As everyone in the basketball world now knows, the Sacramento Kings She is really good in attack. They are arguably the best offensive team in the league, which is great. But it is not enough for the Kings to pose a legitimate threat coming into play. They must be good at every aspect of the game.
Although it has looked better lately, the Kings’ defense hasn’t been where Coach Mike Brown would like it to be. We’re now over a third of the way into the 2022-2023 NBA season, and the Kings have only two opponents under 100 points in a game. They currently allow the eighth most points per game with 115.9. Of those points, the Kings allow 53.5 points to score in the paint. Fourth most in the league.
This is a glaring problem that needs attention. No matter how many points the Kings put up, they can’t expect to go into the playoffs with a poor defensive interior like this.
Fortunately for Sacramento, they don’t have to make a big deal or sign a free agent to address this issue. They have a skilled defensive player with a lot of potential waiting for his opportunity in the G-League.
This man is Nemeas Koita.
In his second year, Koita was one of the best players in the J League. The big guy is currently averaging 19.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game and is a gritty edge protector day and night. It’s developing into a great two-way company that could benefit Sacramento greatly right now.
“But he put those numbers against other players in the G-League.”
The G-League is filled with talent, dozens of players that could perform at the next level, and some better draft picks that are still very young and need some development. For example James Wiseman from Golden State Warriors and their G-League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors, who previously finished second overall.
In their rematch last month, Keita vastly outplayed Wiseman and the Stockton Kings cruised to victory in a dominant performance as he posted 36 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals. He did it while shooting 12-for-13 from the field and 8-for-9 from the tape. Simply elite level basketball against a player who should technically be the best player in the G-League.
Because Queta is on a two-way contract, he saw some minimal playing time for Sacramento this season and last season. First, let’s look at just the past year.
In 2021-2022, Koita played in 15 NBA games. In 8 minutes per game, he averaged 3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.5 blocks per game. It’s already hard to gather a lot of that, but if you check them out for all the 48 minutes of stats, Queta averages 18.1 points, 12.4 rebounds (5.6 of those offensive), 2.4 assists and 3.2 blocks per game. I know he would obviously come off the bench if he were brought up full time and not see nearly 48 minutes, but there is a lot of potential in those numbers.
Given consistent backup minutes, Queta will immediately improve two of the second unit’s biggest problems: defense and rebounding. Compared to the other senior players in the squad – Richawn Holmes, Chimzy Mito, Tre Lyles and Alex Lane – Koita is truly the most skilled in both aspects of the game. No, he can’t shoot the way Lyles and Mito can, but he doesn’t need to. He is an impressive and very athletic lob threat in the seven-footer. He also has good footwork and has the strength to undo almost any opponent.
The way we love the two-man De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, we also love the two-man Malik Monk and Queta – yes Monk and Sabonis are amazing together too. Monarchs are very wary, and the depth of their wings is much improved. Now is the time for them to go deep into the center. When Sabonis gets off the ground, opposing teams know instantly that they will control the boards on both ends and can attack the edge with reckless carelessness. Giving Queta a few real minutes to the second unit might give you everything you need to complete it.
Last night against the Lakers, Koita finally got a little burn…and it was amazing.
Nimías Koita attempted five shots on Wednesday and he did them all. It was his third NBA game of the season, but he’s an imposing tackle, and as such, it makes a lot of sense that he would be the five backup players for the Kings, depending on the game. pic.twitter.com/Z44C39vX7v
– Brett Usher (UsherNBA) December 22, 2022
In 11 minutes, he scored 10 points on a 5-for-5 from the field and three rebounds. While he only played the equivalent of less than a quarter, Keita was one of the Kings’ most influential players last night. He brought an energy and a hunger that only a man fighting to prove himself can have.
He caught some pick-and-roll balls and consistently put up some great screens for ball catchers. It is also very effective in defense in paintball. Yes, his opponents weren’t the best, but it’s still very nice to see that he understands his role early on.
With him joined, the second line-up looks like this:
- Davon Mitchell
- Malik is a monk
- Terrence Davis
- Chimzy Mito / Trey Lyles
- Nehemiah Keita
In this lineup, there are at least two players who can score, facilitate, rebound, and defend. Getting benched with minimal weaknesses could be the thing that gives Sacramento an advantage over other teams hovering over the eighth seed. Looking back at his filmography, Queta has improved a lot from his rookie year. Giving him a backup role with limited pressure may allow him to thrive even more. I’d like to see what Mike Brown and the rest of the coaching staff can get out of it.
Do you think Keita is the man the Kings need right now?