Sacramento Kings add rookie Eric Moreland to a crowded frontcourt

Eric Moreland at 2014 NBA Summer League. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

The Sacramento Kings officially announced the signing of rookie forward Eric Moreland Wednesday morning, roughly 16 hours after the undrafted free agent turned to Twitter to proclaim that he had joined the team.

The 22-year-old Moreland joins one of the more crowded front lines in the league.  With the rookie inked, Sacramento now has five natural power forwards on the roster, including Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Quincy Acy and Reggie Evans.  They also have DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Derrick Williams and Travis Outlaw who can play the position and rumors persist that the team intends to sign free agent Omri Casspi to play the position, as well.

“I think Eric is gonna be tremendous for us,” Cousins said following Team USA training camp practice on Wednesday.  “Energy guy.  His motor is unbelievable so I’m excited.  I’m excited to play next to him.”

At 6-foot-10, 224 pounds, with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Moreland brings a specific skill the Kings are desperate to fill.   In six Las Vegas Summer League games, he showed an innate ability to protect the rim and change shots, but the sample size was small.  Moreland finished the tournament averaging a paltry 3.5 points, but his 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 19.2 minutes per game, showed promise.

In his final seasons at Oregon State, Moreland averaged 8.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 29.4 minutes per game, which was on par with the numbers he posted in his previous college season and gives a larger sample size to pull from.

Raw offensively, Moreland will have to make his name in the league as a defensive specialist to start.  In Vegas, he played with an incredible motor and showed an ability to block shots in isolation as well as a weak-side defender.  Adding to his ability to change shots, Moreland also rebounded well, often rising above the crowd to grab boards.  Again, the sample size was small, but his 8.8 rebounds per game – he was playing around 20 minutes per game in Las Vegas – translates to 16.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.

While we don’t know the specifics of his contract, Moreland is far from a lock to make the opening-day roster.  He is the only big man on the roster with a natural ability to defend the rim, but that may not be enough.

By signing the undrafted rookie, the Kings have opened up multiple possibilities moving forward.  If Moreland is ready to contribute, the Kings have the depth to bring him along slowly in small bursts.  If he’s not ready to contribute right away, they can use their hybrid affiliation with the Reno Bighorns to develop him under coach Joel Abelson.

Sacramento would love to answer the power forward question with one player, but there are very few players in the league who can stretch the defense, pass, play defense, block shots and rebound at the four.  For now, they will piece together a roster filled with specialists and hope that coach Michael Malone can make it work.


James Ham

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