The Sacramento Kings Final Five Is More Important Than The Starting Five


Many questions have been raised over the course of the offseason for the Sacramento Kings. Beginning with the myriad of roster moves, to alleged reptiles occupying unkept landscape, this has been the most headline occupying Sacramento team in the last decade. And the start of the NBA season is still five days away.

Family feuds, fake frolics, and fantastic offseason play gives Kings’ fans a lot to look forward to. Still, the media tends to focus on what is wrong and what is unknown about the team rather than highlighting the depth and unique blend of talent gathered for our royal entertainment.

Yes, Rajon Rondo has a terrible sense of humor. It is true, George Karl cannot make up his damn mind about who to start. And as much as everyone would like to hear more about it, we are not TMZ or Deadspin, so the Kevin Johnson allegations will not be discussed further here.

All of this speculation will be put to rest in a few short nights when the Kings take the court in their home opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. Of course; as something dies, life is given. When one door closes, another opens. Cliche, cliche, etc., etc. The questions will never stop.

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Analyze and speculate is what we do as sports fans, general enthusiasts, and most importantly, writers here at A Royal Pain. Coach Karl will rotate lineups until he finds one that he see’s fit, its what he’s done his whole career, it’s what great coaches do, and most importantly what he did best in his most successful years in Denver.

By the time the “grass is cut” and Rajon Rondo decides to make jokes that people understand, the season will be in full swing and the Kings will hopefully begin their quest to return to NBA royalty.

What matters most though, and what has been asked the least, as I steal a thought from Sacramento’s own Grant Napear (@GrantNapearshow), is not who starts the game, who gets along with who, or what the biggest move was, but rather, who remains on the court to finish the game.

You take a look at the NBA teams with recent success; the Spurs, the Warriors, and the Clippers for example. They all have their superstars to fill the roster, but when it comes down to it, there’s no one guy who consistently is set to take the last shot.

With the (eventual) exit of Kobe Bryant in the NBA, the era of the isolation step back and turn around fadeaway game winners are over. The game winning shot is created with favorable matchups, and a trust in the lineup to make the right decision.

Over some drinks and annoying football this weekend, it was brought to my attention that the Kings do not really have a clear cut “go to guy” in the clutch to create their own shot in space and knockdown a jumper to ignite the crowd and bring home the win, and that is not a bad thing.

With a superstar in the middle and an arsenal of shooters, role players and ball handlers no stranger to the spotlight, Coach Karl’s decision and playmaking ability will be put to the test in the times that matter most. Adapting to the recent trends in the NBA, the Kings may very well be built for success after all.

So, the most important question for the most discussed and least credited team coming into the year that happens to be a royal pain (intended) in our behind is; Who remains on the court for the last shot?

NBA games are won and lost in the final moments, this is the league “Where Amazing Happens” after all. It is not the starting five that is the most important topic of discussion, but rather the remaining five.

NBA.Com credits The King’s with a favorable starting lineup and depth at almost every position.

As much as I’d have liked to have seen Marshall Henderson on the court for the Kings this season to bring some attitude and careless swagger that the team has lacked since Jason William’s departure, that didn’t happen. But this is the squad we will go with heading into the year.

Regardless of who starts, if we are down by two points with the last possession, the best five to go with on the court is; DeMarcus Cousins at center, Rudy Gay at power forward, Marco Belinelli at small forward, Ben McLemore at two guard, and Rondo running the point.

This leaves the Kings with the best opportunity to tie or go ahead in the game down by two. Rondo can still move at will on the court, penetrate, and dish for the best shot. When the defense collapses, Rondo will have options.

Belinelli can spot up and knock it down (no stranger to championship moments coming from the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs), Gay can crash, create a presence in the key and be good for a put back or quick mid range shot, and McLemore is the wild card where he is due for a breakout season, and the experience is extremely necessary in order for him to match the promise with the talent when the Kings drafted him a few years back.

And if all else fails, Cousins demands the attention of the defense in at least a preventative measure, if not a double team around the rim with the game on the line.

If everyone else can match expectations and perform exactly as they are capable of, the questions of “Who to start?” will soon be an afterthought. Championship teams have to know how to finish, and this final five gives our guys the best chance to do just that.

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