Despite losing streak, Luke Walton isn’t ready to shake up starting lineup


Walton isn’t ready to shake up lineup despite skid originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When is it time to pull the trigger on a lineup change? This isn’t the first time this season that this question has been asked with regards to the Sacramento Kings. It likely won’t be the last time either.

As the team dropped their eighth straight game on Tuesday night, a 127-118 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, there is clearly something wrong with the mix of players on the court.

Like most losses this season, it started from the opening tip. One team looked ready and the other did not. Sacramento gave up 42 points in the first quarter and trailed by 14 going to quarter number two.

It would have been much worse for the Kings if rookie Tyrese Haliburton hadn’t joined the lineup mid-quarter and not only started hitting shots, but setting up his teammates for easy looks as well.

“My confidence is growing by the day, I just need to understand what is needed by me and that’s just to be who I am,” Haliburton said. “Don’t be hesitant, I’m for a reason, right? Coach puts me in early, obviously because he trusts me. So I’ve got to take advantage of that and just be me.”

Haliburton is the future for the Kings, but he also looks like the best option for the present, especially with the continued struggles of Buddy Hield. As of now, coach Luke Walton isn’t ready to pull the trigger on a move.

“I know we’ve lost eight in a row and we’re got to get off this, but I’d like to see a little bit more,” Walton said. “We were having some really good success with how that team was playing before, so I’d like to get a little more of a sample size before making any major moves like that.

The 20-year-old out of Iowa State matched his career-high of 23 points for the second straight game and chipped in nine assists with just a single turnover. For much of the night, Haliburton was the Kings’ best player.

“I feel good where I’m at, I know there’s a whole other level to my game — a level that nobody’s ever seen,” Haliburton said. “I know that I’ve got to keep working through the years, because I think there’s another level for me to tap into. I don’t set a ceiling on my game, ever.”

Never short of confidence, Haliburton’s ability to take some of the playmaking load off of De’Aaron Fox. His play allowed the Kings’ leading scorer to score 15 of his 27 points in the final 12 minutes as the Kings tried to keep pace with the Nets.

“He’s been playing extremely well over the last two weeks,” Fox said of Haliburton. “He gives us another dynamic, another guy that can make plays on the ball as well.”

Hield on the other hand scored just 11 points on just 3-of-9 shooting. He added four assists and five rebounds and even hit three shots from behind the arc, but he can’t impact a game in the same way as Haliburton.

RELATED: Kings star Fox snubbed from NBA All-Star Game reserves

Mired in the worst shooting slump of his NBA career, Hield is shooting just 36.4 percent from 3-point range and 37.2 percent from the field this season. He also doesn’t have Haliburton’s playmaking skills or defensive range.

The key to Haliburton is that he makes everyone around him better on both ends of the court. That’s not something you can usually say about a rookie. He’s also shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from 3-point range.

While he’s slight of frame, Haliburton has shown an ability to hold his own on the defensive end. His instincts in the passing lanes are elite as well.

This was the first time in six games that Walton had his entire starting lineup healthy and together. Before making any drastic move with his first team, he wants to give this group, who had a nice run just two weeks, a little bit longer of a look to get things going.

“I don’t know if that’s the move, but we’re looking at everything,” Walton said. “The tough part is this is the same group that had won seven out of nine.”

But with Haliburton rolling and the Kings’ season slipping away, it might be time to mix things up. Haliburton likely won’t get the same amount of touches that he’s getting now with the second unit, but he’s a more complete player than Hield even 29 games into his rookie season.

Hield’s ability to score might work with the second unit as well, like it did last season after Walton swapped Bogdan Bogdanovic into the first team at midseason.

Following the loss, Haliburton was asked if he would prefer to start or come off the bench and he said all the right things.

“I’m just here to play basketball, I don’t control anything,” Haliburton said when asked about his role with the team. “It doesn’t matter to me either way. I’m a part of this team, so I’m going to help anyway I can.”

The Kings have five more games until the NBA All-Star break. Their schedule lightens up slightly over the next two, but this team is in a tailspin and in need of a win in the worst way. If they continue to struggle leading into the break, this team could look much different once they return for the second half of the season.


Source link


Scoop Sky is a blog with all the enjoyable information on many subjects, including fitness and health, technology, fashion, entertainment, dating and relationships, beauty and make-up, sports and many more.

Related Articles

Back to top button