SACRAMENTO KINGS

Domantas Sabonis has managed to normalize elite, consistent production

Dec 20, 2023, 12:09 PM

Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Daniel Gafford #21 of the Washington Wizar...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Daniel Gafford #21 of the Washington Wizards during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Golden 1 Center on December 18, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Domantas Sabonis rarely finds himself in the national spotlight. It often seems his consistent, highly effective production is overshadowed. For example, last Saturday Keegan Murray’s historic 47-point performance on 12/15 shooting from beyond the arc deservedly stole the show, but Sabonis was key in enabling his second-year teammate.

Yet, Sabonis set Murray up for four of those triples, with three coming in the third quarter when Murray caught fire. Kevin Huerter shared postgame that their All-Star big was demanding the ball in the middle of the Utah Jazz’s zone (which they stubbornly continued to run despite it’s poor succcess rate) in order to shrink the defense and find his teammates from there.

Sabonis finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists while missing just one of his 10 attempts from the field and nobody bats an eye. Two days later against the Washington Wizards, he recoreded 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists on 11/16 shooting, marking his third triple double of the 2023-24 NBA season.

Fellow All-Star De’Aaron Fox highlighted the fact that “those aren’t normal numbers,” while speaking with reporters postgame. Sabonis has managed to normalized elite production to the point of desensetization.

“There’s just so much that he does on the court that I feel like doesn’t get appreciated enough or people don’t realize it,” Fox continued. “I don’t know how you don’t realize it, but maybe it’s just people don’t appreciate what he does enough.”

Recee, Fox’s wife, also vocalized her apprecation for the consistent impact Sacramento’s 6’10 center.

25 games into the season, Domantas Sabonis is averaging 18.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 7.2 assists on 58.0 percent from the field. In fact, he’s averaged at least 18 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists for the past five seasons.

Some may argue that points towards a lack of growth (depsite an increase in assists since joining the Kings), but that overlooks the severity and impressiveness of those numbers.

The only other three players currently averaging at least 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists are former MVPs Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic.

Being named to third team All-NBA last season, trailing only MVP finalists Jokic and Embiid, should speak for itself. Sacramento runs a large majority of their offense through Sabonis. Even if his on/off numbers don’t jump off the page, the context of how many minutes he plays without Fox factor into those statistics.

The ball reversals, screens assists, and orchestration don’t show up in box scores. Neither does opposing team’s hesistancy to switch due to his ability to abuse mismathces, freeing up ball-handlers. Head coach Mike Brown emphasizes the importance of maintaing their high-pace in the halfcourt, but it’s easier to justify and preach with a passing big who will reward determined, hard cuts to the basket and relocations along the perimiter.

There’s signifcant value in making the right play more often than not, with minimal mistakes littered in-between. When asked if he takes pride in that, Sabonis made it seem simple.

“Just trying to play the right way,” he said. “Being aggressive and just reading the game. If I have a chance to shoot, I shoot. If someone helps that means someone else is wide open. So, just trying to make the right read.”

It’s almost as if it’s natural for Domantas Sabonis, with acknoweldement of his father’s produtcion worth higlighting. Flirting with a triple-double and impacting the game beyond the stat sheet is a nightly routine. Maybe that’s part of why he often seems overlooked.

After Monday’s 143-131 victory over Washington, Coach Brown related it to when he coached LeBron James during his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 “(James) just played the right way,” he said. “If he created the double team and he saw a teammate wide open he swung it to them for a wide open catch-and-shoot shot. That’s the right play and he obviously has the green light to go and do what he wants to do. Same with (Domantas Sabonis), but at the end of the day Domas is just going to play the right way. Him playing the right way, with the people that we have on this team, he can fall into a triple double.”

What bigger compliment could be handed out than being compared to the best basketball player of the modern era, specifically regarding decision-making, which may be James’s greatest skill.

Outside of one tough showing on the road against the Houston Rockets earlier this season, it’s a nightly routine for Sabonis. It’s easy to look up at the Golden 1 Center jumbotron at the end of the first quarter, see Domantas Sabonis has managed eight points, six rebounds, and four assists and not bat an eye.

It truly feels like Domantas Sabonis has managed to desensatize everyone to his stellar production, which speaks for itself.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will continue its six-game home stand on Wednesday night against a Boston Celtics team that has looked like an NBA Finals favorite so far this season.

Boston will be on the second night of a back-to-back after facing the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco on Tuesday night.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Celtics coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from Golden 1 Center.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, December 20th – Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, December 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 23rd – Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, December 26th – Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trail Blazers – @ 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, December 29th – Sacramento Kings @ Atlanta Hawks – 4:30 PM PST

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Domantas Sabonis has managed to normalize elite, consistent production