Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings


San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings 9:00 pm CST February 4, 2011

SRS ranks:

Sacramento: -4.93 (25th)
San Antonio: 7.15 (1st)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective January 19, 2011) and (effective January 28, 2011):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Udrih, Evans, Casspi, Landry, Dalembert -15 in 142 minutes (-5.1 per 48 MP)
Udrih, Evans, Greene, Thompson, Cousins -7 in 111 minutes (-3.0 per 48 MP)
Udrih, Evans, Greene, Landry, Cousins +27 in 46 minutes (+28.2 per 48)

Preferred method to create shots: Tyreke Evans on Isolations

The Kings have an offensive rating of 102.7, 5th worst offense in the NBA. Part of the reason is their preference for difficult play types. Their favorite two plays are isolations and post-ups. There are only a few teams that run these plays with the frequency the Kings employ. Of these teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets have players with special skillsets and complimentary pieces, but the other four teams are poor offensively. The Grizzlies offense ranks 17th in the NBA while the Timberwolves place 23rd, the Pistons 25th and the Kings 26th. The math adds up, if you rely too heavily on low percentage plays, you’ll get low percentage wins.

The Kings run isolations on 14.5% of their plays and average 0.78 points per possession (PPP), worse than all but three teams. Tyreke Evans is responsible for many of these plays. Evans also averages 0.78 PPP on this ISOs on over six plays per game. He averages 0.61 PPP in four pick-and-rolls per game. Evans is key to the Kings transition as well, averaging nearly four PPG on these plays.

Evan’s statistics has indicated regression in performance this season, but his play has shown signs of improvement in the last 12 games. In this stretch, he has averaged 21.1 PPG with a true shooting percentage of 54.5% to go with 6.3 assists and 2.7 turnovers. These figures are not only significant improvements from the beginning of this season, but last year as well.

DeMarcus Cousins averages over five post possessions per game, but only produces 0.73 PPP. Like Evans, Cousins has also shown improvement throughout the season. (Not unusual for a rookie.) Over the last 18 games, he has averaged 17.6 PPG despite playing under 30 minutes per game.

Although his efficiency still leaves something to be desired, he has increased his true shooting percentage to a more respectable 51%. At this point, Carl Landry is a more efficient post option for the Kings, averaging 0.95 PPP over the last two seasons.

The Kings excel most offensively at crashing the boards. Cousins, Landry, Samuel Dalembert and Jason Thompson are all equally great offensive rebounders.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Box out and keep Evans outside

Last season, Tyreke Evans had an effective field goal percentage of 34% from outside and 59% inside. This season, Evans is shooting 35% outside and 54% inside. These rates are not very different, but the reason Evans has struggled is related to his shot distribution. Jumpers make up 64% of Evan’s field goals this season, compared to 47% last year. Working on his jumper in the offseason will probably pay off for Evans in the long run, but if he wants to test it against the tonight, it should be welcomed by the Spurs.

Beno Udrich has averaged an impressive 1.00 PPP on the pick-and-roll over the last two years. Udrich is an efficient scorer, shooting a remarkable 72% on shots at the rim. However, his success passing out of the pick-and-roll has been historically poor. Evans, on the other hand, is a very good passer if you consider him an off guard.

Although the Spurs should worry more about the pass when Evans handles the ball, the Kings lack of three point shooting and low assist rates make defending the isolations, post ups and pick-and-rolls much easier. There is less punishment for sending help on these plays.

The Spurs can also be more physical defensively. Although isolations usually draw more fouls, the Kings are among the worst in the league at getting to the line.

As discussed in prior posts, Ginobili has had the best success defending the isolation. George Hill is also sure to get some time defending Evans. Neal, Hill and Parker will likely take turns defensively against Udrich. Gary Neal has 94 possessions defending the pick and roll and is looking to be pretty solid when against this play, allowing 0.67 PPP.

Spurs offensive game plan: Attack Udrich on isolations and Cousins at the rim

Despite having few notable individual defenders (excluding Dalembert), the Kings are respectable defensively. They do a good job limiting shots at the rim and 3-point attempts. Only the Spurs, Celtics and Rockets allow fewer threes. Not by coincidence, only the Spurs, Knicks and Rockets allow a lower rate of assists.

The Kings do give up easy shots on the attempts they create at the rim. Although they are 5th in the league at defending the post (0.80 PPP), opponents average 10.1 PPG against them on cuts. The Kings struggle with defensive assignments after the ball rotation. They also allow 16.8 PPG on the fast break.

Individually, Beno Udrich has struggled defending the isolation, allowing 0.91 PPP over the past two seasons. He figures to defend Tony Parker, Gary Neal and George Hill. Hill and especially Parker have clearly proven to be effective options leading this play. Neal has been respectable in limited isolation plays in his inaugural season.

Omri Casspi has allowed 0.93 PPP when defending the pick and roll. However, Jefferson will probably be his defensive assignment and RJ isn’t the Spurs preferred option to lead the pick-and-roll.

Cousins is strong and appears to have some potential defensively, but his lack of discipline results in an eye-popping 5.5 fouls per 36 minutes.

The Pick


Despite 12-34 record, Sacramento has showed fight as of late – beating the Lakers in LA and the Hornets before losing to the Celtics. With Evans and Cousins improved play of late and home court advantage, the Kings could provide a tough game for the Spurs. However, the difference in team ability is much too great to seriously considering picking them.

  • Alix Babaie

    Cant’ Wait!

  • SpurredOn

    G-men (George and Gary) need to lead the bench players in coming through big tonight. I can’t blame our guys for being a bit mentally exhausted after the late win in LA, and it seems every season we have to win a close game in Sac regardless of the descrepancy in team records.

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  • Chris WAMBO


    The travel should only be about 1 hour from LA to Sacramento after an emotional game.

    Dice loolks like a young person this season!

  • DorieStreet

    Kings’ last two victories were not the result of their schedule- both the Lakers & Hornets were coming off of 3 day’s rest before those losses- Sacramento beat them in a BTB. I know it’s a BTB for the Spurs, but prove a troll is wrong on his prediction re RRT start(“You heard it hear 1st…Spurs will lose 2 of their next 3 games!!!). Bigs cannot let the rook Cousins go ballistic ala Aldridge.

  • jwalt

    Manu played 37 minutest last night. Expect his legs to be dead tonight. And if Manu has dead legs, the Spurs are a .500 team. This one could go either way, but I don’t care. Great win in LA last night.

  • betsyduncan

    Our bench has to come up big tonight! Would love to see Bonner play, too! Blair needs to shoulder the load, as well! All ‘Bs’ on the B2B!

  • C.J.

    If the game does go our way expect at least 12 minutes for splitter. Were going to need 12pt 8rb in 15 minutes or less if we expect a good run at ring number five. Will the real Spanish MVP, Tiago Splitter, please stand up?

  • DorieStreet

    Great play, Spurs. Shows a team not picking and choosing games they really want to win vs games that ‘would not so bad if lost’. Put a team out there each night to seriously play to win them all. Signs of a championship squad, no?

  • Rafael

    Very good first half by Spurs!!!TP with 16 points, Blair with 4 points and 10 rebounds, SPLITTER( playing???) 9 points and 6 rebounds.

  • DorieStreet

    40 baskets on 25 assists- way to share the ball–so much time left–predictions on final score, anyone? 116-107

  • DorieStreet

    113-110 is final====1 score difference from prediction @ 9:02pm PST on post

  • Mitch

    Great game! GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Bruno

    Great game, the best thing is : TD don’t need play much. Splitter almost do double-double, he have so much talent and made good game but sometimes looks lost in the floor. Is good to see RJ and TP playing very well consecutive games.