Poll: Who should the Sacramento Kings start at small forward on opening night?
The Sacramento Kings have had a glaring hole at small forward for quite some time. They have tried plenty of different players, including Desmond Mason, Antoine Wright, Omri Casspi, Donté Greene, Bonzi Wells, Travis Outlaw, Andres Nocioni and John Salmons (twice). There have been very few options through the draft and even fewer via trade or free agency.
Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro chased Andre Iguodala during the opening week of free agency and nearly landed the former All-Star. But unfortunately, it didn’t work out and once again, there are more questions than answers at the wing for the Kings.
Coach Michael Malone has bodies, but none that seem like a long-term fix. With the competition seemingly wide open, who should get the nod at the wing?
Luc Mbah a Moute
2012-13 season statistics: 6.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 40.1-percent shooting from the field in 22.9 minutes per game
Mbah a Moute joined the Kings via trade this summer after spending the previous five seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. At 6-foot-8, 230-pounds, Mbah a Moute is an elite wing defender when healthy. While he is raw offensively, he did shoot a career-high 13-for-37 (35.1 percent) from 3-point range in 58 games last season. The Kings need him to continue to improve from long range, but more than that, they need him to stay healthy. The 26-year old Mbah a Moute has missed 47 games over the last two seasons due to knee injuries and has never averaged more than 26.5 minutes per game.
2012-13 season statistics: 8.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 39.9-percent shooting from the field in 30.0 minutes per game
Salmons turns 34 in December and his best basketball seems to be behind him. But the versatile wing is a pro’s pro and will no doubt show up to camp in the same incredible shape he has in past seasons. It was clear early on that Salmons and Tyreke Evans were a bad mix, but with Evans gone and Mbah a Moute’s injury history, Salmons might be in for major minutes again this season. The former University of Miami star went 99-for-267 (37.1-percent) from 3-point range last season, but the Kings never really knew what they were going to get out of Salmons on a game-by-game basis.
2012-13 season statistics: 5.3 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.3 steals, 41.8-percent shooting from the field in 11.7 minutes per game
Somewhere in his nine seasons in the NBA, Outlaw lost his confidence. The former Portland Trail Blazers sixth-man has struggled mightily since the 2008-09 season, but at just 28 and with plenty of physical tools, there is always a glimmer of hope that he can find his game once again. Outlaw desperately needs to find his shooting stroke and if that happens, anything is possible with the Kings new coaching staff.
2012-13 season statistics: 10.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 51.2-percent shooting from the field in 25.0 minutes per game
Patterson picked up 56-percent of the votes in last week’s poll for who should start at power forward for the Kings, but there is a possibility that the former Kentucky big man can make a transition to small forward. A tireless worker, the 24-year-old Patterson found success last year in Houston before coming over at the trade deadline in the Thomas Robinson deal. In 24 games with Sacramento, Patterson went 16-for-36 from long range for an impressive 44.4 percent. At 6-foot-9, 235-pounds Patterson is not a great rebounder or post player, but he is athletic enough to play either forward position. With Thompson, Landry, Cousins and Hayes in the post, don’t be shocked if Patterson finds at least a few minutes at the wing.