If you haven’t been keeping up, the Sacramento Kings have a crowded rotation. There are three point guards worthy of minutes. The shooting guard battle likely will to spill over into the small forward position and coach Luke Walton has so many forward options, that one or two players are going to get completely left out.
To make matters more complicated for the newly hired head coach, the team is jam-packed with centers, with three skilled bigs and only 48 minutes to work with.
It should be a lively competition once training camp opens later this week, but here is an early look at where the Kings stand at center after a busy summer of retooling.
On paper, Dewayne Dedmon might not look like a player worthy of a three-year, $40 million contract, but the 30-year-old 7-footer might be a perfect fit next to up-and-comer Marvin Bagley.
Dedmon can stretch the floor, knocking down 38.2 percent from 3-point range last season in Atlanta, but that’s not the extent of his ability. He can run the floor, he rebounds well on the defensive end and he averaged 1.1 blocks in 25.1 minutes per game for the Hawks.
A late bloomer, Dedmon can act as a mentor to the Kings’ young bigs and if one of them takes a tremendous leap, he is a player that has both started and came off the bench throughout his six seasons in the league.
On the downside, Dedmon has played 126 games out of a possible 164 over the last two seasons. There is a good chance that he will miss time during the season and that is why Sacramento bolstered the position with additional pieces.
Harry Giles enters his second season, although it’s his third NBA summer after redshirting his first year. A creator on the offensive end, Giles might be the team’s best high post player and certainly the best distributor outside of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He also is a potential heir apparent at center.
Injuries mostly have robbed Giles three years of development, but he stayed relatively healthy last season and he’s had another year to work on his body. At 21 years old, he has plenty of room to grow and develop, but with the team expected to compete for a playoff spot, minutes have to be earned this season.
Giles has the potential to be another cornerstone for the franchise. He is a fierce competitor and has the potential to become the Kings best interior defender. He needs to show that he can stretch the floor and continue to improve as a rebounder, but there is a lot to love about the 6-foot-10 big.
Vlade Divac made a splash with the Dedmon signing, but adding Richaun Holmes on the cheap has potential to be a game changer for the Kings. He’s an energizer bunny that posted dominant advanced stats in limited minutes last season in Phoenix.
Was the two-year, $10 million contract worth it for what might be a third center? Absolutely. Holmes is a rim runner and a pick-n-roll specialist in the mold of last year’s starter Willie Cauley-Stein. The biggest difference is that Holmes is a better finisher at the rim, a huge improvement on defense and he’s a big time rim protector.
Walton is going to have his hands full deciding who to play out of these two, unless Dedmon can’t stay healthy and opens a door for more playing time.
The Other Guys
This is an interesting position for Walton. He can rely heavily on Dedmon, Giles and Holmes or he can completely go off script.
Bagley is scheduled to play major minutes at the four, but there is no question he can play the five as well in either a standard or small ball lineup. At 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, he has the size and agility to play center. He wasn’t particularly successful there last season, but he was still learning the NBA ropes.
In addition to Bagley, Nemanja Bjelica can slide over and play a stretch five role in a small ball lineup. He isn’t a perfect fit, but there were times last season when he filled in for spot duty and his shooting range helps space the floor.
Divac spent big money on Dedmon, although he hedged his bet with a team option for year 3. The former Hawk brings a veteran influence and an ability to stretch the floor as a center. He’ll be the fifth option on offense, but one that should be able to help space the floor.
Dedmon played a little over 25 minutes a game last season and it’s likely he’ll see a similar number this year in Sacramento. That is, unless the young guys come steal away his time.
The Kings have invested heavily in Giles and he is under team control for at least the next two seasons. He brings play making ability that the team’s other bigs don’t have and Sacramento is hopeful he can develop into a starter and possibly more down the road.
Holmes is another player that fits the Kings’ system, although he’s very different than Dedmon and Giles. Is he lost in the numbers game or are his advanced numbers too much for Walton to pass up on?
There likely will be an open competition during training camp to see who backs up Dedmon, with Giles coming in as the early favorite. Any missed time from the starter could change the dynamic dramatically, and if either Giles or Holmes can prove that they can knock down a 3-pointer consistently, it opens up a new round of possibilities.