Nik Stauskas versus Ben McLemore is the first in our, “Who Gets the Crown?” series. A Royal Pain will look at 5 positions that seem to be in flux with the Sacramento Kings. These positions seemingly to have two guys that should occupy one spot. Our goal is try and get a better understanding on what direction the Kings may go in.
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Stauskas and McLemore represent the Sacramento Kings last two first round selections in the NBA Draft. Both seemingly fill the same role for the Kings, which makes one of them potentially expendable.
While I like the potential both players offer and would be happy to keep both, it doesn’t seem like that is in play at the moment. Sacramento is desperate for talent, and their roster features a log jam of average players that are fine but will not be pushing for a playoff spot soon, despite having an elite player in DeMarcus Cousins.
The two guards currently offer the most value of any players on the roster not named Cousins. Rudy Gay will have his new contract kick in this summer, making him untradeable until December. The Kings have to at least consider moving one of the two guards if they want to continue the roster overhaul. There are two scenarios where either McLemore or Stauskas could be moved that make sense.
Apr 10, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) reacts to a call in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The first would be to trade one of the guards to a team with a star that is looking to rebuild. Ty Lawson is the player that would make the most sense and fill an immediate need. This scenario would likely include sending a top 10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
While it may seem like a heavy price to pay, it would solidify the point guard slot and provide another very good player to go alongside Boogie Cousins. Lawson also has a relationship with George Karl and can run his system.
The other option is to use one of the guards as a way to dump salary.
In this scenario, including either Stauskas or McLemore could allow the Kings to shed salary, ideally Carl Landry , and allow the Kings to be players in free agency. Even with Khawi Leonard and Jimmy Butler likely to remain with their current teams, the 2015 Free Agent class has some interesting names including Draymond Green, Kevin Love, Paul Millsap and Khris Middleton. All of these players that have the potential to be in other uniforms next season and could make sense for the Sacramento Kings.
The question now becomes who goes and who gets the crown? Ben McLemore has made strides in his second season in Sacramento, and this season, Mclemore has started every game thus far. He has improved his three point shooting, hitting 36% on almost five attempts a game. He is an athletic guard that makes impressive plays.
While I would hate to move on from a player that has shown so much promise, it is probably the right move if it means landing an elite player. McLemore likely has the most value in the trade market with the progress he’s shown in year two.
Kings fans may want to move Stauskas and not McLemore, feeling like he has little to offer. But we must remain patient, as Stauskas hasn’t been given much playing until recently. An offseason with Summer League should be good for his game and his confidence. Also trading Stauskas now likely means underselling him, and a deal with Stauskas would likely be for a salary dump as opposed to acquiring a core piece for the rotation.
This summer will be an interesting one for all Kings fans. A roster overhaul combined with a potential front office shakeup could have the Kings looking very different again next season.