A few days ago, it was announced by Paul Westphal himself that Donte Greene would become the starting small forward, at least to open the season pushing Omri Casspi to the bench. Neither player did much to solidify a starting role so far through the preseason, but with the Kings mixing up rotations and playing time in an effort to prepare for the upcoming season, it’s expected to see some iffy stats from both Greene and Casspi.
So far through the first five preseason games, their numbers are:
Casspi – 23 min, 7.4 points, 2.4 assists, 6 rebounds, .306 FG%, .267 3pt%
Greene – 18 min, 7.0 points, 0.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, .385 FG%, .333 3pt%
Both sets of statistics are very uninspiring, but reading too much into those could get you in trouble. The point remains though, neither player has seized their opportunity…
So lets look back at their numbers from the 2009-2010 campaign to get a better gauge of meaningful activity:
Casspi (as a starter) – 30 min, 12.2 points, 1.5 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 42.5 FG%, 35.9 3pt%
Casspi (off of bench) – 21 min, 9.0 points, 1 assist, 3.8 rebounds, 46.7 FG%, 38 3pt%
Greene (as a starter) – 25 min, 9.4 points, 1.1 assist, 3.6 rebounds, 43.5 FG%, 36.5 3pt%
Greene (off of bench) – 15 min, 6.8 points, 0.5 assist, 2.2 rebounds, 46 FG%, 40.4 3pt%
Of course, none of those fancy statistics take into account defense but it’s clear both players performed better off of the bench and if given an extra five minutes of floor time, one could reasonably assume that Greene’s starter statistics could mirror those of Casspi.
Casspi did have a + rating at 82games.com, but I’ve always felt that was more of a collective unit statistic and one that could could really inflate or deflate depending on your teams success throughout the season and your units ability.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team as a whole did much better when Casspi was on the floor as opposed to Greene.
When Casspi was on the floor, the team was outscored by an average of 2.9 points. When he left the floor, the Kings were outscored by an average of 6.4 points.
When Greene was on the floor, the team was outscored by an average of 4.6. When Greene left the floor, it only moved up to 4.7. Again, these stats don’t factor in situations or the collective unit on the floor so they need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Using the simple eye test, it would appear that Greene has the advantage on the defensive end (at least in a man to man situation). He’s a bit quicker and provides more length than Casspi. Do the statistics tell the same story?
When playing the SF position, Casspi’s opponents put up an average line of 15.4 points on 48% shooting (in a per 48 minute rate)
Greene’s counterpart was able to put up 18.8 at a 55% shooting clip, again in a per 48 minute rate. That doesn’t mean Greene’s counterpart averaged 18.8 a game, it’s simply stretching out their averages in a full game scenario. Once again though, this doesn’t factor in situations as to when Greene or Casspi was playing or to whom they were facing off against. Obviously, more times than not, the player matched up with the backup will have better statistics.
Casspi nor Greene out performed their counterpart as both ended with a sub number when compared to their respective opponent, although Casspi’s was much closer to a draw than Greene who was a -4.3 at the SF per 48 compared to Casspi who was only a -0.7.
So, in short – did Paul make the correct move? Well, it seems too early to say. Statistically, it’s hard to argue that Casspi shouldn’t be the starter. He outperformed Greene in pretty much every possible way, at least when it comes to numbers. Does Greene fit better with the Kings starting five more than Casspi? Does Casspi’s solid all around game fit better with a second unit who’ll need more production while Greene’s solid line will fit more with the first unit? I guess only time will tell. I’m not sure either player has earned the gig and it *should* still be an open competition in my mind, but Coach Westphal obviously feels comfortable with Casspi off the bench and Greene starting.
Do you agree with Coach Westphal? Is Greene your starter? Or would you go with Casspi?