Which Sacramento King Will Lose Their Starting Job First?


The Sacramento Kings finally have a set opening night depth chart. George Karl had a couple of decisions to make after the Kings finished their preseason, but with him choosing Willie Cauley-Stein to start over Kosta Koufos the starting five is finally revealed.

Sacramento will trot out Rajon Rondo, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Willie Trill and DeMarcus Cousins as their first starting five in the 2015-16 NBA season.

That’s a pretty good lineup, but it has the potential to be even better should some bench players be inserted into it. It’s unlikely that the Kings use the same starting five night in and night out, even without injuries. This group is too new and not top-heavy enough to have a starting unit set in stone.

So the question stands: which Sacramento King is in danger of losing their job first? Obviously the games haven’t started yet, so answers can only come from past production and this preseason. That’s…not ideal. It’ll be interesting to bring this up again a few weeks into the season, and see how the answers have changed.

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Considering he was the last one to make the starting five, Cauley-Stein seems like the easy answer. He has a solid veteran in Koufos waiting patiently behind him, so shouldn’t he be the first one to find himself in danger of losing his role?

Well, probably not. Cauley-Stein is going to be expected to do the least out of the five starters–he really just has to play good defense and snag a few rebounds and people will be happy with him. He’s not going to be asked to score often, so anything more than seven to ten points a game will feel like gravy with Trill.

Sep 28, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center Kosta Koufos (41) during media day the Sacramento Kings practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It also helps him that Koufos isn’t the type of player to fight for a starting job. He’s a great backup center who has never played more than 22 minutes per game, even when he was a full-time starter. He’s got no ego–Koufos just wants to help his teams.

That’s the best possible personality to have as a role player, but it’ll result in more driven and competitive players to potentially get the nod above him. Plus he just isn’t as good of a fit around Cousins–they both need the paint to be effective–so Cauley-Stein should actually be safe for a while.

Obviously Gay and Boogie aren’t going to get supplanted by anybody–despite Marco Belinelli having a good preseason, those two are the top dogs on this Kings team and neither of them will get benched.

That leaves the backcourt. Neither Rajon Rondo or Ben McLemore looked great this preseason, but McLemore was especially bad. McLemore averaged just six points, one assist, one rebound and one steal per game in the preseason on an atrocious 28 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc.

It was just the preseason, but still. That’s rough. If McLemore continues to perform at such a low level it’ll be hard to justify continuing to start him. Especially considering Darren Collison has been the Kings’ best player through this preseason.

Collison was fantastic this preseason, averaging 15 points, 5.5 assists and four rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 44 percent from long-range. He deserves a starting role. And should McLemore, or Rondo for that matter, continue to slip up he’ll probably get one.

George Karl, DeMarcus Cousins and Vlade Divac may disagree a lot, but there’s one thing that unites all three of them. They want to win, and they want to win now.

If playing Collison over Rondo or McLemore gives the Sacramento Kings a better chance to win games, then that’s what will end up happening.

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