Kings' new starting lineup with Aaron Brooks and John Salmons is working

Ezra Shaw

Keith Smart has gotten a lot of flak early this season, much of it deserved. But his edit to the Kings' starting lineup has paid dividends.

Before last Sunday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Keith Smart changed up his starting lineup. A suspension to DeMarcus Cousins and a personal issue for Isaiah Thomas forced some unplanned changes prior to that game, but Smart made a bold stroke in replacing James Johnson with John Salmons at starting small forward and Thomas with Aaron Brooks at point guard. This also forced Tyreke Evans into more of a playmaker role since Brooks is a scorer and shooter, and not much of a set-up man.

It's worked. The Kings are 2-2 with this starting lineup, and that five-man unit has been Sacramento's best by no small margin. The unit -- Salmons, Brooks, Evans, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins -- is +31 in 68 minutes, per NBA.com. The next best five-man unit -- Salmons, Brooks, Travis Outlaw, Jimmer Fredette and Chuck Hayes (?!) -- is +10 in six minutes. Clearly, the new starting five is working better than anything else Smart has tossed out there.

Salmons would appear to deserve a good portion of credit. He leads the team in plus-minus at +50 in 192 minutes. So in Salmons' 192 minutes, the Kings have outscored opponents by 50 points. In the 442 minutes in which Salmons has been on the bench, the Kings have been outscored by 113 points. Only one other player, Brooks, is in positive territory (+5). But before we get too carried away, note that Salmons had one of the worst aggregate plus-minus figures last season (-209 in 1,250 minutes).

Salmons is featured in each of the top four player duos by plus-minus, which much of that obviously stemming from the new starting lineup's strong work. Part of it could be that Brooks and Salmons are both shooting well: the point guard is hitting 43 percent of his three-pointers, and Salmons is at 39 percent. That helps create space for DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, who has been excellent over the last three games. While Thomas was shooting well as a starter, Johnson was certainly not. Perhaps adding that one extra outside threat and giving Evans the ball more often is the root of the resurgence.

Whatever the case, it's worth noting that the change has worked so far. We'll see if it carries over on the road next week.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Sactown Royalty

You must be a member of Sactown Royalty to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sactown Royalty. You should read them.

Join Sactown Royalty

You must be a member of Sactown Royalty to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sactown Royalty. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker