One of the biggest boons for the Sacramento Kings’ ascension last season was their success on the road. The Kings went 25-16 away from Sacramento, the best road record of any Western Conference team and tied for 2nd in the league overall. Mike Brown had his squad fired up for road games, and the numbers speak for themselves; their blistering, record-setting offense didn’t take breaks for away contests, finishing second in the league in offensive rating in road games (115.7). And while the Kings weren’t ever considered a dynamic defensive squad, they did surprise their rivals on the road, finishing 8th in defensive rating (113.8) in road games across the whole NBA.
But when playing in the gorgeous Golden 1 Center, the Kings weren’t as successful in securing wins or defensive success. They went 23-18 in Sacramento—a massive improvement from the drought seasons, but tied for 14th overall in the league for success in 2022-23. While their offensive rating (121.6) at home was record-breaking, their defense rating was way worse, tied for 28th in the league (118.2). They gave up more points, forced fewer turnovers, and allowed opponents to shoot better in Sacramento than they did elsewhere.
Did I throw too many numbers at you? Here’s the gist; the Kings were great across most of last year, but their records, point totals, and advance numbers show they were better on the road than in Sacramento. What’s up with that? Do Kings players know the secret late night party spots in Sacramento, while their rivals still all think this is just a cowtown and thus get more rest? Does the team need the inconsistencies and inconveniences of travel and sleeping in hotel beds to get in a better state of mind for defensive focus? Did the roar of rival crowds spur them harder than that of the best fanbase in sports (I can’t believe I just typed that)?
To stay competitive in the competitive Western Conference, it would be great to see the Kings continue their success on the road this year. But it would also be great if they could win a bit more in Sacramento.