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Who the Sacramento Kings Should Start at Power Forward in 2013-14

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Who the Sacramento Kings Should Start at Power Forward in 2013-14
USA TODAY Sports
Jason Thompson won't block Carl Landry's shots this year, but he might block Landry from starting at power forward.

The Sacramento Kings have a problem many teams would love to have: too many good power forwards.

Incumbent Jason Thompson is joined by recent acquisitions Patrick Patterson and Carl Landry, all of whom are fighting for starter's minutes. With all due respect to Chuck Hayes, this is really a three-dog race.

Each player brings something different to the table, from interior defense to hard-nosed rebounding to low-post scoring.

 

Post Scoring

Since Patterson and Landry are both slightly undersized at 6'9", they live off of quickness in the paint.

Landry has the up-and-under reverse layup down pat, while Patterson is skilled at making runs through the middle when no one is watching.

Many of Patterson's shots come from outside the key, so the Kings could be exploited down low if they team him with other shooters like Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette.

When teams try to force Patterson off the wing, he'll drop down low and muscle up against them. Unlike Landry, though, he can only post up against smaller defenders.

Thompson can throw down a two-handed jam or cash in a hook shot from the high post. Landry is more of a banger around the basket but is really only effective from the right block.

While all three players put up around 10 points per game last season, Thompson has the best repertoire of moves at his disposal.

Edge: Thompson

 

Shooting Range

Shooting isn't the most important asset for a traditional power forward, but stretching the floor creates space near the basket for DeMarcus Cousins to go one-on-one with his defender.

Vorped's shooting charts show Landry is stronger than Thompson in pretty much every spot, though both are proficient on the right side.

While both Thompson and Landry hold their own on the wing, Patterson can shoot well from virtually anywhere.

Patterson loves the corner three, which 82 Games says is the most efficient shot in basketball. Having a power forward who can hit threes as well as straightaway long twos gives the Kings flexibility on offense; like the Detroit Pistons had with Rasheed Wallace in 2003-04.

Edge: Patterson

 

Rebounding

Right off the bat, let's be clear that Patterson won't win this category. His career average of 9.56 rebounds per 48 minutes is well below average for a power forward.

Now it's time to pick between toughness and size. At 6'11", JT can reach over smaller forwards and is particularly skilled on the offensive glass.

Landry has a hockey player's mouth, the result of fearlessly standing in front of any attacking player. Dikembe Mutombo knocked one of Landry's front teeth out in practice, and Paul Millsap did the same in a game.

A mouthguard should have protected him from further damage, but Dirk Nowitzki's elbow had other plans. Landry's ho-hum reaction belies the fact that he lost three teeth and damaged two others in the collision.

In 2009 he was hit by another car while driving, crashed into a light post, was shot in the leg by the other driver, and returned to practice less than two weeks later.

What do all these stories have to do with rebounding? The battle of the boards is often won by whomever wants the ball more, the guy who is willing to sacrifice his body.

For example, the Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried has hops and can box out, but his thirst for rebounds sets him apart from the rest of the league.

Last season Thompson had 6.7 rebounds per game in 27.9 minutes, while Landry scooped up 6.0 in slightly less playing time. So with the numbers about even, I'll take Landry's hard-nosed play on the glass.

Edge: Landry

 

Defense

Center DeMarcus Cousins needs a quality shot-blocker to help him lock down the paint, and Thompson led the pack with 0.7 blocks per game last year.

However, Thompson's defensive rating (points given up per 100 possessions) has never been under 109, on par with Patterson and Landry's career numbers.

Landry's 106 rating last year was a career-low, but playing in defensive wizard Mike Malone's system gave him an unfair advantage. Now that Malone is the Kings' head coach, everyone will be on a level playing field.

Patterson falls behind when Defensive Win Shares enter the conversation, with an average of 0.97 per season. Landry had 1.9 DWS under Malone last year to bring his career average up to 1.55.

Thompson looked ready to break out after posting 2.0 DWS in his sophomore season, but has regressed over the last two years. With a little help from Malone, he could return to swatting shots and controlling the key next to Big Cuz.

Who should the Kings start at Power Forward?

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Slight Edge: Thompson

 

Bottom Line

J.J. Hickson, Thomas Robinson, Mikki Moore and Landry himself have failed to take Thompson's starting spot over the last three years. JT has earned his place in the starting rotation and will hold his role for now.

Since Landry was Golden State's sixth man, he is conceivably willing to back up Thompson. If the Kings need some instant energy and offense off the bench, they'll call for No. 24.

Patterson is like a worse-defending Jeff Green, from his size to his outside shooting to his trouble rebounding. Sacramento can use PP as a sub at either forward spot.

Relax, Jason Thompson. You'll still get to bounce around with teammates and Illuminati members before games.

Winner: Thompson

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