First up, I missed shoot-around today. Although there is media access on game days, the coaches and players want to get out as fast as possible so they can eat and relax before prepping for the game. Fortunately, my sources have passed on some good information.
The starting line-up for this evening will be:
- Tyreke Evans
- Luther Head
- Donté Greene
- Carl Landry
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Beno Udrih- Out with a sprained right shoulder.
- Samuel Dalembert- Out with a strained adductor muscle.
- Hassan Whiteside- Out with left patella strain.
Pretty big news here. Donté Greene has seemingly been in the dog house all pre-season. He told us here at The Purple Panjandrum that as of Saturday, he was down to 240-pounds (from 260) and feeling good. Greene has played a total of 44 minutes over the first three games. After coming into camp as one of two players vying for the Kings starting small forward position, Greene has not impressed and opened the door for other players like Marcus Landry and Antoine Wright to enter the competition. It will be interesting to see how Donté uses this opportunity and whether or not he can conform to “the job description” put forth by Coach Paul Westphal. I will try to catch up with him before the game for comment.
Luther Head is another surprise start tonight….sort of. Coming into camp, Head looked like a lock to make the roster, but after a very slow start, the rumor around camp was that he was going to have to really turn it around or he would be cut soon. Pooh Jeter has yet to set the world on fire with his play, and with the injury to Beno Udrih, it is not a big surprise to see Head get some minutes against the speedy Monta Ellis. Taking the ball to the hoop and drawing fouls is nice and all, but Head needs to keep shooting the three to open up the middle for Evans.
Carl Landry is back from the eye injury and more importantly, he appears to have gotten some of his quickness back that was lacking early in camp. Landry is still the favorite to start at power forward for the Kings on game one, but he is going to have to hold off the bull that is Jason Thompson. Thompson has been paired with Cousins in the last two games and they seem like a good fit. Besides bringing size and strength, Thompson is also tied for second on the team in assists (9) with starting point guard Tyreke Evans. Landry needs to show that he can rebound like a starting NBA front line player or he may just lose out to JT.
With Samuel Dalembert out, rookie DeMarcus Cousins is getting valuable minutes and experience. He needs to cut down on the fouls, but overall, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky has been impressive, posting 16 points and 10 rebounds a game in just 25 minutes of play.
Omri Casspi is the last of the small forwards to still not start a game (including the open practice). With back-to-back games tonight against the Warriors and tomorrow night against the Lakers in Las Vegas, it will be interesting to see if Coach Westphal gives the Israeli born player a shot to play alongside Evans and Cousins.