I know that Paul Westphal just got done coaching his first game as the mind of our Sacramento Kings, but it seems that all of our problems over the past three years have been the result of coaching dynamics which have the unique ability to highlight our already mediocre team. That said, we knew that Westphal was going to bring in Desmond Mason early on this summer. What we didn't know was how P-Dubs would go about alienating his pseudo-veterans, and young players alike. Ultimately it's all part of the rotation, and for whatever reason P-Dubs thinks that he can make two horrible line ups competitive out of one mediocre line up which still struggles to be competitive.
While Westphal was sitting in his mansion lounging about for the last three years, we here at STR have been paying close attention to our team, our new additions, our departures, our youth, and the development of the players we hope to watch rise to league wide names. Of our young team last year we got to witness the development of Spencer Hawes. SHawes grew steadily over the course of last year and once he got the starting job in the post-Miller lineup he developed faster and became a better presence on the court. By no means is this to say that he's an all star caliber player currently, but development and playing time are all part of that motion. What it means is that Hawes is currently our BEST center, and what does it do for a team to explicitly not start your best player at a certain position? What is it that Lil' Wayne can see about SHawes, that is invisible to P-Dubs? Potential?
We are a team full of potential this year, undoubtedly. Perhaps that is all that we have to cling to in 2009-10. There is no one on this team that would start in Boston, LA, Orlando, ahead of their already existing players. We are a team that needs to embrace our potential as a unit and that means putting the best five players on the floor ALL AT ONCE. Currently, and I don't care about history here, our best five players are Evans, Martin, Casspi, Thompson, Hawes. This unit has to be your starting five if you want to have a chance. There is absolutely nothing that will be accomplished by moving a 21 year old to the bench after he has earned the starting role the previous season. There is nothing that is gained by giving a horrible veteran the starting position because he and the coach were friends 35 years ago. There is nothing to be gained by chunneling all of your starting line up's offense through the hands of Kevin Martin, when you have capable wing players who can help stretch and run the floor in Nocioni and Casspi sitting on the bench. You need these stretch players to open up your bigs, and you need bigs that can score. Nobody in this league is giving Mason and May any respect this season. Which means that opposing defenses can virtually run triple coverage on Martin, double Tyreke, and help out on Thompson, unless there's another scoring threat on the floor.
It will be easy for every team in the league to beat last nights starting five. It will be easy for every team in the league to beat our back-up five, WITH THEIR BACK UPS. It is easy to take youth and make it question its ability, skill level, team chemistry, coaching, leadership, talent, and potential. And it is easy to start Sean May and Desmond Mason, while the potential--invisible to Westphal--continues to go unfulfilled. It is easy to devastate a season and lose a team by breaking them apart. It is hard to make the decision that youth will progress faster and farther than experience. And it will still be hard to win games with the Evans, Martin, Casspi, JT, Hawes starting five. But at least we will have a competitive start.