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Kenneth Cornelius Thomas: Must The Show Go On?

Well, we're sufficiently entrenched in the second season of The Kenny Thomas Show to judge his performance as a starter versus his useless time as a sixth/seventh man.

As a refresher, here's what KT did off the bench through the first 27 games of the season:

13.8 points per 40 minutes on .445 shooting and 8.6 rebounds per 40.

Now (and again using a great and mostly anonymous site called Hoopsstats.com), let's look at Kenny's stats in the seven games he has started (which means Kenny's stats since Shareef's jaw got broken by Zach "Purveyor of Evil Things" Randolph):

19.0 points per 40 minutes on .562 shooting and 10.2 rebounds per 40.

So yeah, he's better starting than coming off the bench. Using the per-minute stats, as I'm sure you can tell, makes the numbers comparable given the disparate minutes per game KT was putting in pre-Randolph and post-Randolph. In short, getting a shot at starting has resuscitated Kenneth Cornelius a good deal.

Now, the won-loss thing. KT off the bench? Kings were 10-17. KT starting? Kings are 4-3.

I think this is misleading, of course, for a number of reasons. As a matter of fact, let's list the top three reasons the Kings are playing better recently as opposed to early on:

  1. Bench play, all the way around. Jason Hart has escaped the doldrums on crappiness. Brian Skinner has escaped the purgatory of the bench. Corliss Williamson has regained the title of The Big Nasty. Francisco Garcia is bringing the positives he possesses while minimizing the negatives. Ronnie Price is having spurts of showing pure playmaking ability in very limited opportunities (and his good play in short stints is clearly pushing Jason Hart to focus on the offensive end). The bench is just getting overwhelmingly more consistent, everyone the top two bench players have become starters.
  2. Mike Bibby. He's taking over games when he gets the right matchup. He's getting to the free throw line at will. Look at last night - he was pretty cold from the field (5 for 15, including 1 for 6 from three). But Iverson-Lite got to the line 10 times, and ended up with 19 points on 16 shots. That's not bad at all. Here are the free throw attempts for Bibby through the first 10 games of the season: 1, 2, 2, 3, 0, 2, 6, 9, 1, 8. His last 10 games? 4, 9, 2, 16, 9, 2, 8, 2, 8, 10. Much better.
  3. Peja. He's been a lot more consistent lately. Except last night. Whatever.
So yeah. Kenny falls somewhere below those three factors. It's nice, but it means absolutely nothing unless a) Kenneth Cornelius as Sixth Man sucks again, or b) Kenneth Cornelius gets traded for quality young big man.

I don't care which one happens. Personally, I'd trade high if possible and rely on Corliss and Skinner once Reef can open his mouth again. But if KT proves he can actually do something off the bench, then I think he'd be valuable in making a playoff run.

No, I haven't yet given up hope.