In his first season with the Sacramento Kings, Garrett Temple has stabilized the team’s shooting guard position with his play.
Since Gay’s season-ending injury, the Kings have fought hard to keep their heads above water, winning three of their last seven games, including a big win over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Obviously leading the way for the Kings has been DeMarcus Cousins, who took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors for his monstrous play recently (Cousins averaged 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and six assists in their four games last week).
Whether the Kings’ play will hold from here on out is the big question as they’re hoping to get the necessary help that will be needed around Cousins in order to keep any hope of a playoff push alive (the Kings are currently three games out of eighth place).
Finding steady impact makers will surely be difficult, but they have a stable baseline, at least in the case of one player in particular. After signing a three-year, $24 million deal last offseason, Garrett Temple has emerged for the Kings with his steady play on both ends of the floor.
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Offensively, Temple’s averaging career highs in points per game (7.8) and true shooting percentage (56.3 percent), while also raising his three-point percentage from 34.5 percent last year as part of the Washington Wizards to 36.8 percent this year.
Along with his efficiency, Temple’s been a capable playmaker as well, averaging 2.3 assists per game, along with posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.16. While his offensive impact has been reliable, his work defensively may be the bigger story.
Despite the team’s horrific defense on the year (per NBA.com/stats), Temple has been a rare positive for the Kings on that end, averaging a positive DBPM (plus-0.1 point per 100 possessions, per Basketball-Reference.com) and ranking 13th in DRPM, ESPN.com’s Real Plus-Minus projection system.
Of course, numbers may be one thing, but plays like this one where not only Temple deflects LeBron James‘ pass out of the post, but saves the ball from going out of bounds to keep the possession alive late in the game have been his calling card throughout the year.
Beyond his performance this year, however, the arrival of Temple has a big effect on the Kings for the foreseeable future, in terms of the team’s options on the wing.
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Question marks surround Ben McLemore and his future with the team beyond this season as his potential has largely been unrealized throughout his tenure. Veteran journeyman Arron Afflalo could face similar questions considering his salary for next season is non-guaranteed.
On the other end, there’s rookie Malachi Richardson, who has thrived playing for the team’s D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, and has gotten some run with the Kings recently as well.
With that level of uncertainty, both good and bad, that’s where Temple gives the Kings some much needed security at a position that has been a sore spot for the team historically.
Sure, that may be a low bar for some, but for the Kings, finding reliable players has clearly been a challenge for some time.
Hitting the mark by adding players like Temple is the first step they need to truly rebuild and fill out the depth of their roster around Cousins. That’s obviously much easier said than done, but Temple’s already a shining example for why that’s the right road for the Kings to go down.
For now, plenty of hurdles stand in the way for the Kings on the road ahead for the rest of the season and having a player like Temple becomes very important if there’s any chance of somehow earning a trip to the postseason.