Sacramento Kings: 2015 Projected Starting Lineup
The Sacramento Kings made some changes to their roster in the offseason, trying to improve upon the team’s 29-53 record. Though they offered contracts to many free agents, only a few decided to head West to Sacramento. Here is a look at the projected 2015-16 starting lineup:
Point Guard – Rajon Rondo: Rondo had a short lived tenure in Dallas after having problems with head coach Rick Carlisle, but is ready and excited for new opportunity. The 29-year-old signed a one-year, $10 million dollar deal with the Kings in the offseason, but could very well sign a multi-year deal if things go well. Rondo is a floor general and is excellent at opening up many opportunities for his teammates, something the Kings need if they want to make a playoff run.
The backup will be Darren Collison, who was the uncontested starter last year. He is a solid player, but Rondo brings more to the table and spreads the floor much more. In 68 games last year, Rondo averaged 8.9 points, 7.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game.
Shooting Guard – Ben McLemore: McLemore came into Sacramento surrounded by high expectations. Though he struggled in his rookie season, he improved drastically his sophomore year and is set for another solid year in 2015. McLemore averaged 12.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game shooting 44 percent from the field and 36 percent from three this past year. Not to mention he is a reliable defender, something that is much-needed, as the Kings finished tied for 27 in opponent’s points per game (105).
The Kansas product has held down the fort and shooting guard, starting in all 82 games last year. But, he will face much tougher competition, as the team signed shooting specialist Marco Belinelli in free agency. Once all is said and done, McLemore will be on the floor while Belinelli is on the bench come opening tip-off.
Small Forward – Rudy Gay: Ever since being traded to Sacramento in the 2013-14 season, Rudy Gay has improved his game, taking smarter shots and becoming more of a team-player. In his most recent season, Gay averaged 21.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and a career high 3.7 assists.
Alongside Gay will be Omri Casspi and Caron Butler. Casspi had one of his best seasons in his career last year, but will be left battling newly signed free agent Caron Butler for minutes when Gay takes a rest.
Power Forward – Willie Cauley-Stein: The rookie out of Kentucky will be the starter from day one. There are a lack of options, but by doing so, Cauley-Stein will have more experience and opportunities to grow into the potential All-Star that many think he can be. While at Kentucky, Cauley-Stein cultivated his game, becoming a dominant defender with an average offense. The 7-footer averaged 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game in just 25.9 minutes. Though those numbers don’t seem strong, he just played in 26 minutes per game; if you look at his per-40 stats, he’s averaging a near double-double (13.8 points and 9.9 rebounds). His impressive performance in the Summer League proves that the Kings made a right choice in the draft. If developed correctly, him and DeMarcus Cousins can be a very, very deadly duo.
The Kings have a few big men that will backup Cauley-Stein and Cousins, including newly-signed free agents Kosta Koufos and Quincy Acy, as well as Eric Moreland, who performed well enough in the Summer League to earn himself a contract. Koufos will get a lot of minutes, whether it be backing up Cauley-Stein or Cousins. However, it is more likely he backs up Cousins, as the Kings just signed Acy and will likely use him as a stretch four. Moreland on the other hand, will fight for the scraps and probably will only see a few minutes here and there barring an injury.
Center – DeMarcus Cousins: The leader of the Sacramento Kings has become one of, if not the best center in the NBA. Cousins appeared in 59 games last year, averaging 24.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3,6 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. All of which coincidentally were career highs for the Kentucky product. Cousins is one of the best offensive centers in the NBA and is also a fiend on the boards. Though he and head coach George Karl have not gotten along well – as Karl tried trading Cousins – Cousins will focus on what he wants to do most: win. He is an all-around player and will be the leader of the Sacramento Kings for the foreseeable future.