Who starts at power forward for the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings?
The Sacramento Kings have a glut at the power forward position. Jason Thompson opened last season as the starter. Eventually he lost his job to 34-year-old Reggie Evans, and the carousel at the position continued.
This season, Thompson will face even more competition if he hopes to take back his starting job. Evans returns for his 13th NBA season, but he could easily get lost in a race that includes veterans Carl Landry and Omri Casspi, rookie Eric Moreland and combo forward Derrick Williams.
To make the position battle even more interesting, the group above consists of all different types of players. It’s an intriguing lot with no clear cut leader, as each will try to show that he’s the best fit next to center DeMarcus Cousins this upcoming season.
Thompson has the size and strength to man the position, but maybe not the speed and agility to match up with today’s stretch 4’s. Coming out of college, Thompson had range, but he traded that shooting touch for post moves and a solid left hand. He has become a bit of a throwback big man and really helped keep the pressure off of Cousins on the defensive end last season. Thompson looks lean and in great shape, but will it be enough to guard the league’s perimeter big men? Better yet, does Thompson want to return after six seasons of yo-yo playing time and role changes?
Evans is mean and a has a major ally in Cousins. He does the dirty work and even at his advanced age for an NBA player, he can still rebound at an elite level. Evans sets picks, leads the defense and doesn’t require shots, but he is a limited offensive player and at 34 years old, he is a short-term fix. Evans should probably be the fifth big on this team, but instead, he will vie for a starting job.
2013-14 was a disaster for Landry. After inking a four-year deal last summer, a hip and knee injury limited the veteran forward to just 18 games played. Before jumping into the competition, Landry will have to prove that he is healthy enough to help the team. He is an above-average scorer with decent range, but he’s also an average defender and a below-average rebounder. The Sacramento Kings need Landry’s scoring off the bench, but he is familiar with Malone’s system and the front office would love to see him regain some of his value.
Casspi is a dark horse for the position. He is a combo forward that can stretch the defense with his long-range shooting. Back for his second tour of duty in Sacramento, Casspi has a lot to prove if he hopes to stay in the league, let alone steal away a starting job. He is a better defender and rebounder than his numbers suggest, but is he really a power forward or a player without a true position?
At 23 years old, Williams is still trying to prove he isn’t a bust. He has elite athleticism and can really run the floor, but he always leaves you wondering about his commitment to the game. If the Kings want to push the tempo, Williams is a track star. But he struggles in the halfcourt and has yet to distinguish himself as a shooter, rebounder or defender. A free agent at the end of the season, Williams has a lot on the line. Will he come back from a long summer improved?
After going undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, Moreland played extremely well for the Sacramento Kings in the Las Vegas Summer League. His six-game stint in Vegas was impressive enough to earn a three-year deal with the club, but it’s most likely a deal with very little guaranteed money. Moreland is a shot-blocking defender with an incredible motor and above-average rebounding skills. But he is raw offensively and needs time to develop either as a King or as a Reno Bighorn. Two years from now, Moreland might be the perfect fit next to Cousins.
Barring a late-summer trade, this group of six players will fight for the starting power forward position. From the group, there really isn’t a perfect fit to put alongside Cousins, but Malone does has options. A lot can happen in the six weeks leading to training camp, but for today, which of these six do you want to see in the starting five on opening night?