The Sacramento Kings’ Shooting Guard Conundrum

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It seems like going into this season the only starting positions that Michael Malone has publicly solidified are his center (Demarcus Cousins) and his small forward (Rudy Gay), having the point guard, shooting guard, and power forward positions up for contention. Out of those three positions, the most intriguing contest will be between Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas for shooting guard. With McLemore entering his second year as a pro and Stauskas entering his rookie season, Coach Malone definitely faces a conundrum on which young King he wants to start on opening night. The ideal two guard that Coach Malone would like to see on the floor is one that can hit jump shots at a consistent rate and can be reliable defensively, consistent on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately for Malone, Stauskas and McLemore haven’t shown signs of his vision just yet.

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On the offensive side McLemore has shown flashes of his true potential, but he hasn’t proved to the coaching staff that he can bring that level of consistency on a nightly basis. There were games where McLemore was an offensive spark, and other games where he couldn’t buy a basket. Stauskas so far has been impressive shooting the basketball this preseason, but it would be premature to label him as a “sharpshooter”, which fans have already named him at this moment. Remember, one of the attractions that McLemore had going into the draft was his level of efficiency shooting the basketball in college, and as time told us, it doesn’t necessarily translate to the professional level. Like McLemore, Stauskas has high promise to become an effective scorer in the NBA, but he needs to show a larger body of work that he can provide dependable scoring. Defensively, both players aren’t even close to Malone’s expectations. Similar to his offensive game, McLemore has shown brief moments of his possible defensive abilities, but too many times McLemore has been overwhelmed by his opponents. The same situation goes with Stauskas. Although his athleticism should help him defensively, his defense is still highly suspect.

In my perspective, both players haven’t shown that they can start for a competitive team yet, and unless Doug Christie wants to come out of retirement, Malone has a tough decision ahead of him. If I was Coach Malone, I would start McLemore because I believe McLemore has been the better overall player. Defensively, McLemore has done more. Compared to last season, McLemore has looked better in keeping his opponents in front of him and has closed in better on shooters. Offensively, McLemore has been gradually improving. As time keeps progressing, McLemore is looking more comfortable, and more importantly confident on the basketball court. Although still inconsistent, we are witnessing more and more games where McLemore is showcasing his true potential, whereas in the first-half of his rookie season those games were almost nonexistent. The two guard position desperately needs to show signs of consistent production if the Kings want to be worthy of playoff contention. Whether it’s McLemore or Stauskas, one of them (or better both) has to provide a spark for the Kings. Even though Malone hasn’t released his starting five to start the season yet, I’m almost certain McLemore will be the starting two guard on opening night. Can the new Pizza Guy deliver for his team? Only time will tell.