As many people have heard, Vlade Divac and the Sacramento Kings staff had a very positive draft. On draft day, they picked up an extra first round pick through a trade and brought home four new names into the Sacramento spotlight. The real question is, who is going to be starting on the court for the Kings come October 31?
The Kings this offseason released SF Rudy Gay and he is now a part of the San Antonio Spurs. Even though he suffered an injury last season and was replaced, there will still be a lot of difficulty in filling that spot for this upcoming season. Currently in the depth chart for that position are two small forwards. Malachi Richardson holds a position on the depth chart, and he has one season of experience. He was drafted in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets at the 22nd spot, but was acquired by Sacramento for the whole season. Richardson saw time in 22 different games last season and averaged about nine minutes per game. His stat line was nothing to rave about, but he did post a promising 41.2% field goal percentage.
Currently behind Richardson on the depth chart is rookie Justin Jackson. Jackson is a thin small forward that offers a lot of scoring potential. He shoots over 40% from downtown and has a decent mid-range game to add to that. In this past NBA Summer League, Jackson averaged almost 17 points a game over six games. It will be intriguing to see him come off of the bench and tally up the bench score for the Kings. I feel confident in his ability to create a shot and work with the ball on offense. If he wants to see more consistent minutes though, he will have to build a defensive presence on the court.
Lastly, the other person I find the most inclined to fill this void spot is veteran and former All-Star Vince Carter. Carter was signed to the Kings during the summer and there are plans for him this upcoming season. I believe he will be taking the starting job at small forward this season because he is seasoned as a player and has faced action in the Western Conference for the past six seasons. Carter was also brought to Sacramento to help guide the young players like Jackson and Richardson in the right direction as they look to kickstart their careers in the NBA. Carter is now 40 years old and will be starting on season number 20 come this October.
Overall, I think Carter will have the starting job at the small forward position going into the start of the season. I am not sure on the amount of minutes he will face though. Even with his age, the past few seasons he has proven that he still has power and athleticism, but his mind for basketball will give these young players a fresh look on the game and more tools to add in their basketball toolbox. In addition to Carter taking the starting job, the Kings will be looking at a whole new starting squad overall. Newly acquired point guard George Hill will be at the point guard position. Most likely Buddy Hield will take the two spot on the floor. Another battle is at the power forward position, but right now the Kings are looking towards Zach Randolph or Skal Labissiere. Lastly, there is a lot of open range at the center position between Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein.
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