I wrote a column in September for our ’30 questions’ series titled "Will Eric Moreland find a spot on this roster?" and with the Kings’ preseason coming to a close last night in Lexington, I figured now would be a good time to revisit that question.
In the original column, I pointed towards Eric Moreland’s elite level rebounding (with a small sample size caveat) as the skill that could earn him a spot on the final roster. The good news is that Moreland rebounded the ball extremely well in his limited preseason appearances, and while that sample size is still quite small, it’s getting harder and harder to argue against.
He led the Kings with a 24.7 TRB% this preseason (percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor), and to put that in some perspective, Rudy Gay rebounded the ball extremely well, and his TRB% was 16.5.
The truth is, he only played 30ish total minutes over the span of two games, so the numbers, while good, are tough to analyze. In this case, the eye test is probably more valuable, and he aced that one.
He was awesome against the Lakers last week. I actually thought he changed the dynamic of that game when George Karl subbed him in. He was all over the placed defensively, and unlike Willie Cauley-Stein who tends to get himself out of rebounding position chasing blocks, Moreland was block hunting, and hitting the glass hard. He finished the game with 10 points, which is about the maximum amount of points you could reasonably expect from 15 minutes of Eric Moreland. He outworked the Lakers from the moment he subbed in to the moment he subbed out. If you wanted to take a glimpse into what full-potential Eric Moreland could look like, that was the game to watch.
As impressive as he was in LA, I thought his performance against Phoenix was more reminiscent of how he could help the Kings this season, and why I think he should make the team.
The Kings were shorthanded in the frontcourt against Phoenix on October 7th. Kosta Koufos had the night off; Karl started DeMarcus Cousins and Cauley-Stein, relying on Quincy Acy and Eric Moreland to control the glass for the second unit.
George Karl didn’t play Acy. Instead, Moreland was out there boxing out the 7-1 Alex Len, and while the Kings looked small, Moreland handled that task really, really well. I was surprised, to be honest. He played center with Caron Butler as his power forward and actually made it work. That is something Quincy Acy simple could not do, and that is the most realistic reason why Eric Moreland should make this roster. The Kings aren’t as deep in the frontcourt as it might look.
The Cousins, Cauley-Stein, Koufos rotation works really well, and I am definitely in favor of what looks like Karl’s opening night rotation where Cauley-Stein starts next to Cousins, and Koufos bangs inside for the second unit. But one injury to that trio, and Moreland’s rebounding ability is going to help this team immensely. We saw it against Phoenix. Koufos sat out, Moreland plugged in, and while you can’t expect him to replace Koufos’ production, not only did he do that job, but he was the only one on the roster that could.
Prior to the start of training camp, I didn’t think Moreland was going to make the roster despite how much I liked him as a prospect, but Karl got front row seats to how valuable he can be, and it’s flipped my prediction entirely.
I think he should make this team, but unlike last month, I think he’s going to make this team.