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The Case for Jon Brockman ... As a Starter

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It shouldn't take much convincing to make the point that Jon Brockman deserves minutes for the Kings. He's been an incredible sparkplug at just the right times for Sacramento, becoming an instant cult favorite because of his ogrely insistance to pummel the snot out of everything with a pulse. Part of his appeal is the decade-long lack of brutes in Royal Purple. But a larger part of his appeal is that he has really, really helped the Kings when he's gotten onto the court.

But he's still only getting 11 minutes a night. The argument has been made, especially in the wake of the rotational decisions of Tuesday's night second half against Phoenix, that Brockman can be an effective defensive-minded counterweight to Spencer Hawes, the gifted offensive/light rebounding incumbent. But actually, adding Brockman to the starting line-up in place of Hawes might better boost the team's offense. And for that reason, along with the potential defensive aid in the form of better rebounding, I'd endorse a few starts for Brockman.

The one measurable skill in which Brockman has clearly excelled this season is offensive rebounding. Currently, he is grabbing 20 percent of all offensive rebound opportunities. That means for every five missed Kings shots (or reboundable missed free throws) while Brockman is on the floor, he's grabbing one of them. Do you want to know why that's nuts? Because the Warriors -- all five of them on the court at once -- rebound 21 percent of opportunities on offense. Brockman essentially does the work of 4-5 men in the category. The best team in this sector -- Memphis -- collects 33 percent of offensive rebound opportunities. Brockman gets 20 percent. Himself.

Offensive rebounding helps your offense. Its a huge reason the Kings are 12th in offense this season -- led by Jason Thompson and Brockman, the Kings are 4th in the league in offensive rebounding. According to previous work by Dean Oliver (now the quant analyst for the Nuggets), offensive rebounding is roughly equal to turnover rate in its effect on per-possession scoring. (Shooting is twice as important, and free throw rate is somewhat less important.) Boosting the team's offensive rebounding even more through increased minutes for Brockman (and reduced minutes for Hawes, who actually is a decent offensive rebounder himself) will help the team's offense.

But surely replacing Hawes the Multi-Talented Phenom with Brockman the Rebounder will hurt in other areas, yes? Not by my logic. Here are the current or potential starters (except Brockman) for the Kings as we enter mid-January, ranked from best-to-worse in True Shooting percentage, which is an all-encompassing shooting measure that can effectively be translated to "points per shooting possession used":

Omri Casspi, .595
Beno Udrih, .586
Kevin Martin, .577
Donte Green, .547
Jason Thompson, .541
Tyreke Evans, .526
Andres Nocioni, .519
Spencer Hawes, .518

Yes, Hawes is last in shooting efficiency among all current or potential starters. He is the least efficient Kings starter on offense. Talented? Yes. Promising? Yes. Producing? No. If you take him out of the starting five and replace his attempts with more by the other four and his replacement (Brockman, .586, in this case), the team will get more efficient, unless the team cannot efficiently absorb the difference between Hawes's shooting frequency and Brockman's (roughly 7 FGAs per 36 minutes).

Interestingly enough, an opposite issue is approaching: Kevin Martin will soon occupy the Donte Greene/Beno Udrih position in the starting five. (This is an assumption, but a fair one, I believe.) Martin, one of basketball's greatest weapons, should take more shots than Greene/Beno have been (13 per 36 minutes). Those shots must come from somewhere?

Surely, the Kings can get on fine keeping Hawes in the starting five while adding Martin. Martin won't force the offense to revolve around him, and the most likely result would be everyone (Martin included) taking a few fewer shots than normal. (I imagine efficiency will go up across the board, since many teams will need to double Martin, or at least send help on his penetration.)

But in an optimal world, the best solution would be to allow Martin and Casspi especially, but also the high-FG% Thompson and the obviously central Evans to maintain normal usage levels while relieving the debt by adding a player who can help in so many ways in place of the least efficient starter. (Also, Brockman is a decent finisher -- 62 percent at the rim and 50 percent from 5-10 feet. He's not a Chuck Hayes level offensive drain.)

It's worth noting that while Brockman has helped the Kings defense -- to the tune of 4 points per 100 possessions to this point -- the team's defensive rebounding is actually worse when he plays than when he sits. I imagine this can be attributed to line-up issues (especially at point guard, where starter Evans versus back-up/Brockman partner Sergio Rodriguez is no content) but it's worth remembering that on the surface it doesn't appear adding Brockman in place of Hawes will fix the team's biggest problem. (I assure you that it can't hurt.)