Sacramento Kings position battle: Who should start at shooting guard?
The Sacramento Kings may not be done dealing, but as of right now, they are set to enter the season with a pair of very young shooting guards fighting it out for the starting position. Ben McLemore is the incumbent, but rookie Nik Stauskas brings a skillset that may better complement the starting five.
Training camp will likely decide who opens the season in the starting backcourt alongside newcomer Darren Collison, but here’s a look at the competition:
At just 21 years old, McLemore is a long way from being a finished product. In 82 games last season with the Sacramento Kings, the former Kansas star averaged 8.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 26.7 minutes of action.
The super-athletic McLemore struggled with his shot in his rookie campaign, shooting just 37.6 percent from the field and 32 percent from long range. He has worked hard to improve his ball-handling skills over the summer, but the game still needs to slow down if he hopes to show improvement in year two.
During Las Vegas Summer League, McLemore looked more aggressive than he did at any point in his first professional season. The aggressive play equated to baskets at the rim, but, also, an increase in turnovers. On the defensive end, McLemore has potential, but he often overplays his man and struggles in rotations.
He is a work in progress, but the 2013 seventh overall selection has a solid motor and is known as a gym rat.
For the second straight year, the Sacramento Kings used the eigth pick of the draft to acquire a shooting guard. Stauskas and McLemore couldn’t be more different as players, despite playing the same position.
Where McLemore is a raw athlete, Stauskas is a refined shooter with range. The 20-year-old guard out of Michigan has above-average ball-handling skills and is an accomplished passer, as well. Stauskas can run the pick and and roll and his long-range shooting will spread the floor for both DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Stauskas will struggle on the defensive end initially, but he is a high-IQ basketball player that is rarely out of position. He needs to improve as a rebounder and work hard to stay in front of his man, common issues for many rookies.
Last week, we looked into the power forward position and the results were startling. Undrafted rookie Eric Moreland won the fan voting with 27 percent of the nearly 1,200 responses. Derrick Williams, Reggie Evans and Jason Thompson all drew more than 200 votes apiece, but Moreland and his six summer league games’ worth of experience ruled the day.
It’s the same basic question this week, but we switch to the shooting guard position. Will one year of NBA experience make all the difference for McLemore? Can Stauskas hold his own on both ends of the floor? If the season started today, who would you start at the shooting guard position for the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings?