Yesterday could not have gone any better for the Kings. Seriously. At the start of the month, our front line was more shallow than Kim Kardashian, but now our front line is young and STACKED, like Kim Kardashian. Now, like Kim Kardashian, we are desperately trying to find time to fit all these big guys in (Thanks RoadDogg) Now that we are blessed with the problem of finding enough minutes to go around, its time for some speculation.
Yesterday there was a lot of talk about finding minutes for all our big men, and one of the arguments that crept up from time to time was regarding injuries. They all went like this, "Players get injured during the course of the season, so finding minutes for everyone will not be as hard as it sounds." Here’s the thing: our bigs don’t get injured. Carl Landry has a well earned reputation of being tough as nails and playing through injury. JT has missed less than 10 games in his first two seasons combined. And Dalembert has played in over 17317 consecutive games. Its scientific fact; look it up. I don’t believe Cousins is particularly soft either. We just cannot rely on injuries to find quality minutes for players like Landry or Cousins.
Now that I have jinxed the entire season, it’s time to break down the playing time I expect for each of our five (6?) bigs this season:
Hassan Whiteside: DNP CD
He should spend at least some time developing in Reno, but even when he is on the roster, I don’t see him playing all that much this season. Playing time could be very spotty, and the majority of his minutes should be in garbage time. If he can block even half as efficiently as he did in college, I could easily see him becoming a fan favorite. Remember Gerald Wallace's rookie season, and how during a blow out, the crowd would chant his name until he was subbed in? Don’t be surprised if that happens for Whiteside this year.
John Brockman: DNP CD
Read the previous paragraph, and substitute the words Hassan Whiteside with John Brockman, and the word Block with Rebound. Its that simple.
Also, I really hope we sign Nessie. He shouldn’t be taking any minutes away from our young bigs with a higher ceiling than him, but he could provide some legitimate value to the team. Here’s a thought: if he is willing, why don’t we just sign him as the 13th player to the roster. His work ethic is always welcome in practice situations, and will probably motivate the other young guys to work harder and stay more focused (DMC). And when the inevitable injury does happen, we can treat ourselves to a Nessie sighting.
Samuel Dalembert: 15-20 Minutes
Let the backlash begin. This is sure to upset some of you, as we are paying the guy just under a million bucks per minute in this situation, but hear me out. In late October/early November, Dalembert will be the starter, but by the start of the new year, don’t be surprised if Cousins starts at 5. Cousins is a better player than Sammie D right now, but the decision to start the season with Dalembert at center is more complicated than that... But more on that later, when we get to Cousins…
Dalembert will not get much better. His numbers have been incredibly consistent from season to season over the last few years, and this offseason he won’t be working to improve all that much because he (admirably) has more earth shattering matters to attend to back at home... gosh, I really hope that didn’t sound distasteful... Anyway, I think he comes off the bench the majority of the season in a role similar to that of Mutumbo while he was in Houston. Expect some boards and blocks in solid bench minutes. Any points are just gravy. He will also end up being an excellent pairing off the bench with. . .
Carl Landry: 25-30 Minutes
Carl Landry is a better player than JT right now, but I still believe he should come off the bench. He was able to dominate opposing defenses as the sixth man in Houston, and there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t do that here. Eventually, when Cousins earns starting minutes, Landry and Dalembert off the bench will complement each other perfectly. Landry makes up for Dalemberts offensive deficiencies, while Dalembert controls the paint and the boards.
The knock on Landry has been his rebounding, but with Whiteside, Dalembert, JT, and Cousins... Honestly, who cares anymore?
DeMarcus Cousins: 27-35 minutes
While I think the attitude issues were blown out of porportion by the media, at least a small part of me is concerned. I dont want him to feel entitled to the starting spot, as that may give him little motivation to take his game to the next level. Make him work as hard as Brockman, and earn the spot from Dalembert. That way, when he does start, he deserves it, and kicks ass.
Jason Thompson: 25-30 minutes
Jason Thompson fouls a lot. He is a very inconsistent player. And that is precisely why he should start. PW needs to take things on a game by game basis with him, as his playing time will be sporadic. You never know which JT you will get. Double-Double in the first quarter, beast mode JT? Or 5 fouls and 4 turnovers in 15 minutes JT? The sooner in the game you can answer this question, the better. If he is playing like sh*t and fouling his way out of the game, good -- More minutes for everybody else. Let him pick up cheap fouls and ride the bench. If he gets in foul trouble, with the talent on this front line, I could easily see him being forgotten and left on the bench once Landry and Cousins get going. It’s this kind of tough love that Thompson desperately needs. I guarantee you, after a while, he gets smarter on defense and reduces his number of fouls, thus making him much more valuable to us down the road... And if beastly JT shows up, we can know early on, and adjust his minutes accordingly. It is by letting Jason Thompson start, and occasionally foul himself out of games, that we can find enough minutes to make everyone happy.
How do you think the minutes will be distributed? Feel free to post a comment, with your thoughts on the season averages, looking like this:
Samuel Dalembert: 21
Demarcus Cousins: 26
Hassan Whiteside: insignificant
John Brockman (?): insignificant
(Yes, I know that 100>96. I think we will see small spurts with three of these guys playing at once. Also, an injury for one of the players could slightly increase the minutes of the others. But for the purpose of this exercise, keep the number of total minutes under 105)