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The challenge of setting up Skal Labissiere for success

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6 minutes?

Kimani Okearah

Coming into the season, Skal Labissiere was expected to be a highlight of the young Sacramento Kings core. He's had struggles and highlights early in this young season, but a growing frustration for Kings fans is the uneven distribution of Skal's minutes. Here are Skal's minutes this season:

33
13
25
28
15
22
25
16
6

Kings coach Dave Joerger often speaks of the importance of setting up young players for success. He cited the bad matchup as the reason Skal played just 6 minutes against the Detroit Pistons. And it’s true, Detroit was a bad matchup defensively for Labissiere. But just as important as getting a young player a good matchup is getting a player consistency. Joerger himself has talked about this when he explains why he is often slow to adjust his starting lineup.

On this past week's Kings Insider podcast, James Ham and Doug Christie discussed this topic, and Doug made a great argument, "I don't think that we want to go into next season still trying to figure out ‘who is Skal Labissiere’."

It's a difficult situation for Joerger, and he has far more experience developing players than I do, but at a certain point Skal has to learn to guard a bad matchup. He needs to have opportunities to fail, and to learn from those failures. We know that not every young guy can become a star, and the Kings need to know what they have.

The counterargument is that you don't want young guys learning bad habits and creating a losing culture. Kings fans have seen firsthand the consequences of throwing a player to the wolves when they aren't ready. But there must be a balance where players aren't in over their heads, while still seeing more than 6 minutes of floor time.

After all, the Kings veterans haven't been doing much to hold off that culture of losing.