Attempting to understand Sacramento's offseason has been a perplexing pastime for NBA writers. The Kings brought in plenty of guys, but there was a lot of confusion. How would these players fit together? I openly hoped that the product would make more sense once we saw it on the floor. What I didn't think was that it would become clear so quickly. Granted, there are still plenty of questions. But we have some answers.
I still believe in Ben McLemore. His play has been so-so this preseason, with a fair share of highs and lows. But I still think he has an opportunity to be a successful part of the Kings and their future. That said, it still looks way too early to rely heavily on him. This pulls the offseason together quite a bit. Let's take a look at how.
He struggled with shooting in Wednesday morning's game against the Nets, but overall his shot has looked good. He shoots with confidence, creates his own shot, and looks ready to contribute to the offense. He's bound to endure some rookie struggles along the way, but I'm very excited by the rookie. I'd still argue that McLemore has a much higher upside than Stauskas, but Stauskas is ready the way we hoped Ben would be. While you're waiting for Ben to develop, you can afford to draft a guy like Stauskas who can contribute right away, and has long term potential in a very specific role.
We've heard the Kings talk about "positionless" basketball, and Collison has been one of the primary examples. He's primarily a point guard, but has the ability to slide to the two spot. This kind of flexibility will be important for the Kings as they wait for Ben. And realistically, there's a chance that Stauskas develops a little slower than what we've seen in preseason. It's good to have players who are able to play multiple positions and fill multiple roles.
How in the world was this guy still available? How did the Kings get him for just $4.2 million over two years? I mean, Sessions isn't the guy who is about to lead the Kings to a championship, but he is exactly the type of free agent signing that helps small market teams take a step forward. And, like Collison, he can play the two as needed. More flexibility, more bodies to play the two.
Many of us assumed that McCallum would start the season as the back-up point guard, and might even challenge Collison for the starting role by season's end. Then Sessions was signed, and we wondered what role there would be for McCallum. Ray played well enough when given minutes last season that it seems unreasonable that he'd get completely shut down. And I still don't think he will be. I think McCallum will see minutes as the back-up point guard, and as a back-up shooting guard. McCallum has the size, particularly in his body, to handle the two.
The one big trend with every perimeter player is that they're expected to struggle defensively. McLemore has the physical tools to be a good defender, but his defense is even farther away than his offense. After that, the best defender in the Kings back court is probably Darren Collison. Collison has a reputation as being a bad defender. That's the best back court defender. So that's where a guy like Hollins comes in. Eric Moreland too, for that matter, but Moreland is pretty raw and shouldn't be expected to see regular minutes for a while. Hollins, for all his faults, has built his career on being a rim protector. He'll get the block, give a hard foul, or maybe just get dunked on. But he's there contesting shots. That's going to be important.
It's far too soon to say how history will judge this offseason, but it seems like there may at least be some semblance of clarity. At least instead of asking if there's a plan, we can take a look at if the plan makes sense or if we think it will work. Personally, I think it might actually work a little better than any of us expected.