SACRAMENTO -- The struggle is real. An 0-5 start for the Kings was not what anyone in Sacramento expected. It's a jarring turn of events that had the fans booing loudly Wednesday evening and both the coach and the players searching for answers.
What is wrong with the Kings? Can they wake up from their slumber and get back on track? At what point does someone get fired or traded or...fired?
The team has avoided the blame game so far, but it's clear that without a win, frustrations are about to boil over. Here are five issues that need immediate attention if the Kings are going to turn the season around.
Third Quarter Woes
In four of the five games the Kings have played, they either led or were tied going into halftime. In more than one of the games, Sacramento led big in the second quarter and allowed teams to narrow leads heading into intermission.
Things have spun out dramatically in the third quarter in every game. Sacramento has been outscored 158-96 in the 12 minutes following the half this season. Their best third quarter in the first five games they were outscored 27-17. That was also the game against Utah where Luke Walton pulled his entire starting lineup four minutes into the second half.
Teams are using the halftime break to make adjustments and take away what is working for the Kings. Be it coaching or players, the team does not have a counter for what the opposition is doing. Effort and energy has been an issue here and there, but so has scheme and execution.
Walton said he wanted to see his team shoot 35 3-pointers per game. Through five games, they are averaging exactly 35 3-pointers attempts per game, including a whopping 46 attempts in the loss to Charlotte.
Unfortunately, the Kings are hitting just 33.1 percent of their long range shots, compared to 37.8 percent they hit last season. It's not just one player, it's most of the rotation that has seen a massive dip in 3-point percentage.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is shooting just 27.8 percent from distance on six attempts per game. After knocking down 38.2 percent last season with Atlanta, Dewayne Dedmon is hitting 18.2 percent and is almost out of the rotation just a week into the season after signing a three-year, $40 million contract.
Trevor Ariza is struggling. Harrison Barnes is struggling. Even Buddy Hield has missed plenty of open looks. Shooting is contagious. It appears that missing shots is as well.
Whether it's forcing shots or just flat out missing, the Kings are struggling with efficiency from behind the arc. When the team turned the ball over too much, Walton slowed down the offense. When they can't hit their perimeter shots, the solution shouldn't be to take more. The Kings are shooting 41 percent from the field on then season, which ranks 29th in the NBA.
Not only are the Kings shooting 41 percent from the field, they're allowing their opponent to hit 49.9 percent overall and 39.3 percent from deep. Walton and his staff are installing a new defensive scheme and adding in a switching element, but the transition is slow.
Sacramento is leaving shooters open on the perimeter and they are struggling to keep opponents in front of them. Part of this issue has to do with their offensive struggles. When you miss shots and turn the ball over, it's hard to get back and set up your defense.
The Kings are forcing turnovers, picking up steals and defending the rim. They are just a step slow in their rotations and struggling with communication. It will take time for the group to build chemistry and the effort has to improve on the defensive end.
The Kings have an entire squad built for speed and so far, the team is posting the league's 21st fastest pace. Instead of building off of last year's success and adding wrinkles, Walton is almost starting over from scratch.
Turnovers were an issue in the opener against Phoenix when the team turned the ball over 27 times. Walton said wanted the team to clean up those issues before emphasizing pace. The Kings have done a much better job of holding onto the ball and it's time for them to hit the jets.
While the players came into camp in good playing shape, Sacramento didn't focus on running like they did last season. They'll need to do some extra cardio if they hope to get back to the team that shocked the NBA world last season with their fun brand of hoops.
General manager Vlade Divac spent big in the offseason. So far, he's getting very little for his investment from Dedmon and Ariza. Dedmon already lost his starting job, at least temporarily, and Ariza is in danger of seeing a further reduction in court time.
The sample size is small, but Dedmon is averaging 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game. He's shooting 34.6 percent from the field and is just 2-of-11 from behind the arc so far this season.
Ariza is seeing a major dip in playing time after averaging 34 minutes per game last season between the Suns and Wizards. He's averaging just 3.8 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes per game off the Kings bench and his shooting numbers are abysmal. The 16-year NBA vet is knocking down just 30 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep through five games.
On the plus side, free agent acquisition Cory Joseph looks solid in his first week as a King and newcomer Richaun Holmes has stolen away the starting center job and he's already a fan favorite.
The Kings need more from everyone in the rotation, but especially from the players that they invested heavily in over the summer to help solidify the roster.