Post-Preseason Roster Battles

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s the Starting/Finishing Shooting Guard?

Karl believes Belinelli is best off the bench. Darren Collison’s in the conversation but, defensively, his six foot frame measures up poorly against Golden State’s 6-foot-7 Klay Thompson, San Antonio’s 6-foot-6 Danny Green, Dallas’s 6-foot-5 Wesley Matthews, Houston’s 6-foot-5 James Harden, Memphis’s 6-foot-5 Courtney Lee and the Clippers’s 6-foot-4 J.J. Redick, among others.

And that’s just the Western Conference. There’s little doubt both Collison and the Kings are better served with Darren leading the second unit.

James Anderson certainly put his name in the hat, shooting 40 percent (four of 10) from three this preseason while, in Karl’s words, providing a “no-nonsense, low-maintenance type of personality,” an “insurance blanket” between the shooting guard and small forward positions.

But just as voters hesitate to displace political incumbents, that must be the case here, too, with Ben McLemore, Sacramento’s starting shooting guard in each of the team’s last 137 games. It’s true, the 22-year-old’s preseason performance was less than encouraging, especially considering training camp reports that suggested the opposite.

But that fact must also help McLemore’s chances: Can you prioritize a six-game preseason performance over an entire sophomore season of overall growth, combined with a reportedly productive offseason?

If Ben isn’t starting, where does Karl put him? You have to assume Belinelli’s the backup, with one of Anderson or Collison replacing Ben in the starting five. Does that leave him outside the regular rotation?

If the Kings want McLemore to realize as much of his potential as possible, sitting him on the end of the bench would do little, if anything, to help him and the team realize that goal.

In 164 regular season appearances, despite his ups, downs and inconsistencies, Ben has proven himself better than that. He stumbled off of the block last season too, only to improve in essentially every statistical category compared to his rookie year.

This year, supported by better teammates and coaches, why couldn’t he do the same?

Next: So What About James Anderson?