The Sydney Kings continue to be the laughing stock of the NBL with yet another forgettable performance, this time losing 103-79 to Melbourne United, a whopping 24-point blowout at home.
A promising first half for Sydney came crashing down as United put on a 28-13 blitz that put the game away for good in the third quarter. Jerome Randle top scored for Sydney with 26 points and five assists and Perry Ellis notched 13 points and eight rebounds. Casper Ware had 26 points while Josh Boone and Chris Goulding chipped in 18 points apiece for United.
Kings Head Coach Andrew Gaze summed it up well.
“Our defence was poor. It was embarrassing, there’s no other way to describe it.”
Mathematically, the Kings still have a chance to make the playoffs if they win their nine remaining games. However, six of those games are up against the TOP 3 contenders. They need to WIN it all, but what are the chances of beating Perth, Melbourne and New Zealand? Kevin Lisch’s return from injury could change their fortunes, but he has been a non-factor for the Kings since going down in Round 2.
The supposed system is broken and clearly not working for Gaze and company. There is no other way to sugar coat it. It is what it is. The players have not bought into their team’s mission and vision and the coaches have no viable answers to defence-oriented opponents.
The lack of team identity and leadership continue to plague this once-proud ball club. There are no defined roles for each player. Collectively, they are not playing as a unit. Their body language on the court says it all.
A quick fix to stop the bleeding came at a point when the club’s playoff chances are already slim. Randle, Last year’s reigning MVP, may have come a little too late. The diminutive guard’s efforts to carry the scoring cudgels for the beleaguered club is remarkable, but he is not enough.
Gaze added, “We’ve got some significant issues we have had all season.”
Kings management signed up a collection of stars that looked good on paper, but they lack chemistry. With eight new players, it will take more than a season to get familiar and learn everyone’s tendencies. They are trying to fast track success in an unforgiving market, but building dynasties do take time.
Despite having two former MVPs and four American players in Perry Ellis, Jeremy Tyler, Jerome Randle and naturalised player Kevin Lisch, the coaching staff has failed to unlock the potential of this talented group.
Calls for sweeping changes continue to swirl on social media. The Kings owners and team management have a responsibility to address their frustrated fanbase sooner than later.
Should Gaze remain as Head Coach? Why is he the Coach? Are there better coaches around? Is it time to bring Brian Goorjian back? Why are there no defensive stoppers in the team? Which franchise players (Lisch or Randle) should the club build around? Who are the available Australian free agents that management need to identify? What have they learnt in the last two seasons that can help them improve next year?
Sadly, with each loss, the growing discontent gets louder and stronger each day.
Gaze and the Kings are under extreme pressure to win and turn their season around. Let’s hope the New Year can bring prosperity and some hope for Sydney.