Sacramento Kings Inexplicably Have a Logjam at Every Single Roster Spot
The Sacramento Kings are trying to turn the franchise around with a new ownership group (Vivek Ranadive and Co.), a new head coach (Mike Malone) and a new general manager (Pete D'Alessandro). While they've done a great job acquiring talent, they've also created inexplicable logjams at each and every position.
I wish Malone all the best, because he's going to have his hands full trying to figure out how he should split up the minutes at each spot in the lineup. From point guard through center, there are more options than he should have to deal with.
Sacramento hasn't made any huge free-agent signings, but two trades have upgraded the level of talent on the roster. Depth is a good thing, but too much depth can backfire.
Let's break it down position by position.
After receiving Greivis Vasquez in the sign-and-trade that sent Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Kings have just as many guards as they employed before the deal.
Vasquez is easily the most talented point guard on the roster. While Isaiah Thomas has made major strides to transition from Mr. Irrelevant into a quality NBA floor general, he can't touch Vasquez's 9.0 assists per game.
The Maryland product trailed only Chris Paul in assist percentage during the 2012-13 season with the New Orleans Hornets. He isn't much of a defensive player and his value as a scorer is fairly limited, but his distributing skills are top-notch.
He and Thomas, who averaged 13.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, both deserve significant playing time. Starter's minutes, even.
Now add in Ray McCallum, the team's No. 36 pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The former Detroit Titan isn't ready to take on major playing time, but he still needs to find his way onto the court every so often.
Together, Vasquez and Thomas averaged 61.3 minutes per game last year. One or both of them will receive less run, and that's before working McCallum in. Remember, only 48 minutes per contest can be doled out to point guards.
The 2-guard spot is even more problematic, as the Kings are attempting to mix together an established scorer, a player still waiting for a chance and the team's top selection in the draft.
Jimmer Fredette is the least relevant of the bunch, though it's still disappointing that the BYU sharpshooter hasn't received much of an opportunity in the NBA. Shooters need playing time to gain confidence, and Jimmer has never gotten consistent run.
His 14.6 PER during the 2012-13 season indicates that he was just about a league-average player, yet he was only awarded 14 minutes per game.
Will minutes prevent Ben McLemore from winning ROY?
Marcus Thornton isn't a very efficient player, but he makes up for his missed shots with potency from the outside and a tremendous ability to avoid coughing the rock up to the other team. He averaged only 0.9 turnovers per game during his second full season in Sacramento while playing 24 minutes per contest.
Together, they're already at 38 minutes per game, even though both are good enough to deserve more.
What does that leave for Ben McLemore? Just a measly 10 minutes each outing, which I can assure you isn't going to fly.
Speaking of flying, McLemore is one of the more NBA-ready players coming out of this draft class, and the combination of his jaw-dropping athleticism and Ray Allen-esque three-point abilities will make him a Rookie of the Year favorite...if he receives the 30 minutes per game he should be given.
Small forward was the biggest position of need for the Kings. In that sense, acquiring Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from the Milwaukee Bucks was logical.
However, couldn't they have swapped a player or two in return to clear up some of this logjam? Giving up just second-round draft picks was a steal in terms of value, but it just created further clutter for the organization attempting to turn things around after the tenure of the Maloofs.
Mbah a Moute is a fantastic defender and will help the Kings out tremendously on that end of the court, but he needs minutes.
He played 22.9 minutes per game during his final season with the Bucks, but he's now the only high-quality 3 on the roster. Let's estimate that he's worth 30 minutes per contest to the team.
John Salmons and Travis Outlaw are the other two small forwards in Sacramento. Together, they combined for 41.7 minutes per game in 2012-13. However, they each posted sub-15 PERs and are aging, so that's far too many for 2013-14.
Even if the two combine for 20 minutes each outing, that's still more than the allotted 48.
If you thought the other positions were crowded, just wait until you see what's going on at power forward and center. Look up "logjam" in a dictionary, and you may well see a group picture of DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Patrick Patterson.
Here's a quick breakdown of how the five frontcourt members fared during this past NBA season. The following are per-game stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com:
I bet you can see where I'm going with this.
There are 96 available minutes at power forward and center in any given game. These five combined for 122.9 per contest during the 2012-13 season. Something has to give, and it's likely going to come from one of the three power forwards, all of whom deserve similar roles during the season.
The center rotation should remain distributed between Hayes and Boogie, just as it was last year. Except the Kings have to add one more player to get to 15, and center is the position with the least depth.
The position may appear fine, but even it could be problematic.
Sometimes, it's possible to have too much of a good thing.
Sacramento doesn't have enough stars, but it's overloaded the roster with guys who all need playing time. The current lineup is going to struggle with chemistry and rotations throughout the first season under Mike Malone, and that doesn't bode well for the impending turnaround.
From the looks of things, the Kings might become the first NBA team ever to ask for 20-minute quarters.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all stats come from Basketball-Reference.com.
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