David Joerger and I have had a very up-and-down relationship since the 2016-2017 season when he became head coach of the Sacramento Kings. When he first joined, I was just excited to see someone who wasn’t George Karl coaching Demarcus Cousins. It also didn’t hurt that Joerger was very experienced in coaching post players like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in Memphis.
For the first half of his inaugural season, everything was great. It appeared Demarcus Cousins was actually happy for the first time since coached by Mike Malone. The Kings were in the playoff race, but then, Vlade Divac shipped Cousins to New Orleans in return for Buddy Hield, a few draft picks, and a few trivial roleplayers.
That first half of the season showed me what kind of coach Joerger could be, so while I knew our next couple years may have been rough in the record department, I told myself I would stand with our new head coach.
Fast Forward to 2019
Finally, the Kings have given Dave Joerger a group of players capable of winning games. At the all-star break, the Kings were 30-27 and shocking the landscape of the Western Conference as they had a legitimate shot at the playoffs. It appeared that the Spurs, Clippers, Lakers, and Kings would be in a four-way race for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference. The second half of the season would be major for all four teams.
At the deadline, the Clippers traded away team leader in points and rebounds, Tobias Harris, essentially giving up on the season and looking to the future. With the Spurs likely locked into the seventh seed due to head coach, Gregg Popovich alone, the final seed would likely come down to the Kings and the Lakers. Of course.
With the early 2000’s rivalry between the Kings and the Lakers officially reignited, it would be safe to say that the two teams should be giving it their all for the remainder of the season right? Unfortunately, you are severely incorrect. In fact, the only team of the four with a winning record since the all-star break are the Los Angeles Clippers who ironically just beat the Kings and will play the Lakers later on this week.
Now, how are all of these losses Dave Joerger’s fault you might ask? The answer is simple. DAVID JOERGER DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO COACH A BASKETBALL TEAM. In the Kings’ last two games alone, Joerger continues to make questionable decisions without wins to back his decisions. Let’s take a look at a couple of his worst.
Prior to the specifics, I have written countless articles in the past about how Buddy Hield deserves more control of the offense. I will talk a little bit about that, but for more information, read this.
In the Kings’ loss to the Bucks on February 27, Joerger had potentially one of the worst coached games I have ever seen in NBA history. Starting the recap at the beginning of the second half with the Kings trailing 73-62 (a double-digit deficit at the half; no surprise there), David Joerger allows Buddy Hield to take over the offense in the second half after he only scored seven points in the first half with minimal opportunity.
It was Buddy who singlehandedly brought the Kings back into the game with 21 points in the second half. He made plays for himself and others, hit tons of threes, and even tallied three steals on defense. With Hield’s unbelievable second half performance, the Kings found themselves in a tie game with 11.4 seconds remaining on the clock and a chance to win the game. How does Joerger decide to reward Hield for his second-half play? He gives De’Aaron Fox the opportunity to run an isolation play that would eventually lead to a turnover. Buddy Hield stood uselessly in the corner on this play.
Tonight, in the Kings loss to the Clippers, David Joerger seemed to have made one of the most simple mistakes imaginable. The score was 112-109; the Kings were down by 3. With just under 16 seconds on the clock, Buddy Hield stole the ball from Montrezl Harrell who had just picked up an offensive rebound. Hield started the fast break with a long pass up the court to Harrison Barnes who proceeded to barrel into Danilo Gallinari and get called for the charge.
How was that Joerger’s fault? THE KINGS HAD TWO TIMEOUTS REMAINING AND THEY WERE DOWN BY 3 ANYWAY. Obviously, Barnes was the guy who made the mistake on the court, but as the coach of an NBA team, you’d think you’d be smart enough to call the timeout and set up an open three-point shot from your best player, Buddy Hield. Instead, the Kings would walk out of Golden One Center the losers of three games in a row.
If Joerger doesn’t figure it out sooner than later, the Kings’ playoff drought will continue for at least one more year. Kings fans are numb to the pain at this point, but in the past two game alone our head coach threw away games late in clutch situations.