30Q asks the important questions about the Kings all through September.
It's safe to say that rougly 90% of the reasons I'm excited for the 2009-10 Sacramento Kings have to with Tyreke Evans. Some of it is a healthy Kevin Martin ... paired with Tyreke Evans. Some of it is a muscly Donte Greene ... getting fed by Tyreke Evans. A maturing Spencer Hawes ... playing off of Tyreke Evans. An improved defense ... led by Tyreke Evans. An improve fast break ... started by Tyreke Evans.
But we don't even know for sure how much Evans will play, or when he'll take over the starting point guard job. Paul Westphal -- who is the only vote that matters, really -- said his boss (Gavin Maloof) was inaccurate in saying during Summer League that Evans is the Day 1 starter. We can assume that's the idea for a multitude of reasons, that Evans will take over immediately.
But it's not unprecedented for franchises to put tomorrow on hold. After the jump, a quick look at how quickly top picks -- especially point guards -- take over the reins.
First, let's look at the top five picks from the past seasons. When did these players first slip into the starting five?
- Derrick Rose started every game he played during his rookie season.
- Michael Beasley began the season as a starter before being moved to the bench beginning Nov. 28. He did not start in the playoffs.
- O.J. Mayo started (and played) every game of his rookie season.
- Russell Westbrook began the season as Earl Watson's back-up before becoming the full-time starter on Nov. 29. Watson was not injured when Westbrook took over.
- Kevin Love received his first start of the season in Minnesota's fifth game. However, he started only five games before Al Jefferson was lost for the season in early February. At that point he became the full-time starter.
- Greg Oden missed the entire 2007-08 season due to microfracture surgery. He started the first game of the 2008-09 season, but was lost to injury. Upon his return, he came off the bench for seven games before taking the starting job for 37 games. He missed several weeks more at that point, and upon his return resumed a bench role.
- Kevin Durant has started every game he's played in the NBA.
- Al Horford began his rookie season as a starter, but came off the bench for four games in November before taking on a role as the team's full-time starting center.
- Mike Conley didn't start a game until January of his rookie season, and actually played only sparingly before that. He did start all but one game of his rookie year once he got his first start. He started 61 of 82 games in 2008-09, making way for Kyle Lowry in the others.
- Jeff Green started one game in November, but didn't become a full-time starter until December 29. He started every game of his sophomore season.
- Andrea Bargnani started only two games his rookie season (the first coming in early December). Over the past two seasons, he has started 112 of 156 games.
- LaMarcus Aldridge started six straight games early in his rookie season, but returned to a bench role until becoming Portland's full-time starter March 1. He has started every game he has played since.
- Adam Morrison got his first start in his fifth NBA game. One game off the bench followed, and then he started 14 straight games. In the final four of those starts, he shot a combined 4-34. He has started only 13 games since then.
- Tyrus Thomas got his first start on January 13. He started only four games that rookie season. He began his second season as a starter, but was moved to bench by mid-November before returning to the starting line-up at the end of the month. He went back and forth throughout that season, and even came off the bench some during his third season.
- Shelden Williams was a starter from Day 1 in Atlanta. By December 12, he had been moved to a bench role. He started a string of eight games around New Year's due to an injury to Josh Smith. Once Smith returned, Williams didn't start another game until the final week of the season, when he received four starts. He has not started a single game for any team since then.
Assorted High-Profile Point Guards
- As mentioned, Derrick Rose started every game of his rookie season. Russell Westbrook became a full-time starter before the end of November. Mike Conley became a starter at New Year of his rookie season, but split starts during his second season.
- Chris Paul has started every game of his career. His debut was a 13-point, 4-assist performance against the Kings.
- Deron Williams took over Utah's starting point guard role from Milt Palacio after eight games his rookie season. He struggled, however, and Jerry Sloan moved Williams to the bench on December 27. He took over the starting job on February 25 (after a stellar match-up against Paul, in which Williams played 31 minutes) and has started every game he's played since.
- Rajon Rondo got his first start on February 2 of his rookie season. Doc Rivers moved Rondo to the starting line-up, shifting point guard Delonte West to the two-guard (where he has played ever since) and dropping Gerald Green to the bench. Rondo did bounce between the starting line-up and bench later that season, but has been the full-time starter in his second and third seasons.
- Dwyane Wade was initially slotted as Miami's point guard. He started from Day 1, though he did come off the bench in spots during that rookie season. He was later moved to shooting guard, where he plays today.
- Randy Foye got his first spot-start on January 21 of his rookie season, and had only one short string as a starter. In the two seasons since, he has started 92 of his 109 games.
What do we learn from all this? Teams aren't afraid to start high draft picks from Day 1, even point guards. It's a situational basis, with incumbent players (Mike James, Delonte West, Milt Palacio) sometimes blocking the path early. But top-five picks get at least some starts their rookie season, and many cinch up their starting position quickly.
I suspect Evans -- even if Beno Udrih starts Game 1 at Oklahoma City -- will do the same.