Editor's note: This is the second installment of NBC Sports California's "20 questions facing Kings" series that will look into pressing matters for the team once the NBA returns.

When the Kings went bargain hunting after three big splurges in free agency last summer, they found a gem in Richaun Holmes. 

Less than a week into the 2019-20 season, Holmes had already taken Dewayne Dedmon’s starting job and it wasn’t long before he was one of the Kings’ most consistent contributors.

Holmes started 33 straight games before tearing the labrum in his right shoulder on Jan. 6. He missed 25 games with the injury and when he returned, the Kings were bringing him off the bench initially while he found his rhythm.

Before the postponement of the Kings and Pelicans game on Mar. 11, Holmes was announced as the starter for Sacramento, although he likely would have been on a minutes restriction.

There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty as to how the NBA will move forward from here. If and when the season does return, Holmes will likely be the Kings starting center moving forward, but should they address the position again in free agency when the offseason begins?

Nuts and Bolts

The Kings had no idea that Holmes would fit so seamlessly into their rotation. If they did, perhaps Holmes would have received the three-year, $39 million deal that Dedmon received. 

As it stands, the Kings have Holmes under contract at less than $5 million this season and a little over $5 million next year, making him one of the better bargains in the NBA. 

 

The 26-year-old made it clear on this week’s Purple Talk podcast that he believes he’s found a home in Sacramento and would love to finish his career in a Kings uniform. 

Stats

There is a lot to like about Holmes as a player. Initially thought of as more of an energy big with a defensive mindset, he has developed himself into a refined offensive weapon as well.

When the season was placed on hold, Holmes’ true shooting percentage of 68.5 percent ranked second only to the Jazz’s Rudy Gobert amongst NBA starting centers. 

Holmes plays to his strengths, playing the roll man in the pick-and-roll, getting offensive rebounds and put backs, and never straying far from the rim. Of his 322 shot attempts, 273 came within 10 feet of the basket, with 186 of those shots coming inside of three feet. 

On the glass, Holmes has room to improve. He ranks outside the top 20 in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates amongst NBA starters. 

Holmes leads the Kings in offensive, defensive and total rebounds per game on the season, but there is room for improvement. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Holmes is a hustle player that leads the team in blocks at 1.4 per game and also chips in a steal per game. With Holmes on the court, the Kings run a defensive rating of 110.8. With him off the court, that number spikes to 112.7.

Listen and subscribe to the Purple Talk Podcast:

Positives

Holmes is one of those players where his overall stats don’t tell the entire story. His hustle and energy are an intangible that the Kings needed. His ability to be extremely effective as a fifth option on the offensive end makes him a nice fit for a team with a lot of offensive weapons.

If the Kings ever get back to playing at a frenetic pace, Holmes is a perfect rim runner for their offense. His ability to score above the rim in the pick-and-roll game helps keep defenses honest.

As a defender, Holmes makes the Kings better and he has the ability to hide some of the deficiencies of his teammates. 

Holmes is also an extremely hard worker and a good locker room presence. He’s unselfish and plays to his strengths about as well as any player in the league. 

Negatives

In the modern NBA, you would like to see your bigs be able to stretch the floor on occasion with the three-point shot. Holmes showed an ability to do this a few years back, but his game is better suited for playing around the rim.

While he is a tremendous athlete, Holmes is slightly undersized to go up against some of the bigger fives in the league. He can get shoved around a bit against bulkier players, although he makes up for some of that deficiency with quickness and tenacity.

 

His rebounding numbers have to improve if he is going to play 30+ minutes per game, but he is a willing learner and has taken positive steps almost every year in the league. 

There is also a concern as to how Holmes will fit with Marvin Bagley, but the former No. 2 overall played a total of 13 games for the Kings before the shutdown began. 

Holmes is better suited to play alongside a power forward like Nemanja Bjelica or Harrison Barnes who can stretch the floor, but there are decades of NBA film showing creative ways to use two conventional bigs together on the court. 

Is Holmes the long term solution at center for the Kings?

The easy answer is yes, but it might be more complex than that. 

There may come a time when the Kings shift Bagley to the center position or another player comes along through trade or the draft, but Holmes is more than a stop-gap. 

At 26, Holmes fits the age of the team perfectly. He has the ability to run the floor with De’Aaron Fox and the rest of the squad. He plays to his strengths and understands his role.

Sacramento will need to keep a player like Alex Len on the roster to battle some of the bigger centers in the league, but that seems like a small price to pay.

[Related: Holmes loves Sacramento, hopes to finish career with Kings]

Holmes is efficient on both ends of the court, he fits the scheme and ideology of the squad and he’s shown that he can impact a game without having to be featured. He also wants to be in Sacramento and has instantly become part of the community. 

Whether he’s a starter for years to come or a major minute reserve, someone needs to do the dirty work and the Kings are better for having Holmes on the roster.