The Sacramento Kings have a lot of (theoretically!) good young shooting guards of which the current front office personally hand picked as building blocks towards future success. I’m specifically looking at the long-term signing of Garrett Temple, the drafting of Malachi Richardson, and the trades for both Buddy Hield and Bodgan Bogdanovic here, but you can probably add Ben McLemore to the mix, too. The current front office wasn’t responsible for getting McLemore to Sacramento, but they made a conscious effort to develop him and not deal him at the trade deadline, so I think it’s fair to speculate that Vlade Divac may consider Ben as part of the future in Sacramento as well. I’m not ruling it out, anyway.
That is a lot of shooting guards.
We are talking about the NBA in 2017 here, however, and that means you can play some of these guys at small forward or even power forward depending on the absurdity of their matchup. I will say, though – all of the guys mentioned above are pretty pure shooting guards. You wouldn’t identify their primary positions as anything but shooting guard, and I’m not even sure you could classify any of them as a ‘combo guard’ considering how we use that term today. Bogdan might get there, but we’ll have to see how his handle holds up in the NBA.
The Kings are fortunate in that they don’t need to make a decision on this right away, but I do think trying to develop three for four shooting guards (I’ll leave Temple out of the discussion here, he’s pretty well developed) at the same time is going to be difficult, if not impossible.
The more I’ve thought about this position over the last week, and as the season winds down, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t know how the Kings can justify retaining Ben McLemore this summer. The Kings don’t have a single point guard or small forward with a guaranteed contract for next season on their roster right now. They’ll have two positions to fill with a completely blank slate heading into the offseason. I can’t remember anything quite like that. Despite McLemore’s improved play over the last several weeks, the Kings have so many shooting guards. I think he’ll be one of potentially many odd men out. We’ll have to see how the rest of his season plays out.
Buddy Hield has been pretty good over his first four games as a Sacramento King, considering the circumstances. He’s already leapfrogged over Malachi Richardson and Ben McLemore in my own personal shooting guard of the future power ranking. Everything we’ve seen out of Hield so far looks promising, but it doesn’t make this shooting guard conundrum any easier to maneuver.
Buddy's been terrific for the Kings since the trade— Omer Ali Khan (@okhanSTR) March 2, 2017
14/3/1 in 26.5 mpg on 51/42/88 %s (65 TS / 23 USG)
That's 19/4/1 per 36 min
Here’s how I see it playing out over the next year or so. The Kings let McLemore and Arron Afflalo leave in free agency. They go into next season with Buddy Hield as the starter and Garrett Temple as the backup with Malachi Richardson and Bogdan Bodganovic (relative unknowns, although promising) on the roster picking up minutes where applicable, if earned. If Richardson and Bogdanovic start showing signs of development, well, the Kings are going to find themselves in an awkward position.
They’ve invested so much time and energy into Buddy Hield that he feels like a hill the Kings’ front office is willing to die on, and while we’re projecting far into the future here, that is a bit concerning. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but it’s a little thought I’m keeping in the back of my head as we move forward.
All of that is to say this, the Kings’ shooting guard situation is kind of messy. It’s ultimately a good mess, but a mess none the less. It’s going to continue being awkward so long as they have three very young, very promising players fighting for the same minutes, and while I have no problem with those guys competing for playing time here, there will eventually be a tough decision to make. I’m fascinated by how the Kings make that decision, particularly because they have a earned reputation of doing everything too late. They didn’t trade Cousins until his value had shrunk. They didn’t deal Rudy Gay and now they will (probably) lose him for nothing. They didn’t deal any of their upcoming free agents, meaning they will (likely) lose them for nothing. The Kings are not very proactive.
Of course, as Greg wrote yesterday, there is a possibility that Bogdan Bogdanovic doesn’t come over to play with the Kings next season. Injuries also happen, unfortunately, so it’s entirely possible that this situation takes care of itself, but it’s an interesting discussion to have.
What does your crystal ball say? How do you see this thing playing out?