atop the crossroads between shooting talent and shot-making.

Depending on how the rest of free agency works out, Toronto could add another star to their already solid core. If not, you have Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, and Precious Achiuwa who are set to take huge developmental leaps this year. The team recently picked up Otto Porter Jr. who will be an excellent veteran presence on the team. You have a rookie center in Christian Koloko who could make an impact. Hey, Malachi Flynn has been looking good in the off-season as well - maybe he makes a huge impact.

The great thing about the Toronto Raptors is that the sky is the limit. They have a young core, lots of talent, and even more potential. What seemed like a few years of heavy rebuilding is turning into a fun developmental experiment that seems to be turning out great results. We can't wait to check back in later in the season to see what this young team is getting up to.

Keep an eye on this team in the upcoming season to see if the pieces come together for an incredible run!

Examining Richaun Holmes’ Rocky Season

NBA players are hardened to adversity. They’re used to it. The rigors of an 82-game season playing in the most competitive basketball league on the planet can grind a polished player to dust.

Throughout the 2021 NBA Season, Richaun Holmes experienced a different category of adversity. Troubles scoping well beyond anything you can train for, run a drill to correct, or rehab to recover. All his metrics fell in tandem with the struggles he endured.

The first injury manifested itself in November, just 18 games into the 82-game season. Holmes was sidelined with an illness that would see him off the floor for three games. This would be the first, and arguably the lightest, of the challenges he would face going forward. From that November injury on, there was a different Richaun Holmes on the floor for the Sacramento Kings.

The decline was not immediately evident. Holmes returned from his illness and looked the part, scoring 27 points on a perfect 12/12 shooting against the Lakers on November 30th. Just over a week later, he suffered a lacerated right eye against the Orlando Magic and the snowball began rolling ever-so-slowly down a steep, steep cliff.

Short-term memory makes it hard to remember, but adverse circumstances ran an otherwise promising season off the road.

Early Season Excellence

The Sacramento Kings center was on his way to career highs. In 18 games before his injury, he was averaging a career-best 14.4 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and was shooting 69% from the field thanks in part to Tyrese Haliburton's surgical distribution.

Through the first 9 games of the regular season, Richaun Holmes netted six double-doubles; in an efficient fashion. 21 points in the opener against the Blazers, 21 against the Pelicans, and 23 against the Hornets. That Blazers game? 90% from the field on 10 shots.

Tyrese Haliburton and Richaun Holmes had the pick and roll down to an art form. Holmes made 198 shots in the entire 2021 season; 60 of those shots were assists from Tyrese Haliburton. In 733 total minutes with his rising-star facilitator, he shot 10 percentage points higher on 2-point field goals.

Per BBall Index, as the roll man in the Sacramento offense Richaun Holmes scored 1.26 Points Per Possession; good for the 75th percentile among all NBA players.

Stats: BBall Index

All signs pointed to Richaun playing exactly as the Kings hoped he would when they inked him to a brand new, 4-year, contract in August of 2021. The Orlando game changed everything.

Rocky New Year

The Sacramento Kings fired Luke Walton on November 21st -- just 17 games into the season. Alvin Gentry would take over a floundering team that despite some early flashes from key players could not secure anything resembling a winning record.

That week in the NBA would see the King's new coach and Holmes first injury-induced absence. By the time he returned to start practicing and playing with his new coach, he had his right eye lacerated in the midst of a game against the Orlando Magic.

That injury would sideline him for seven games and required the use of special goggles just to get some playing time when he was able to return. He appeared in 5 games following his injury and struggled to re-adjust. Far off from his stellar start, Holmes netted 6.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game before he was taken off track yet again.

Photo Credit: Sactown Royalty

Richaun was assigned to the league health and safety protocols on January 2nd. Eight more games would be lost as Holmes barely had time to find his footing. Nine games on and eighteen games off from Thanksgiving to the first week of the new year.

He returned against the Houston Rockets on January 16th as the Kings were going into a tailspin. A reduced minutes-workload saw an expected reduction in PPG. The Kings would lose 8 of the 10 games heading into a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves; until the unexpected happened.

The Sacramento Kings New Center

The Sacramento Kings traded their budding point guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that returned 2-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis. The Kings pushed a marketable trade chip right to the center of the table and took a swing on a brand-new starting center.

Holmes missed the Timberwolves game following the Sabonis trade and when he returned saw his minutes significantly reduced. Understandably so; Domas Sabonis is an exceptional big man. Someone Monte McNair thought highly enough to trade his best young player to acquire.

But where did that leave a center who was on his way to career-highs before a multitude of injuries? Who now was without the playmaker responsible for 30% of his offensive production?

The answer was never made clear. He got four games as a newly minted backup center before injuring his back and missing more time. The results weren't pretty. With everything that transpired why exactly would they be? There was no longer a clear role, not enough minutes to find that role, and not enough games to hone that role even if he could see the floor.

Beaten down by injury, the final hurdle ended his season. An array of personal tragedies and complicated legal matters led to the Kings excusing Richaun for the remainder of a forgettable 2021 season.

Reasons For Optimism

There are plenty of reasons that Richaun Holmes can rebound in 2022. He's still the same talented player. There will be plenty of time in training camp to adjust to the new dynamic between his minutes and Sabonis minutes as the clear starter.

The Kings still employ two very talented lead guards in De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. While Haliburton was the highest-floor playmaker these two are capable of distributing competent offense

Stats: BBall Index

Per The BBall Index Davion Mitchell lands in the 89th percentile of passing efficiency in their creator archetypes -- De'Aaron Fox in the 92nd. Playmaking talent? Davion Mitchell - 86th percentile and Fox - 94th percentile.

While Sabonis will assume a high usage rate while on the floor there are plenty of minutes to spell Domas and see the floor with high-value passing to run actions and land his trademark push shot as a roll man. The Kings rolled out Sabonis 33.6 MPG in his short tenure. We will find out early in training camp how Mike Brown will deploy Holmes.

He will surely absorb all the backup minutes but it's not impossible to perceive a dual-big lineup featuring both Sabonis and Holmes. Alvin Gentry only played the two together for a grand total of seven (!) minutes last season. Not nearly a large enough sample size to draw conclusions. Spacing concerns may nip that lineup in the bud early. Those possibilities remain a mystery.

What is clear are the possibilities that Fox and Holmes open up when sharing the floor:

Per PBP Stats, the combination of De'Aaron Fox and Richaun Holmes logged an offensive rating of 113.81. Haliburton and Holmes without Fox? 101.5. The Kings traded one point guard because they believed that had another who could run an effective offense with the ball in his hands.

Video By NBA Stats

For Richaun Holmes, there should be plenty of belief that he bounces back in a big way -- Even if the volume of minutes isn't available. He remains a high-energy, efficient player that can be a valuable cog in the Kings' quest to end an excruciating playoff drought.

Donte DiVincenzo – Golden State’s Newest Underdog

Ragu is a stew that consists of stewing pieces of any type of meat in its juices with a sauce. The origin of the dish is French, but the Italians took it as their own. The term comes from the verb ragoûter, which is meant to give taste and awaken desire. 

Donte DiVincenzo is used to adversity. He appeared in nine games his redshirt freshman year before a fractured foot ended his season. Like this famous European dish, Donte DiVincenzo had his awakening in 2017. After scoring a last-second two-pointer to carry Villanova over the University of Virginia; Gus Johnson figuratively tattooed Donte’s back with the nickname “The Big Ragu”.

Donte’s Ascension

From that moment in time, he flourished. As a redshirt freshman, he was selected to the Big East All-Freshman Team and the Philadelphia Big Five Rookie Of The Year. The following season the shooting guard had a fantastic year with a statement ending: scoring 31 points for Villanova in the National Championship game, beating Michigan for the NCAA crown.

Donte DiVincenzo celebrates
Photo By: New York Times

From an injured true freshman to pick number 17 of the Bucks in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Big Ragu had everything Milwaukee needed. Ideal guard size, defensive instincts, aggressiveness, three-point shooting, and a reputation as a secondary creator to go alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. 

As was the story of his college career, Donte went from playing just 27 games (none as a starter) in his rookie season to 69 starts in his third year (66 regular seasons games and three playoff games) until a ruptured tendon in his left ankle sidelined him yet again; preventing him from seeing the floor for Milwaukee’s illustrious championship run.

He was traded to Sacramento Kings in February of 2022. A team who had once tried to trade for him in a failed Bogdan Bogdanovic deal. He was heavily pursued by the Kings organization. He left good impressions but despite all their efforts to acquire the Villanova product, the franchise opted against a qualifying offer in the offseason; leaving DiVencenzo once again on the outside looking in.

Until he signed with Golden State Warriors.

Donte DiVincenzo’s 3&D Potential

Yes, another championship team acquired his services. And, ladies and gentlemen, he may be the player the Bay Area didn’t know they needed. Here’s a bold statement: he is the perfect hybrid between Gary Payton II and Otto Porter. 

DiVincenzo arrived at the right place to exploit his full potential on both sides of the court. With an earned reputation for being an excellent accompaniment to stars as he did in Milwaukee, he will certainly try to do so with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

To play for the Golden State Warriors you have to do four things well: be smart, move without the basketball, shoot threes with great efficiency, and defend multiple positions. Donte fits these criteria like a glove.

Intelligence is hard to quantify. Basketball IQ is seen on the floor, elusive to track but you know it watching a player up close.

While intelligence is hard to measure, the ability to move without the ball and shoot threes with efficiency and volume is not. Like Otto Porter, and to some extent Gary Payton II from the corners, Donte is a competent shooter. According to NBA.com/STATS, he scored 44 of his 93 (38.1%) catch and shoot three-point attempts in 2020/21 and 59 of 136 (36.2%) in 2021/22.

This will improve the Warriors’ spacing and allow Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green, to break to the hoop and generate opportunities for themselves and their teammates. Also, to his credit, he is a very underrated secondary generator. In his 25 games with Sacramento, he handed out 18.6% of the team’s total assists over that span.

And on defense? Taking his last season in which he was healthy and at full strength – 2020-21 – according to BBall Index data he ranked in the 90th percentile in LEBRON Defensive Points Saved and 87th percentile in D-LEBRON. When compared to his former teammate Pat Connaughton in the previous season, the Bucks shooter had 69.8% LEBRON Defensive Points Saved and 61.5% D-LEBRON, the difference is intriguing.

Donte Divencenzo Stats
Data By: BBall Index

The Warriors freed up some salary cap by letting go of Gary Payton II, Otto Porter, Nemanja Bjelica, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Damion Lee; but perhaps they found a hidden gem who embodies Warrior culture and will help replace their impact.

With discipline, intelligence, solidarity, camaraderie, organization, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears, Donte DiVincenzo is still looking for his best; and in The Bay, the waves could move in his favor. Like the tide, he just needs a good push, quietly, when the night falls and nobody is around to see him work.

Jaden McDaniels—the Worst Kept Secret of the Gobert Trade

Jaden McDaniels has become a center of attention among underground NBA fans. Why? Because the Rudy Gobert trade sent massive shockwaves through the landscape of the NBA, garnering harsh media reactions. Many were astonished by the overwhelming draft capital given up for the 30-year-old center.

What Wolves fans are screaming—and media members are beginning to whisper—is that Tim Connelly and the Minnesota front office were willing to give up an abundance of draft capital to ensure they hung onto their lanky 21-year-old Seattle native. The secret is out, and there are captivating reasons why withholding McDaniels at the cost of draft picks will be handsomely rewarded.

The Hidden Brilliance Of Jaden McDaniels

McDaniels averaged nearly 26 minutes per game, starting 31. He averaged 9.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 0.7 steals per game. This volume is a far cry from McDaniels’ recent 50-ball in the CrawsOver Pro-Am.

His cumulative stats are not overwhelming. The casual fan may scoff at the hype he is garnering. Yet, all it takes is one glance under the analytical hood and a telescopic view of his tape to uncover McDaniels’ hidden brilliance.

Jaden McDaniels, The Monster Defender

The very first aspect of McDaniels’ game that requires mention is his unholy mobility and length. Though he is listed at 6’9, rumors have it that he stands at least 6’11 with an over-7-foot wingspan. McDaniels’ length and fluidity make him look as though he is levitating around the court.

His athletic profile has massive implications on his defensive ceiling. Seemingly built in a lab—his functional flexibility, short-area burst, second-jump, and inexplicably quick change of direction ability completely overwhelms unsuspecting offensive players.

McDaniels parlayed his top-shelf traits into being the best rim-protecting wing in the entire NBA as a 20-year-old. There is a lot of Jonathan Isaac to his game, finishing 2nd among non-centers in Rim dFG% vs Expected. This rim-protection metric shows that—based on shot type and location—there is an expected FG% that the average player should shoot at the rim. When going against McDaniels, players shot -7.56% less than expected. This differential adds up incredibly quickly, saving 0.22 points per 75 possessions—dramatically impacting winning over the course of a season.

His analytics playout on tape. Go watch him. He floats, contests, and recovers as well as anyone in the league at his size. He is a freak of nature at peeling off his man to obliterate weak takes with his murderous rim tendencies. He is gifted in pre-rotation. This is where he—the designated help defender—rotates a beat early to take away rolling and flaring cutters. This allows him to anticipatorily stifle offenses and nullify what is still the holy grail of offense, the layup. Fans must consider the enormity of pairing this skillset with Rudy Gobert, the best deep drop defender in basketball. McDaniels' and Gobert's strengths are multiplicative of each other. This marriage will result in exponentially sublime defensive metrics. Teams will be in the depths of hell even thinking about scoring at the rim against Minnesota.

McDaniels is also freakishly versatile and active on the defensive end. He ranked in the 99th percentile in defensive versatility according to B-Ball Index, splitting his time almost perfectly evenly between 1-4 while still spending 11% of his time guarding 5s. He also ranked in the 96th percentile in defensive miles, working like a robotically programmed box-to-box outside-backer in soccer. Running. All. Game. Long.

Jaden McDaniels Defensive Metrics
Data: BBall Index

The one downside to McDaniel’s defense is his physicality and strength. Barrell chested guards and wings can get into his thin frame and create separation. Thicker bigs can bully him and he has often resorted to fouling to stay afloat on the block. His frame is ripe for adding functional strength and as he progresses into manhood, there is no reason to doubt he will improve in this area.

A Blossoming Offensive Player

McDaniels’ game does not stop at his defensive prowess (though if it did, he would still be enticing). While the Jaden McDaniels experience is essentially defined by him regurgitating some poor guard’s layup, sprinting his lane, and drilling a corner 3 or catching a lob in semi-transition—he began expanding his horizons towards the end of last season.

His blossoming ballhandling is particularly noteworthy. He has a tight crossover and some shockingly legitimate 'hesi-tween' bag potential. He attempted only 1.5 unassisted rim field-goal-attempts per 75 possessions last season. His upward mobility offensively is tethered to his ability to double or triple that number in the next few years. He has the burst and the ability to get low and accelerate past his defender—proving expansion is plausible.

McDaniels also flashed some picturesque high-release midrange pull-up ability. He shot 44% on such shots last season. This is a particularly encouraging number that will continue to bolster his ability to attack closeouts and participate in crunch time and playoff offense.

McDaniels and this Timberwolves roster construction have almost supernaturally perfect synergy. As previously mentioned, McDaniels and Gobert will strike the fear of god into hopeful opponents every game. This allows KAT to float around with far less defensive responsibility, freeing him to contribute by ending possessions with his excellent rebounding instincts.

Rudy Gobert Holding His Timberwolves Jersey
Photo Credit: Canis Hoopus

Russell and Edwards will be self-creating a boatload of 3s and playing perhaps less-than-stellar perimeter defense. McDaniels fills every gap offensively, taking advantage of the space those shot-making gurus create. He will also fill any role defensively, locking up perimeter initiators when tasked. The perfect reality of McDaniels' fit enables Minnesota to thread the needle of competing right now while cultivating a spectacularly hopeful future between McDaniels and Edwards.

Jaden McDaniels is now officially the worst kept secret of the Gobert trade. He is worth every bit of extra draft capital that Minnesota had to give up to keep him. Young, jumbo-wings with All-Defense 1st team ceilings are worth their weight in gold. Pairing that with his growing self-creation and shooting, McDaniels projects as the perfect 4th best player on the championship team Minnesota so desperately desires.

Kevin Huerter Elevates The Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings have no qualms about their desire to break an infamous streak. Without a postseason berth since the 2005-2006 season, General Manager Monte McNair has taken bold steps in pursuit of the playoffs.

The most notable move came at the last season’s trade deadline when stalwart point guard Tyrese Haliburton was shipped out to the Indiana Pacers in a trade that landed Domantas Sabonis; a move that would start to align the roster with De’Aaron Fox’s timeline. This offseason has been another step toward the path of a postseason run.

Kevin Huerter was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks for Mo Harkless, Justin Holiday, and a heavily protected first-round pick. Huerter cures many of the ills the Sacramento Kings tried to remedy in the offseason. His two strengths: shooting and perimeter defense are exactly what the Kings have been missing, and precisely what may elevate them in 2022.

The Kings Struggles

Amid the turmoil of the 2021 season for the Sacramento Kings, they really had two clear weaknesses that plagued their chances of sustained success. They could not defend at an acceptable rate and they struggled to shoot the basketball once they traded their two best shooters for Sabonis.

Per BBall Index, the Kings were comfortably a bottom-3 defense in D-LEBRON. You can read more about LEBRON and the history of this metric at BBall Index.

Defensively the Kings were 26th in defensive rating (115.3), allowed the 4th most eFg% (0.551), and surrendered the second-most points to opponents (9,493). per Basketball Reference. Stepping back, it’s fairly easy to see what Monte McNair was thinking when he wrestled Mike Brown away from the Golden State Warriors following the reassigning of Alvin Gentry.

The Sacramento Kings’ shooting wasn’t as woeful as their defense, but they need a significant boost following the exit of volume shooter Buddy Hield and the missing the majestic efficiency of Tyrese Haliburton. The Fox-Sabonis two-man game is lethal, but for the Kings to really thrive there has to be a legitimate threat of shot-making on the perimeter.

Enter Kevin Huerter

Kevin Huerter The Shooter

Plainly speaking, Kevin Huerter can score the rock.

He has been a consistent three-point shooter from the day he entered the NBA. Averaging 38% on 5.4 attempts per game for the Atlanta Hawks, Huerter goes a long way towards replacing the sharpshooting Buddy Hield. It’s no cakewalk to do so. Buddy Hield for his career shoots 40% from distance on 7.6 attempts per game.

While the three-point numbers may seem like a slight downgrade, Huerter has a better overall Effective Field Goal percentage and shot 45.4% from the field to Hield’s 40.6% in 2021.

The advanced metrics provide perspective on his perimeter shooting

Kevin Huerter Shooting Stats
Data From: BBall Index

The ability to catch and shoot, make a high rate of shots, and find his spots all stand out. He is the perfect compliment to the Kings’ heliocentric stars. He plays with great control and performed in big moments during the Atlanta Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals one year ago.

It’s hard to imagine Domantas Sabonis isn’t thrilled with the idea of Kevin Huerter roaming the court ready to work off a pindown for an easy pass for three. Or De’Aaron Fox having space to get to the paint one-on-one and feasting with his quick step.

Kevin Huerter The Defender

Kevin Huerter will pay dividends on defense for the Sacramento Kings. For the Atlanta Hawks, he regularly defended 1 through 3; proving to be a very versatile perimeter defender. Nobody will claim Red Velvet to be a lockdown defender but Mike Brown will be expected to use his tools to trot out a capable defense.

His greatest strength is chasing defenders off the ball. Per BBall Index he was in the 98th percentile in this defensive role. He will be expected to harass moving guards while De’Aaron Fox plays up to the lead ballhandler and applies pressure. This will help clean up Sacramento’s issues with the basketball on the perimeter. Versatile defenders discourage matchup hunting and limit the free-roaming ball movement that leads to easy buckets.

Kings Film Room on YouTube just released a fantastic cutup of Kevin Huerter’s two-way abilities that is a must-watch for all Kings fans.

His off-ball prowess will make life easier for Kings defenders.

Of all Sacramento lineups that played at least 40 minutes in 2021, the best lineup the Kings could muster featured on-ball defense in the 51st percentile. Remove Davion Mitchell from the equation? 25th percentile of all NBA lineups is the best of those arrangements.

Sacramento Kings Defensive Lineup Data
Data From: Bball Index

Diehard Kings fans can get excited with Huerter hounding scoring threats off-ball while Davion Mitchell sticks the lead guard in alternate lineup situations

Lack of defensive versatility and the inability to defend the perimeter are two glaring issues that Kevin Huerter can help solve. Monte McNair has added a defensive coach in Mike Brown, a post-scoring star in Sabonis, the hyper-efficient rookie prospect Keegan Murray, and now Kevin Huerter. The Kings are hoping that with these efforts, the cowbells come roaring back at Golden One Center this postseason