Coming into the preseason, Sacramento's starting lineup was a bit of a question mark aside from DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Coach Michael Malone said as much in most of his interviews on the subject. That left three positions up for grabs.
Today, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports that the starting lineup we saw on Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs will be the opening night starting lineup. That lineup featured Darren Collison and Ben McLemore in the backcourt and Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins up front. Despite the uncertainty of who was going to start, this lineup doesn't really feature any surprises.
Beyond the obvious of Cousins and Gay, Collison was about as sure a lock for the starting spot as anyone else. The Kings brought him in to run the offense, and he also spaces the floor better than Ramon Sessions. Sessions is a very capable backup himself however, and we also saw the Kings run a few lineups this preseason with both him and Collison together, something that I think will continue well into the regular season.
At Shooting Guard there was a tougher decision to be made. Ben McLemore was the incumbent starter, but mostly because there were no other options last year. Nik Stauskas brought some real competition, and probably will continue to do so. Ben has the edge right now due to his defensive efforts but if Nik comes on strong and Ben remains inconsistent, I can see this changing throughout this season. This is easily the least secure starting spot on the roster.
Nobody should be surprised that Jason Thompson again prevailed among his many counterparts as starting Power Forward. There is a thought that Thompson is best suited coming off the bench as a backup center, where he can get more touches, but with a healthy Carl Landry back, our bench has its own big man scorer already. Still, I don't think the Kings are quite satisfied at this position yet, and I could see a trade being made that secures this spot for someone else.
The Kings haven't had a stable starting lineup in many years, and I don't think that has changed yet. For reference, here are the opening day starting lineups of the last 5 years compared to the ending starting lineup (ignoring injuries/suspensions) for that season:
Game 1: DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, Marcus Thornton, Greivis Vasquez
Game 82: DeMarcus Cousins, Reggie Evans, Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas
Game 1: DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, James Johnson, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas
Game 82: DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, John Salmons, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas
Game 1: DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, John Salmons, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans
Game 82: DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas
Game 1: DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry, Omri Casspi, Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih
Game 82: Samuel Dalembert, DeMarcus Cousins, Francisco Garcia, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans
Game 1: Jason Thompson, Sean May, Desmond Mason, Kevin Martin, Tyreke Evans
Game 82: Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Andres Nocioni, Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih