Props to Sactown_Loyalty19 for his recent fanpost asking all sorts of great questions and expressing all sorts of just (and shared) frustrations. I took the rare step of logging in to rec and reply, and my response became so epic I decided to just turn it into my first-ever fanpost.
I'm afraid I have nothing sexier to comment upon than our vaunted starting lineup, and I hate to beat a dead horse (although I prefer it to beating a live horse), but that loss at Milwaukee loss spoke volumes about where our head coach's priorities lie rotationally. I know this is a constant conversation into which many of you sage and provocative STR regulars have already poured your wisdom and insight, and I know that giving this roster serious thought is about as fun as a root canal, so please feel free to stop reading and go do something meaningful with yourself, like watching a team with some swagger.
I don't want to dwell too much on the Milwaukee game, but presumably, The Promotion of Travis Outlaw by the Coward Keith Smart was either strategic or political (or completely arbitrary, I suppose, is also on the table). If it was strategic, then Smart's a moron. If it was political, then he's a pushover. In either case, this roster is doomed under his leadership.
This team direly needs three things from its coach: player development, consistent rotations and offensive systems that create good looks at the bucket within those rotations. I actually think our defensive systems have been much improved this year, its the lack of effort and mismatched lineups that make it ineffective. This team is already capable of solid defense IMO, which will come on its own with increased cohesion, balanced lineups, made FGs. Player development appears to be the Clifford Ray/Bobby Jackson show, which is great but not nearly enough. As for a tight, consistent rotation, the venerable Jonathan Keith Smart has already promised us a season of depth and experimentation, proudly broadcasting his idiotic plan to the world in what I'm sure was a meandering but prodigious run-on sentence. As for the offensive systems, yeesh. Even if they have the greatest playbook in history, it's kinda hard to run a play with no playmakers, three finishers (and I use that term very loosely), a rebounder and one of the guys no one trusts cause they would never play him if they were coaching. Granted, this roster leaves few possible player configurations that are balanced and well-fitting, but it's not like there aren't any.
Bottom-line, I think the biggest issue is Smart doesn't have the sack to (a) bench 4-5 guys permanently, pending injuries or (b) demand that Cousins operate from the low post regularly or else. Cousins clearly wants to play from the elbow or beyond, where he can (in his mind) make highlight-worthy plays and avoid all the bruising he has to do on the other end. Seems to me, given his immaturity, the only way to get him to go down low is to give him a legitimate ultimatum, which Smart clearly hasn't done. Starting him next to JT - who (mercifully) does operate from the post a lot of the time - doesn't help of course. Pair Cousins with Hayes, who belongs at the elbow (where he successfully ran Adelman's offense for years), and suddenly there's room underneath for Big Cuz. No disrespect- I love JT as much as any sane, ethical Kings fan and would much rather see him running flawless PNRs with IT against second units than cleaning up Cuz's flailing FGA's.
Unleash the Wagon and Boogie Down.
Incredibly, Salmons at SF is the one current starting assignment (besides Cousins) that I agree with. His play this season is much closer to what we expected (hoped for?) before last season and his defense, shooting, passing, handle, and decision making are all better than team average, which is more than can be said for Garcia, Johnson or even Evans.
As for the backcourt, I am amazed at how quickly Kings brass seems to forget how effective Tyreke Evans, when healthy, has nearly always been when asked to run the team. Not to mention how effective Marcus Thornton has nearly always been when asked to start at SG. Reke certainly can create for himself and others more proficiently than Aaron Brooks, plus he draws more attention. Pairing him with Salmons and Hayes allows him to get looks off the ball as well. Marcus has accepted his bench role graciously, but we all know he would light it up the day he got his permanent starting job back. With Salmons and MT on the wings, and Hayes up top, Cousins and Evans would have plenty of room to do their thing.
Speaking of creating space, I cannot understate how valuable I think the IT/JT pick & roll would be off the bench, with Jimmer and Garcia waiting outside and TRob hustling down boards. The miniature backcourt would likely be a problem on defense overall, but it's exceeded expectations in limited minutes recently and it develops players who might actually have a future with this franchise.
Long story short, I do not understand why this is not our rotation, especially when Smart seems to insist on playing only starters or only reserves together at a time:
I do not agree that it is time to abandon the season and play only our young guys. I do agree that #FTM