30Q: Which Kings big will start at power forward?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Our September series kicks off as we ponder who will be DeMarcus Cousins' Tonto/Spock/Robin/Eyegor.

It's September 1st. NBA training camps open in thirty days (September 28 for teams competing in international preseason contests). We're a month away from seeing the newest version of your Sacramento Kings. And that means that it's time to re-introduce our "30Q" series, in which we ask and occasionally answer thirty (sometimes pertinent) questions over the next thirty days relating to the Kings. Thirty questions that should be currently burning in your very loins (and if that burning sensation is not a result of these questions, see a doctor immediately...and make sure that you bring a note of clearance if you come to any of the StR nights).

We begin our series by asking the question: Who should be the starting power forward for the Kings? And just so we don't get caught up in the semantics argument of whether Cousins is a center or a power forward, let's simply focus on who should be starting alongside DeMarcus Cousins, and then you can affix the positions however you desire.

We're going to be looking at rebounding percentage, block percentage, usage percentage, true shooting percentage and assist percentage / turnover percentage while reviewing and comparing the candidates. As is always the case with statistics, the comparisons won't be perfect and irrefutable, but they will at least provide a working baseline.

The current candidates, from the obvious to the borderline absurd, are Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Travis Outlaw.

For reference, here are the power ball numbers:

Name

Reb%

Blk%

Usg%

TS%

Ast%/To%

Thompson

13.8

2.1

10.8

53.3

-4.8

Landry

14.2

1.3

20.0

60.5

-8.1

Patterson

12.0

1.8

15.4

54.4

-1.2

Hayes

14.2

1.2

9.4

46.9

-4.1

Outlaw

7.9

1.4

21.9

50.0

-1.0

Mbah a Moute

10.4

0.8

16.5

44.7

-7.8

Average

12.1

1.4

15.7

51.6

-4.5

Jason Thompson - The Incumbent: To be clear, Thompson is the incumbent only because he was the starter last year. He has no guarantee of starting this year, as so much has changed since February of last year (the acquisition of Patrick Patterson, the change in ownership, management and coaching, the signing of Carl Landry...even the acquisition of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could potentially impact the front line rotation). While Thompson is the longest tenured Sacramento King, he has no more time in with new ownership/management/coaching than anyone else on the roster.

In Thompson's favor is that he might be the most complete player among the candidates, or at least the one with no singular glaring deficiency. He is third in rebounding, first in blocks, third in true shooting, fourth in assist/turnover percentage, and is low usage. He's better than the average in four of the five categories (note: It's really not fair to knock any of these guys for their usage, as their usage numbers are really a byproduct of how they are all used as supporting players. However, it is probably a reasonable statement that players with lower usage figure to be a better fit next to Cousins).

Thompson fits well with Cousins inasmuch as he does not need a lot of touches to be a contributor, he rebounds well enough, blocks shots at a higher rate than the alternatives, and is effective within his low usage number when he does attempt to score.

However, Thompson does not stretch the defense, nor is he the interior defensive presence that you would like to pair with Cousins. Additionally, his ability to play either the center or power forward position makes him a very attractive option as the first big off the bench.

Carl Landry - The Investment: Did the Kings go out and spend $27 million over four years for a bench big, or do they have bigger plans for Hot Carl? Landry would certainly bring scoring to the starting lineup (and at an insanely efficient rate if he produces at last year's clip), and he surprisingly posted the best rebounding rate among the candidates last year. But he blocks shots only slightly better than Chuck Hayes, and as we saw during Landry's first stop here, he really needs above-average touches to be a contributor.

Landry's blue collar work ethic would be a great thing to have positioned alongside Cousins, but you have to wonder if the two could happily co-exist when it comes to getting shot opportunities. Defensively, Landry is two inches shorter than Thompson but weighs about the same, so I'm not sure that you're losing that much there when it comes to manning up on an opponent. But if you don't think that Thompson is a shot altering presence, Carl Landry's really going to drive you nuts. And he better clean up the handling a little, or he's going to drive Michael Malone nuts.

Given the presence of Cousins, Landry's best fit might be as the scoring bench big. He would probably get about 16 minutes a night without Cousins on the floor, and perhaps 8 minutes a night with him. That might prove to be the most effective use of Carl Landry.

Patrick Patterson - The Darkhorse: Like Thompson, Patterson's numbers are pretty consistent across the board. A good true shooting number encased inside a very workable usage percentage. On a comparison basis he does a great job of protecting the ball and he is an above average shot blocker for this group (much in the same way that I have above average height for a first grader). The rebounding numbers are a concern, but we'll ponder that in a moment.

What Patterson brings to the table is the ability to shoot from the deep perimeter, which adds much-needed floor spacing. And he doesn't need to jack up a lot of shots to be a contributor. He's one of those guys that just seems to have a knack for playing within the confines of a system, taking what comes to him and not forcing things, which can have a positive impact on his running mates.

Patterson is the same height as Landry, but is about 15 pounds lighter. This can provide for some challenges for him on the defensive end, but he would benefit on the offensive end by forcing his bigger opponent to follow him out onto the perimeter. If the starting front line wound up being Cousins, Patterson and Mbah a Moute, one could envision a scenario where Patterson winds up being more of a small forward offensively, while Mbah a Moute winds up being more of a power forward. The fact that Mbah a Moute rebounds well for a small forward would make up for Patterson's deficiency in this department.

Patterson, like every other current option, does not provide the defensive interior presence that the Kings sorely lack. But given that this option does not currently exist on the Kings roster, Patterson might do the best job of ringing all of the other bells.

Chuck Hayes - The Longshot: The plusses are that Hayes is a serious man defender, and he does a great job of setting screens in the high pick and roll. He rebounds at a good rate. But I think the last time that a team's starting point guard was as tall or taller than the starting power forward was when Magic Johnson (6-10) and James Worthy (6-9) played together. So we'd either get a little history if Hayes and Vasquez start, or we'd have the smallest starting lineup in the league if Hayes and Isaiah Thomas start.

It would be very tough to project Hayes into the starting lineup, especially if Mbah a Moute was starting at small forward. You'd get some rebounding and some in-your-face man defense, but the offense would be a disaster - at least 40% of your lineup would consist of guys that don't want to shoot...of course, given their true shooting numbers, you can certainly understand why they would be hesitant.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - Thinking Outside the Box: OK, this one has chilling consequences. The Kings decide that Mbah a Moute provides the best defensive package at power forward and they elect to start him there. This opens up the small forward position for John Salmons. And there is rioting in the streets.

Really, I can't see this happening. Cousins/Mbah a Moute/Salmons is no better of a defensive package than Cousins/Patterson/Mbah a Moute when you get down to brass tacks (Salmons has been overmatched defending small forwards for the past couple of years), and Patterson really fits the offensive package better. Honestly, I provided this option in an attempt to make the other options look a little better.

Travis Outlaw - The Revenge of Geoff Petrie: Outlaw comes to camp and it turns out that he is healthy for the first time since he wore a Blazers uniform. He's not much of a rebounder, but Mbah a Moute helps to make up for that. He takes pretty good care of the ball, which is a bit of a surprise, and he blocks shots on the weak side every now and then. And he stretches the floor and takes it to the rack. And there is joy in the streets.

OK, I can't see this happening, either. But I couldn't just not list him - he's a nice guy and he's still under contract for another two years. Thanks, Geoff!

-

Prediction time, from the same guy that brought you 33-49 last year, predicted that the Kings would trade the #7 pick in this year's draft and thought that the Kings would match the 4yr./$44m contract for Tyreke Evans. I'm going with Patrick Patterson. I just think that he fits the best offensively, and the give-up on the defensive end is minimal when you compare him to the other options. My runner-up pick is Thompson.

-

And 1 - a note about the "30Q" series: The staff has "brainstormed" thirty questions for the month of September, but you may have topic questions of your own. Feel free to email asksactownroyalty@gmail.com with your ideas. If your question is already among the "30Q" questions, we'll let you know when to be on the lookout for it. If it is not, we'll utilize your question in the "Mail Sac."

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