Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has an enlightening piece which explains the relevance of preseason statistics. I encourage you to check out the whole thing, but here's the gist for the time-constrained: there is some predictive value in preseason numbers at the player level. There's one passage I think relates particularly well to my own exhibition concerns w/r/t figuring out the '08-09 Kings:
Break down the numbers by category and the effort stats (rebounds, blocks, etc.) carry over closely into the regular season, while shooting percentages--more variable even season to season--have a dramatically lower correlation.
This makes sense -- players don't often go on rebound streaks or block streaks; those figures remain mostly consistent game over game and year over year. One of my biggest questions early this season: how good at rebounding are Jason Thompson and Donté Greene?
Spencer Hawes figures to be an average or slightly below rebounder at center, based on last year's record. Kevin Martin has been a slight above-average rebounder at two-guard, and Beno Udrih is slightly below-average for a point. For this team to survive on the boards with unforeseen explosions from Hawes or Martin, the future forwards need to rebound the hell out of the ball. The selection of Thompson figures into that, and a fair deal of Greene's bill of goods is connected to his otherworldly size for a three.
So how have those fellows rebounded this preseason?
Thompson is at roughly 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, just a hair ahead of Hawes (9.7), but behind Shelden Williams (11.8) and Brad Miller (10.9). Greene is not on the face of the Earth -- none of the Sacramento wings are -- so I'm going to conveniently ignore him for now.
Right now, Thompson looks like a good rebounder, on par with Hawes (who'd be quite good in comparison with power forwards) and historically Miller (ditto ... hence the success next to Vlade Divac in 2003-04). But that's through four preseason game, the first four preseason games of the kid's career. I'll withhold encouragement or discouragement for now.