Conventional wisdom, which is inconveniently inaccurate, would say that four spots in the King starting line-up, sans PG position, are up for grabs. At least that is what Paul Westphal would have players believe, since competition breeds maximal effort. And it is what many fans are inclined to assert too, since playing fantasy head coach allows you or I to virtually bench players deemed unworthy in place of personal favorites.
This time of year possibilities reign supreme. A new NBA season is less than 30 days from tipping, our record is unscathed, there is an imposing new color scheme upon the Arco hardwood floor, and we have a player named Pooh...good times!
So let the good times roll. And let unconventional wisdom take hold. Barring injury or a Carmelo Anthony blockbuster deal, the Kings starting five for the upcoming season shall be, without further ado, competing with impassioned body heart and mind, and occasional wink to Carly of our very own SKDT....
Timeout: Is it any wonder JT cannot make a friggin’ free throw?! I am surprised he even hits the rim with her posing seductively, err standing, behind the basket in the Arco tunnel. Memo to Kings staff: Whichever side of the court the visiting team is shooting FTs, have Carly stand there.
Shake those perfectly shaped pompoms Carly and the SDKT, along with whatever you are holding in your hands. Cue the lights! Cue the music! And cue the one-and-only, spine-tingling, iron-lunged prolonger of syllables, Kings PA extraordinaire, Adam Carrola!
FYI I like Scott. I wish I had his vocal cords. Even if we lose 50 games this year, at least we have Scott's booming voice and boundless enthusiasm to seem as if we are on the verge of NBA Finals. Or maybe his excitement is over scoring a date with Carly, who thought she was agreeing to go out with a semi-famous TV personality/comedien. She got wise once instead of telling her jokes over dinner, he caused her ear drums to bleed.
Anyway, the five names that Scott/Adam shall belt out to start the season are:
PG: Tyreke Evans
SG - Beno Udrih
SF - Omri Casspi
PF - Carl Landry
C - Samuel Dalembert
The Kings starting PG, SG, SF and PF are as clear of selections to me as are the three best players on the Miami Heat. The Kings starting center spot is less definitive, but Sammy is the probable guy for at least 5 to 10+ games.
Lets look at this bottom-lined, statistically based, and from a head coach justified perspective for semi-indisputable conclusion of above starting line-up.
PG: Tyreke. Bottom Line: Best player on team. By the numbers: 20/5/5 could look modest compared to potential. 25/8/6 is not out of realm of possibility next year or two. There is rational Tyreke will get less boards with our improved front court. Well Tyreke is improved too. More agile from off-season training regime, less hesitant entering second season, Tyreke will get to loose balls, and rebound in traffic. With ball in hands, and more weapons at disposal, assists and points will pile up at an All-Star rate. The mind of PW: The more I play Tyreke, the smarter I look. The smarter I look, the sooner the Maloofs fed-ex to me my 3 year contract extension.
SG: Beno. Bottom Line: Beno is a better player than Cisco; more productive, more reliable, more consistent. Beno calmly drove the lane in scrimmage to sink game clinching lay-up last night. Cisco rarely drives the lane calmly. By the numbers: Beno shot 49% last year, third among all NBA guards, trailing only Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash. The disrespect Beno receives baffles to me. Cisco is an average 44% shooter. Per game, Beno makes 4.7 assists. Cisco makes 1.8 assists. Points and assists combined, Beno generates 23 points to Cisco's 12 points. I was not a Math major in college, but that’s almost double. The difference in defensive ability is not as tangible. The mind of PW: I need steady production from SG spot, especially with an unproven SF spot. I need a shot facilitator alongside the dynamic game of Reke. I need a SG I can trust, and keep the offense humming. I trust Beno more than Cisco. Easy decision.
SF: Omri. Bottom line: Omri is a better player than Donte. More dynamic, better foot speed, and a more focused player. By the numbers: Donte as rookie put up 3.8 points on 32% with 1.5 boards. Omri as rookie put up 10.3 points on 45% with 4.5 boards. Stark contrast. Omri is charting statistical course to NBA starter, possible star; Donte is on track to be solid rotational player, likely back-up. The mind of PW: Omri was one of my best players the first half of the season. He showed atypical poise and skill for a rookie. He came to camp 20 pounds stronger to withstand rigors of long season that wore on him mentally and physically in his first year. I believe the real player was Lively Omri to start the year, not Exhausted Omri to conclude it. Omri has shown commitment to being the best he can be. In turn, I will show my commitment to Omri by naming him starter. Again, a fairly easy decision.
PF: Landry. Bottom line: Top Hat is our best low post weapon, emerging star, and most efficient team scorer. He creates double teams to keep opposing defenses guessing. He elevates his game in the 4th. By the numbers: Landry has career TS% of 61.5. JT has career TS% of 52.9%. The first number is Top 15 in the NBA; the second number is below average. JT has TOV (turnovers per 100 plays) of 14%. Top Hat has TOV of 11%. Landry touches the ball more, gives it away less, and puts in the basket more often. Top Hat has a career Offensive rating and Defensive rating of 110 and 105, respectively, a net of positive +5. JT has ratings of 106 and 111, and net of negative -5. In other words one player helps you win, one not so much. The mind of PW: I played Top Hat a team leading 38 minutes/game last year. Advanced stats confirm what my eyes tell me, even if we lack a team statistician. Again, an easy decision.
C: Dalembert. Bottom Line: Promoting team harmony, and deferring to newly acquired vet takes precedence over superior talent and inexperience of top pick. Sammy D gets nod over DeMarcus, at least for first few weeks. By the numbers: Sammy D was 7th in the NBA in blocks and 12th in the NBA in rebounds last year. Rebounds and denials at the rim have been hard to come by for half of a decade. Enough is enough. The mind of PW: As a coach, I do not want to delay the inevitable pairing of the dynamic duo any longer than necessary. DeMarcus and Tyreke are the envisioned inside-outside force to overwhelm opposition for many seasons. So why wait? Let’s give Sammy the respect he deserves as durable 8 year pro. Further lets have DeMarcus dominate the likes of back-up flotsam like DeAndre Jordan and Dan Gadzuric, build confidence, and not worry about foul trouble. DMC will be the low and high post focus of the second unit. As the double/doubles mount, and the minutes expand, a move to the starting line-up will naturally follow without veteran animosity.
The Mind of PW Disclaimer: Starting does not guarantee more minutes played than a back-up on any given night. Starting does not guarantee 4th quarter appearance for any given game. Head coach reserves right to juggle line-up any time in response to match-up issues at discretion. Earning a starting spot simply signifies the body of players work has been deemed advantageous to short and long term overall success of team. Coach decisions are final. And subject to change without notice.
So there you have it, the starting five of your 2010-11 Sacramento Kings! Carly approves of this message.