Rounders Block wrote:There was a lot of changeover at the back-end of Smart's rotation last season, where we'd see Jimmer & Garcia routinely pile up DNP-CD's during stretches, mainly because Smart wasn't interested in throwing guys out there just for the heck of it. Obviously a lot of guys at the 1-3 spots as you listed, but a ton of bad to below-average options there as well. Brooks, Fredette (10.8 PER), Garcia (10.7), and wait, it gets better ... Salmons (9.7!!). Are you listing guys just to list them, or do you legitimately believe any one of them will seriously push Thornton for minutes? These things get sorted out, and this isn't a case like the Spurs where there's legitimate depth and a real reason to push their rotation 9-10 players deep. I'm confident Thornton will get 30+ minutes a game next season because he's clearly the best player out of that whole group (Reke included), and any reasonable coach (which Smart is) will realize you can't expect to win games without your 2nd best player on the floor. Especially with his backups being as bad as they are.
I totally acknowledge the downside there, but I just don't buy it is all.
Freely admit that there are a lot of questionable players in that rotation, but the mere fact that the team has so many options who could eat up minutes has to at least give you pause.
Jimmer may have played terribly last season, but it's not hard to imagine that the team may feel it has a vested interest in him and put pressure on the coach to play him. Look at how much PT he got last season despite playing terribly. All the talk during summer league was about the coaching staff trying to help him reach his potential, and I think it's highly unlikely that his minutes would come from the PG spot where they already have Isaiah and Brooks.
Salmons did not play very well either last season, but he still managed to start for most of the games he played and got significant PT every game. Also, they're paying him too much to sit him.
Garcia is not a great player and didn't play that well last season, but he also managed to get 10+ min/g whenever he was healthy. He's a clear candidate to sit amongst the SG options on the team, but he clearly has the type of game that coaches like because he's gotten significant minutes from several coaches despite mediocre production.
Whether Tyreke is better than Thornton or not, he will always get substantial PT simply because of how great he played in his first couple of seasons and the team's hope that he will rediscover that version of himself. It's been shown every season, and I don't see any reason why they'd suddenly stop now when they're reaching the point where they need to make a final decision on him. The PG experiment didn't work out, he didn't do great as an SF, and his best games have come while he was playing SG. Not sure how well he meshes with Thornton either since both are scorers
TWill was a marginal player last season, but also kept getting 10+ minutes of PT.
James Johnson was sought after by the team in the offseason for a reason, and could arguably eat up a lot of PT by being a glue guy surrounded by so many scorers.
Smart was the coach last season and was involved in giving all of those guys (other than Johnson) the PT they got, so it's not unreasonable to suspect that he may continue doing so. I don't think it's as simple as the Kings wanting to win and Thornton being one of the key players in pulling that off. I think the team is still trying to figure out what they have and discovery an identity, and that's going to involve experimenting and giving different players PT.
You know me. I'm the conversative type and thus would hesitate to put him in the top 25-30. Thornton was doing most of his damage when he was getting 35+ min/g, and I don't see him getting that much PT barring injuries or a trade (which there's been no indication of). However, I would not be surprised at all if others took him then based on his potential, particularly since the SG pool is not as deep as it used to be. Definitely wouldn't fault anyone for doing so either.