In the big scheme of things, this probably wont matter all that much. Probably. We’ve still got training camp battles to go, but, I figured with King news so slow right now, it was worth the looking into.
The Kings rotation of big men is a welcome change from years past. Let’s not forget, only a few short seasons ago our big man hopes were on the shoulders of a Mikki Moore *shudders*. With Samuel Dalembert, Thompson, Landry, Cousins, and Whiteside all clogging up the lane – King fans might not recognize this so called thing of “defense” that we’ll be seeing nightly. I know, I know – it’s a mythical object – an elusive creature that hasn’t been seen in the Sacramento area since the early 2000’s, but its fought its way back from extinction.
So let’s start with what we do know. Kings second round draft pick Hassan Whiteside isn’t in the mix to be starting or even receiving any healthy playing time barring an injury. As much as I love the kid and think he’ll be an important cog in the Kings future, he still has a lot to learn about the NBA game. I’m sure we’ll see him take the Donte Greene route and spend a bit of time in the biggest little city in the world. In addition, one has to figure, at least to start the season, Samuel Dalembert will be the starting center coming out of camp. He brings the best defensive presence, he’s a vet, and he brings the most stability to the position (at least for now). Things could always change, but, I have a hard time seeing the Kings replace Dalembert at the starting five with Thompson or Cousins to start the season. Things could very well be different a few months into the season, but to start, I can’t see it.
With all of that said, we’re now left with Cousins, Thompson, and Landry to fight out the starting power forward position. Cousins certainly made a case with his summer league performance that he deserves a shot at the starting job, but his conditioning and foul tendencies would have to improve greatly before October for him to have a real chance. The Kings might feel letting Cousins slide into the role would be much more beneficial to the rookie, seeing as he was more than comfortable coming off the bench at Kentucky last season. The bench role will also give Cousins some versatility, being able to come in at the power forward or center, depending on the situation.
So that leaves us with Landry and Thompson. Landry, for all that he is, he is not a backup center on most nights. He simply doesn’t have the size needed. Thompson can play either the four or the five, and while he did play a touch better at center – it wasn’t dramatic.
As a center, Thompson averaged 35 minutes a game, shot 52% (5.9 of 11.2), grabbed 9.7 boards and put up 13.6 points.
As a power forward, Thompson averaged 32 minutes a game, shot shot 45% (5 of 10.9), grabbed 8.5 rebounds and put up 12.8 points a game.
However, there was one glaring difference between Thompson the power forward and Thompson the center. In 35 minutes a game at the center position, Thompson averaged 2.8 personal fouls. At the four slot, Thompson averaged 4.1 – more fouls in less time.
So that leaves us Carl Landry. It seems all but obvious now that Landry should start at the four, letting Thompson back up Dalembert at center being Thompson stays on the floor playing the five, right? Well…let’s look at Landry’s starter/bench splits:
As a starter, Landry averaged 37 minutes and shot at a 51.7% (6.9 of 13.4), grabbing 6.5 boards and putting up 17.8 a game.
As a bench player, Landry averaged 27 minutes and shot 55% (5.8 of 10.6), grabbing 5.5 boards and putting up 16.2 a game.
Both stat lines are impressive any way you slice it, but Landry does seem to be more effective coming off the bench. But somebody has to start at the power forward position, and it looks like Carl Landry defaults into that category.
So, with all of this said….who do you want starting come opening night for the Kings?