Preseason's just about wrapped up so I thought I'd go through the reader mailbag to answer some of your questions after we've seen a little bit of this team on the court.
Via Twitter, @discgman asks:
Power Forward and Shooting Guard, who starts???
A: George Karl had some interesting insight on the starting lineup the other day in which he basically said that he doesn't get that hung up on who starts. In fact, he mentioned that we could see the starting lineup change throughout the year depending on matchups, and I believe him. For instance, you're probably gonna want to go big against a team like the Grizzlies and start Koufos and Cousins while you might now want to use the same strategy against the Warriors.
All that being said, it does seem as though Rondo, Gay and Cousins are going to be the only real locks in the starting unit so far. At Power Forward, Willie Cauley-Stein has won me over, even though I believe Kosta Koufos is currently the better player. Cauley-Stein is already a good defender as a rookie and fits with Cousins better thanks to his quickness and ability to switch out and cover more perimeter-oriented players.
Shooting Guard is a murkier proposition right now. Ben McLemore hasn't exactly had the best preseason, Belinelli and Collison both seem like ideal fits for the bench and James Anderson is James Anderson. I still think Ben ends up starting, but he'll have a much shorter leash this year now that the Kings have legitimate back up options.
Earl Henstra asks:
What do you know about or where can I find out about parking at the new arena?
A: I'll direct you to the answer provided in the Golden 1 Center's online FAQ:
It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of visitors will walk, bike or take public transportation to Golden 1 Center events. More than 13,500 parking spaces exist with 1/2 mile of Golden 1 Center. For comparison, there are only approximately 7,000 parking spaces at Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento Regional Transit has five light rail stations in the vicinity of the proposed Golden 1 Center, with the closest at 7th and K Streets. The Sacramento Valley Station, offering train, bus and taxi service, is located at 4th and I Streets.
It's probably going to take a while for people to get used to parking in downtown parking garages, but that's where the majority of parking is going to happen.
Ryan Silva asks:
How does the outlook compare to last year at this time?
A: While there was a very positive vibe around this team last year, absolutely nobody was mentioning the Kings and playoffs in the same sentence. In our preseason media roundtable, where we asked members of the media their predictions for the Kings win total for the year, most guessed around the mid-30s. That turned out to be a fairly good guess, as the Kings probably would have reached that number with some better health and some self-restraint by management.
Right now, we're seeing a similar optimistic vibe around the organization, and there are those who realistically believe this team can make the playoffs. That's in large part to the increase in talent and depth made by the team this summer. Long term, it's possible the Kings sacrificed some potential with their trade to Philadelphia, but there's no question this team is much better and could position themselves for a chance at the postseason if things work out.
Nico "wants the dank fries back" Garcia asks:
Why did Sleep Train replace the tasty ass, thick French fries with the lame ass skinny fries? Such a tragedy IMO
A: I personally don't tend to get fries at the arena unless it's the garlic fries occasionally below section 219. That being said can we talk about how much more expensive going to a Kings game is this year? Prices have been raised across the board. Parking is now $12, good beer can be as much as $14, and even a bottled water is $5. I know this was done in part to avoid the huge sticker shock for when the new arena opens, but it's still a little eye-opening.
Brett Huff asks:
After Cousins and Gay, who will emerge as the Kings' next best player?
A: The hope is that this is where Rajon Rondo comes in. We've seen good signs from Rondo this preseason with his passing and vocal leadership. If Rondo doesn't become one of the Kings top players, that's either real unfortunate or someone else has stepped up in a big way. The only other guy on the roster that I think can make a real push for Sacramento's third best player is Darren Collison. Collison is probably going to be Sacramento's third leading scorer regardless, and if the Kings are good, I think there's a legitimate chance he could make a push at 6th man of the year.
Patrick Kilkenny asks:
Can the Kings organization bring back the 2002 uniforms? The font is back but the jersey aint. Would love if they can. Lots of us fans are in high demand of the return... Thank you.
A: I don't think we'll be seeing a return of the classic 2002 uniforms again aside from a possible retro year. That being said, I do think we'll see a jersey/logo overhaul sometime soon, potentially as soon as next year going into the new arena.
Whatever happens, one thing that has to change is that the current number font needs to go. It's one of the ugliest number fonts in all of sports. Also whatever the Kings do, they should not hire the guy that made the Clippers' new uniforms. Go with something clean, simple and effective like Milwaukee's new uniforms.
Playoff Bonzi asks:
DeMarcus Cousins playing away from the basket will logically lower his offensive rebounding and therefore putback opportunities. In my opinion, this is the most dominant part of his game. Do you think stretching the floor with him will continue to be encouraged or will gravity pull him back towards the glass?
A: Boogie hanging around the perimeter is one of the things I'm most apprehensive about right now. He's been there a lot this preseason and it's hurt his offensive efficiency. I understand why the team is doing it (they want to keep the lane open for spacing), but it seems to be under-utilizing the team's best player and his strengths. I have liked the glimpses of the pick and roll / pick and pop game he's showed with Rondo though. That's something we haven't really seen Boogie do to much that could become a bigger part of his game this year.
We'll see. I don't know how much of what we're seeing from Boogie on the perimeter is preseason experimentation or actual preparation. It's probably somewhere in the middle.
What kind of role do you think James Anderson will play?
A: You should know better than me Boogie, but I'll humor you. Anderson is coming off his best game of the preseason, scoring 13 points (3-4 from three point range) to go with 3 assists and some solid defense. Anderson's basically a 3-and-D player. If his three point shot is consistent at all, he could legitimately challenge Ben McLemore for some major playing time at the SG position. That's some extra motivation for Ben, but it's also nice for our depth. I could also see Anderson playing some SF in smaller lineups. Karl likes him and he's grown on me a bit as well, and I think he'll end up being a rotation player for us.
What's most likely to happen?
A) Cousins first team all NBA
B) Rondo comeback player of the year
C) Willie Cauley-Stein rookie of the year
D) Ben McLemore most improved player
E) Rudy Gay makes the All Star team
F) Darren Collison 6th man
G) Kings Make the playoffs
H) All of the Above
A: If I had to bet money on one of these options, I'd probably go with the first one. Cousins is already widely regarded as one of the best big men in the NBA, if not the best. He managed to make the All-NBA second team last year despite being on a team that won just 29 games. If the Kings make the leap this year to become actual playoff contenders, Cousins will be warranting serious All-NBA first team consideration.
On the other end of the spectrum, the least likely options on this list in my mind are C, D and E (in no particular order). Willie has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft class and one of the better rookies from the start, but he's not the kind of guy who is going to put up the numbers to warrant Rookie of the Year consideration. He's going to focus on doing the little things, which is what we want and why he might actually start. McLemore is a guy I want to be in the Most Improved conversation but he hasn't blown my socks off this preseason. As for Rudy making an All-Star team I just think there are too many good players in the West, especially in the frontcourt, that Rudy won't warrant inclusion unless he's among the league leaders in scoring and the Kings are way better than expected.
If you want to appear in future editions of the mailbag, just send us a question here! We'll take the best questions and answer them every couple weeks.