Kings news: Luke Walton will be putting major emphasis on defense in Sacramento
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Luke Walton will be putting major emphasis on defense in Sacramento

Luke Walton

At his introductory press conference on Monday, new Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton told local reporters he is going to be putting a huge emphasis on defense next season.

The Kings gave up 115.3 points per game in 2018-19, a number that ranked 26th in the NBA. Walton says he loves offense, but that defense ultimately wins championships in basketball:

“Defense wins championships,” Walton said. “I love offense and how beautiful it can be when you have five guys moving the ball, but defense is what wins when it really counts. So we’ll put a huge emphasis on defense and challenge our guys daily.”

The Kings showed this season they can score the ball at a high-level. Sacramento averaged 114.2 points per night, which was good for ninth in the league.

However, putting up points at will in the NBA doesn’t matter if you can’t stop your opponent from scoring. If the Kings had been just a little bit better on defense in 2018-19, they might have been able to sneak into the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Sacramento’s defensive personnel isn’t worthy of an elite defense, but it is certainly good enough for them to be respectable on that side of the ball — and make major strides over time.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox can be extremely disruptive on the perimeter when fully engaged, while promising young big men Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles both showed flashes of being able to switch onto ball handlers this season and protect the rim.

Every team in the Western Conference can score, but the teams which are elite on defense are the ones that survive the rugged West. We’ll see if Walton is able to get the young Kings to buy into his philosophy in 2019-20.