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Is the Kings Rotation Abnormally Inconsistent?

Short answer: yes.


Long answer:

The complaint from some fans and now players -- voiced by Sean May and Spencer Hawes, most recently -- has been that Paul Westphal's rotation is so inconsistent that the team is suffering from role confusion and busted confidence. Whether inconsistent production forces an inconsistent rotation or an inconsistent rotation causes inconsistent production -- basically, a chicken-egg paradox -- is not something which can be figured out by a dunce like me in the span of one morning. You likely have your opinion on that, as do I (mine: it's gray), and that's not what I am to uncover here.

I want to go even more basic, more atomic. The question: is Westphal's rotation inconsistent by current NBA standards? If so, how inconsistent compared to the norm?

Using data from, I looked at the number of minutes each team's three most frequently used five-man units have played together so far this season. This seems like a good proxy for rotation consistency without slicing too thinly -- Atlanta, for example, has a very consistent rotation, but has two or three heavily used line-ups.

That said, compared to the league as a whole and to fellow "young, rebuilding teams," how inconsistent has Westphal's rotation been?


By this measure, Sacramento has the most inconsistent rotation in the league, less consistent than even that of Golden State, with its rampant injuries, somewhat quirky coach, parade of D-League call-ups and one trade. Golden State's three most frequently used line-ups have played a combined 273 minutes. Sacramento's three most frequently used line-ups have played a combined 266 minutes.

The next lowest total is Indiana, with 326 minutes between its three most heavily used line-ups.

Sacramento also holds the distinction of having the least used top line-up. The Kings' most heavily used line-up -- Beno Udrih, Tyreke Evans, Andres Nocioni, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes -- has played 100 minutes together this season. Golden State's most heavily used lin-up -- Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow, Vladimir Radmanovic, Mikki Moore -- has played 124 minutes together. And that all happened by early January, when Moore was cut by the team.

The most heavily used line-up in the league this season has been Memphis's starting five (Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol), with 1,166 minutes as a unit. You may remember that the Grizzlies are one of the very few teams in the league younger than the Kings. The Memphis starting five has only been changed when Gay and Conley each missed two games due to injury. The Grizzlies, with this line-up, began the season 1-8. Coach Lionel Hollins stuck with the unit, and the team is now 28-27 and within striking distance of its first playoff berth since 2006. The Memphis starting five outscore opponents by more than seven points per 100 possessions.


Again, I'm not saying Westphal's erratic rotation either hurts the team or is a necessary component of this team's status. I'm just saying it is indeed erractic by NBA standards.