Oct 23, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Jimmer Fredette (7) drives past Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 91-90. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmer Fredette, Ben McLemore need to benefit from Sacramento Kings lineup change

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.

The two most likely culprits to have their roles reduced are that of John Salmons and Marcus Thornton.

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.

Given that, there’s little reason for players like Ben McLemore and Jimmer Fredette not to see extra floor time.

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.

Tags: Ben McLemore Jimmer Fredette John Salmons Marcus Thornton Sacramento Kings

  • Ryan Silva

    You know I think the ‘Head-Hanging’ is more important than people think. I’ve never seen a team so down after every basket. Not to mention that extra second they are not focusing on the next play kills them. One thing you have to give Jimmer is he plays exactly the same no matter what happened the last play.

  • wyocard

    There were times in the last game when GV, McLemore and Jimmer were on the floor at the same time and there was an energy that seemed to be missing with other combinations. While McLemore isn’t a SF, he does have the quickness, the hops and the shooters touch to play that position when Jimmer is on the floor and when both of them are scoring and passing the ball, the Kings’ offense is much improved. IT has shown over the past two years that he is an exciting individual performer and he does get a few assists, though not enough to be considered a pass first PG. But when he is leading the offense, the team never seems to really come together resorts to “Kings Basketball,” and seem to forget about passing, screening and moving without the ball. The team seems to do those things with GV, Jimmer and McLemore, Patterson and Cousins. This team is going nowhere with the present line-up, so why not give Jimmer another look–and the ball once in a while!

    • Krishnan1241

      Do Jimmer fans watch the games he plays with their eyes closed? Do they not see how often he leaves his feet with no one to pass to or gets smushed at the rim? Or the difficulty he has controlling his dribble against NBA point guards? That’s not even to mention his defensive liabilities.

      With that said, I like Jimmer coming off the bench as a combo guard to spread the floor with his three point shooting, but he is no where near the overall player that Isiah Thomas is right now.

      • Brad

        Krishna, Jimmer fan here. Yes Jimmer used ot do the jump pass, but he has evolved out of it. He used to cough up the ball to defensive pressure, first season and second season, however this year he has not done that. He did get stuffed at the rim on a drive into three defenders as recently as last game. So yeah we see those, we also see improvement and his positives. So is he the next all star, not sure, I really think he needs to get more time for anyone to decide.

      • wyocard

        No, eyes wide open, here. I even see IT bounce the ball off his foot now and then, let just about anybody shoot over him and do other stupid things, but nobody else ever seems to see those things. Actually, I haven’t seen Jimmer leave his feet to make a pass all of last year. I have seen other Kings do that though. I haven’t seen him have any trouble at all controlling his dribble. He is also the most improved defensive player on the Kings but, then again, that ain’t sayin’ much. Most of us “JImmermaniacs,” which aren’t a lot different than “ITmaniacs” or Tyrekemaniacs” just want Jimmer to get out of that hellhole he was condemned to three years ago. I noticed that the newest Kings Savior went one for eight last night in his starting debut while the best three point shooter on the team sat on the end of the bench.

  • Flambe86

    I am perplexed, not just as a kings fan, but as a fan of basketball in general. John Salmons has received starting roles, significant minutes, and crunch time minutes. I’m glad the author took the time to mention Salmons as being someone irrelevant, but it would have been nice to really hammer that point home. The kings of shots Salmons takes as a SF are long twos. The worst shot in the game of basketball. I dont know how he has not only been asked to join the kings again, but then is given minutes by the last coach, AND THIS COACH. It’s sad when a professional nba team still pays players like salmons millions of dollars to play less than ordinary basketball. Front office, get off your ass and stop with the low standards and mediocrity!

    • Krishnan1241

      I will never understand how three NBA coaches in a row have put Salmons into the starting line-up despite all evidence (stats & eyeball test) indicating he is washed up. Salmons most definitely is NOT “serviceable either.

  • Dave