3 major things to keep an eye on during training camp
The Sacramento Kings are heading into training camp with many expectations to fulfill and lots of optimism from its fans. Yet many questions will need to be answered not only locally but also nationally.
The Kings have taken plenty of heat from the national media in 2015. Remember the Michael Malone and Pete D’Alessandro fiasco? The backlash from the Nik Stauskas trade? The George Karl versus DeMarcus Cousins rumors?
There have been numerous things that the Kings have had to overcome during this offseason. While it has definitely cooled down, training camp is only a week away and it seems as only a matter of time until those old stories begin to arise if losses begin to pile up during the season. Then the stability of the franchise will be questioned once again.
These are the three question marks the Kings are going to have to address in training camp before they step to the hardwood on opening night.
Who is your starting point guard?
The Kings are stacked at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, and Seth Curry are all looking to battle for minutes as the lead guard.
The two you are mainly looking at is Rondo and Collison. The assumption heading into camp is that Rondo has the position locked up over Collison. However, the position is actually more open than many may think.
Neither Collison nor Rondo have played one game under Karl, so assuming it’s Rondo’s position to lose is a bit naive. The NBA is more of a “what have you done for me lately” type of league. If that’s the case, then the player who should be in the lead is actually Collison.
Before being injured and missing the final 37 games of the season, Collison was having an amazing season as Sacramento’s third leading scorer. Collison averaged 16.1 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.5 turnovers.
His ability to change gears, finish around the basket, and knockdown 3-pointers with consistency (37 percent), made him a key contributor for this team.
Collison is going to need to prove he can be a team leader and distributor during training camp if he wants to earn that starting role over Rondo.
The last thing we saw from Rondo was getting benched for most of the second half (only played 34 seconds) in game 2 against the Houston Rockets. After the game, Rick Carlisle announced Rondo wouldn’t wear a Mavericks jersey ever again. Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists, and 2.5 turnovers in Dallas.
Rondo’s scoring inability needs to be addressed as he attempts to run Karl’s dribble-drive motion offense. By no means does it mean he needs to be elite in that department but last season with the Mavericks, when stepping away anywhere from 3-to-10 feet from the basket, Rondo averaged an abysmal 35 percent. Not only that, but Rondo also shot a horrific 45 percent from the free-throw line.
This point guard battle is wide-open even though Rondo signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract.
Is the Cousins vs. Karl beef truly over?
We all remember the handshake. We all remember the twitter posts. The fact remains that this situation between coach Karl and Cousins was a real problem for this franchise. It was such a problem that general manager Vlade Divac came out publicly and stated that it was “not pretty.”
The feud between the two has been put on the back burner but there is a huge possibility it will spark back up if the team faces some type of adversity during the course of the season.
The main point of this question is making sure that the coaching does not change because Karl is going to do whatever it takes to make his star happy.
How will the minutes be split?
This question seems obvious. All teams will find out during training camp, but there are so many options for Karl to use in different situations.
Look at a guy like Ben McLemore who is looking to make a significant jump once again, as he did from year one to year two. Now he has a lot of competition, not just from Belinelli, but also from Collison and Curry.
Coach Karl has been very adamant about the league turning into a “two point guard league.” With Collison and Curry having the ability to move without the basketball, but more importantly knocking down the 3-point shot, that gives these two players a higher chance to see minutes on the floor.
Same goes for the power forward position. Will the Kings use small ball a lot more this season since Karl is known to use his wings to create problems for natural power forwards? Using guys like Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi at the four rather than Willie Cauley-Stein, Quincy Acy, or Kosta Koufos would create more issues for opposing teams.
I predict it will be an eight-man rotation, but I could also see coach Karl using every man on his bench.
There are more questions that need to be addressed during training camp, but these are the three that everyone needs to keep their eye on when training camp begins.
What questions do you want answered during training camp? What do you feel needs to be addressed?