Predicting Walton’s Lineups

There were no blaring noises or even a steady hum that anyone seemed to notice, but that’s not to say the offseason in Sacramento was spent idly. In a fashion that suits its modest sense of urbanity, new general manager Monte McNair made small, yet sensible additions to fill out the roster with the sort of disdain for fluff that you expect from the engineer of a well-oiled machine.

With the signing of Hassan Whiteside, Glenn Robinson III, and Frank Kaminsky to one-year, veteran minimum deals, as well as the drafting of Tyrese Haliburton and others, Luke Walton will have to configure some lineups for this nuanced group.

Though there is not a palpable buzz around this team in the eyes of the league, this is a talented team. Which leads you to believe that, at least to start, this Kings team will be competing. Then, if in fact the team performs lousy, they can slowly peter out their effort and shift gears to the art of tanking.

Assuming every Kings player is healthy and ready to play, the starting five should consist of:

Opening Night Starting Five

PG: De’Aaron Fox

SG: Buddy Hield

SF: Harrison Barnes

PF: Marvin Bagley

C: Hassan Whiteside

De’Aaron Fox is obviously starting, and Buddy should get the nod over Haliburton since Hield has the track record of valuable talent. Plus, it’s safe to say that after all the drama of being moved to the bench has subsided, Buddy should feel pretty sure that the starting off-guard duties are his to lose. Whether McNair’s long term plan sees Hield as an on-court asset or a trade asset, giving the sharpshooter plenty of playing time plays to either strategy.

At the small forward position, Harrison Barnes should keep the job over Glenn Robinson and I think it would be a little delusional to not start Marvin Bagley. Though, keeping Bagley at the four opposed to the five is vital.

The tough call is at center between Whiteside and Holmes. It arguably goes to Whiteside because he is simply better at grabbing boards and blocking shots. Holmes may be a fan favorite and brings energy on the court, but if the Kings begin with a case of playoff desire, then starting Whiteside is the right move.

Regardless if you think this team will win 40 or lose 40, this is a talented starting lineup with Fox’s punch, Hield and Bagley’s potential, and the presence of Barnes and Whiteside.

Even with the above as the supposed starting lineup, Walton still has some weapons to use off his bench:

Primary Second Unit Lineup

PG: Cory Joseph

SG: Tyrese Haliburton

SF: Glenn Robinson III

PF: Nemanja Bjelica

C: Richaun Holmes

Cory Joseph will get most of the minutes at the backup point guard position, but Haliburton may likely run the offense for the second unit at shooting guard.

Glenn Robinson is a solid backup small forward and a great pickup by McNair. For the rest of the front court, Walton will have a lot of options ranging from Holmes, Bjelica, Parker, and Kaminsky. Although, I think last season’s primary starters in Bjelica and Holmes, will get most of the minutes off the bench.

When you think about it that way, when two of your previous season’s starters are now key role players off the bench, it’s clear this team has improved over the offseason.

Sure, Sacramento lacks an All-Star, but they said the same thing about Portland for years when Lillard kept winning the league’s Most Improved Snub Award. Call it optimistic, or call it a pandemic-induced hallucination, but it’s certainly not foolish to think this Kings team can actually do something.

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