One thing is for certain when the Sacramento Kings take the floor Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets – they’ll have a new look, at least in regards to the starting lineup.
Head coach Michael Malone said changes are coming and after five straight losses, it’s understandable. But they’re not just losses – it’s how the Kings have lost. While players like DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas have left it all on the floor, many others – especially those prime to minutes at the small forward position – have not. It’s lead to Cousins suggesting that those players all but need to be replaced in the rotation/have their minutes reduced, a sentiment that I’m sure many in the Kingdom share.
Both Salmons and Thornton have been nothing short of awful through the seasons first six games and while you don’t obviously want to overreact to the struggles of Thornton, it’s clear Salmons’ best days are behind him. That’s not to say he can’t be serviceable, but what game he provides to the Kings both on and off court is limited. Add in the fact that he’s essentially in the final year of his contract (he holds a buyout at season end), his tenure in Sacramento is ending by the minute.
While McLemore is the future of the franchise, Fredette, much like Salmons could be on his way out at season end after the Kings’ front office decided to not extend his contract. Granted, his play didn’t deserve the $4 million dollar option but Fredette did put in a lot of work during the offseason and played well during training camp. He certainly has his warts and he’s a sub-par defender (despite his efforts), but the Kings can still use his shooting and hustle. That’s not to say Fredette needs to be inserted into the starting lineup or given 35 minutes a game, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t have a larger role carved out of the rotation.
A player who should be starting and getting 35 minutes a game however is Ben McLemore, who despite a few duds has looked fantastic. Not only has his game seemed to flourish well at the NBA level, so has his effort as McLemore has been the only player back on defense multiple times, while the rest of the team stood by, hands on hips watching the rookie smack the ball away from the opposition or block a shot.
Many felt McLemore would be starting by Christmas, but he needs to be starting before Thanksgiving.
Coach Malone obviously doesn’t want to destroy what bench the Kings have by putting his top five talents into the starting lineup, so understandably some players who deserve to start won’t, but that doesn’t mean their roles can’t be expanded.
Hopefully, in the coming days and weeks we’ll see both Fredette and McLemore getting more floor time while players like Salmons and Thornton can earn their way back into the rotation.
I know I’m not alone in saying I’d prefer more effort over more talent.
If you’re going to struggle, that’s one thing – but don’t lack effort in your struggles.