Entering training camp, questions were posed in this space for every Kings player. For Sacramento’s All-NBA center Domantas Sabonis, it was asked whether the big man will “comfortably hit jumpers when challenged to do so?”
Sabonis was frequently challenged to take jumpers in the postseason as Golden State’s defenders sagged off of him. He did not hit them at a convincing clip, nor did he always look willing to take those looks.
There were several factors that contributed to why Sacramento lost that playoff series, but it’s hard not to wonder how different things could have gone had Sabonis reached into his back pocket to take and convert those opportunities.
The question about his shooting for the season ahead appeared to focus more on future playoff series since any correlating issues never really surfaced during the regular season. Sabonis, after all, was above average from the midrange and he shot over 37% from beyond the arc, albeit all on a fairly low volume.
However, after Sunday’s preseason game against—ironically enough—the Warriors, it seems like Sabonis has carefully considered how much jump shooting can diversify the offense.
Sabonis attempted four jump shots outside the painted area, hitting three of them. Two of his makes were three-point shots, and the third was a turnaround fadeaway from 16 feet out.
Furthermore, he had a couple short range floaters and push shots go in.
He was not at all hesitant to take these shots that were, again, essentially given to him with a challenge from Golden State’s defense.
Mark Jones and Richard Jefferson were on the call for the game, which was broadcasted on ESPN, and both agreed that perhaps Sabonis should increase the volume of his jump shots.
The importance of spacing surrounding Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox is self-explanatory as the big man is an excellent passer from anywhere, especially from the top of the key and elbow, and as the star point guard is one of the hardest players to stay in front of.
Adding more of an outside threat from Sabonis is one of a few ways in which the Kings can improve off of a historically good offensive season a year ago.
The Warriors did a masterful job of disrupting the Kings’ dribble-handoff game, playing physically to make three-point attempts difficult for some of Sacramento’s best shooters. With defenders sagging off Sabonis, it left the offense with less options, and it remained that way with the hesitancy and struggles to convert those jumpers.
If Sabonis proves he’s more willing and capable of hitting such looks, it opens things up for both cutters and spray three’s. Moreover, it makes it harder to exploit any one aspect of the offense.
Not all teams are going to defend that way or do so that effectively, but even so, the options will nonetheless multiply immensely for the team’s ability to score.
It was one preseason game, but if Sunday’s shooting performance was any indication of what’s to come this season, then there is a chance for the Kings to be even scarier offensively.
Defense is critical to taking the next step, but avoiding predictability on the offensive end can work wonders for this team as it embarks on a tough task to be one of the top teams in a conference—and division—that appears far tougher.
It’s difficult to imagine that Domantas Sabonis and the team as a whole can improve offensively, but a stronger outside threat from the star big man is probably the most obvious adjustment to achieve that.