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What can we glean from the Kings' preseason minutes distribution?
Four games into the 7-game preseason, it's worth taking a glance at the minutes distribution so far. I think we have a pretty good read on who won't be making the team (anyone without a guaranteed contract) and who is going to land those starting spots. I think.
Here are the total minutes played in preseason, via NBA.com box scores.
No surprise in the top four, though Marcus Thornton having earned more minutes than Tyreke Evans is interesting. Only one will likely start. The team has played well in games with Tyreke as a starter, and the team has played well in games with Thornton as a starter. I still think Evans gets the nod, but this could be closer to a toss-up. (That said, Evans and Jimmer Fredette looked really good together, and Jimmer isn't starting, so ... toss-up.)
James Johnson is No. 5 in minutes played. We've gotten a poor read on how Keith Smart will use John Salmons because, well, John Salmons has been unavailable due to a personal matter. That's opened the door for Johnson, who has more than twice as many minutes as Travis Outlaw. I think it's safe to say Johnson has locked up the starting small forward spot. Francisco Garcia has actually seen more minutes than Outlaw, who didn't play in Friday's game.
Chuck Hayes and Thomas Robinson have basically split the second-string big man minutes, which makes sense. In preseason, all four bigs have played essentially similar minutes -- that will change when DeMarcus Cousins begins to play more than 25 minutes per game. Either Hayes or Robinson will see their minutes drop -- it could be situational, or Smart could prioritize them. Based on last year, I'd guess it'd be partly situational, though Smart tends to fall in and out of love with his players. (See Jimmer's various strings of DNP-CDs last season.)
Speaking of Jimmer, he's gotten more minutes than Aaron Brooks. That's interesting, if nothing else. Brooks got two starts and a DNP-CD, plus a 7-minute cameo in the opener. It's hard for me to get a read on whether Brooks or Jimmer will be the first point guard off the bench. That could be a platoon situation, too.
It does not appear that Tony Mitchell, Willie Reed or Hamady N'Diaye will be making the final cut, based on Smart's lack of interest in playing them during preseason. (If not now, when?) Also, Tyler Honeycutt hasn't been on the court -- he just re-entered the practice equation -- so there's another player to account for.
Three more games left to go to figure this stuff out.