Photo Credit: standingosports
The Sacramento Kings have a good chance at being a solid team in a few years, as they are currently in rebuilding mode. The are putting together a playoff contending team, but still need a couple more additions to grow to their full potential. The projected starting lineup for the Kings for the 2014-15 season is:
Point Guard – Darren Collison: The Kings signed Darren Collison in the offseason, knowing that their old starting point guard, Isaiah Thomas, may sign with a different team during the free agency period. He ended up signing with the Phoenix Suns, leaving Collison with the starting job. Collison had a solid year backing up Chris Paul, which in return, resulted in a three-year, $16 million dollar deal with Sacramento.
Also on the Kings roster at point guard is Ray McCallum. When Thomas went down with an injury, McCallum took over and averaged 13.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He proved to the Kings that he could be a solid player and will likely be the backup point guard – barring an injury from Collison – for the upcoming season.
The pro to the Collison signing is that the Kings will have veteran leadership at point guard, as he could continue to guide McCallum in the right path – where he could potentially take over the starting job in three years. The con is that the signing made Thomas’ departure almost certain.
Shooting Guard – Ben McLemore: After being drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Ben McLemore was expected to play well against opposing guards. He does have an insane athleticism and has the height to be a solid rebounder, but his main flaw is his shooting. He shot 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from beyond the arc; both numbers are below average which led to questions about moving him to the bench.
The Kings added another shooting guard in Nik Stauskas in the 2014 NBA Draft. Stauskas is a great three-point shooter with rebounding ability and will give McLemore some competition for the starting job. McLemore has the ability to be a dominant shooting guard, but if he does not perform well, the Kings will quickly switch him out for Stauskas.
Head Coach Mike Malone has expressed his confidence in McLemore and will likely put him in the starting lineup to start the year. It is McLemore’s last chance to make a statement as the starting shooting guard. The Kings will also have Jason Terry and Jared Cunningham getting some minutes at the two, but McLemore and Stauskas are the go-to options for Malone.
Small Forward – Rudy Gay: This is not a surprise. Rudy Gay was traded for in the middle of the season last year and will be the starting small forward until his contract is up. Once he joined Sacramento, he shot .482 percent from the field, averaging 20.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game (0.7 points and 0.34 percent from the field better than when he was in Toronto the same year).
Alongside Gay will be Travis Outlaw and Omri Casspi. Both players will get only a few minutes per game, giving Gay more opportunities and minutes than usual. He will be one of the two main options for the Kings and will continue to play well as expected.
Power Forward – Jason Thompson: The Sacramento Kings’ weakest position is power forward, as they have used Jason Thompson as the starter – for most games – over the last six years. Last year, he averaged 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He is a solid option but is better off being a role player off the bench.
The Kings also have Derrick Williams, Reggie Evans, and Carl Landry at the power forward, so Thompson may lose his starting job a couple weeks in. Landry has a ton of upside if he stays healthy, as he was dominant with Golden State before he rejoined the Kings. Williams still has the potential to be a solid starter if he has enough playing time given to him.
Center – DeMarcus Cousins: DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best big men in the game and will be the first option for the Kings on offense. Like Gay, Cousins will be the starter unless he is traded – he has expressed his dislike of Sacramento struggling and is interested in being traded – or his contract expires.
Also at the center, the Kings have Aaron Gray, who will be the second option unless they add another big man in the next few weeks. They may also use Landry or Evans as their center when Cousins is on the bench.