Summer question: What will Kings' guard rotation look like?
The Sacramento Kings have plenty of questions that need answering at the small forward, power forward and center positions. That’s not really the case when it comes to the backcourt.
With plenty of options to choose from, Dave Joerger has the pieces to mix and match his lineups. But the minutes distribution at both the point and shooting guard positions are nearly set outside of a battle for one of the reserve spots.
The Kings are young and want to run this season. They’ll need depth at the guard position at some point during an 82-game schedule. Here is a look at the team’s current options in the backcourt five weeks before training camp.
2017-18 Stats: 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 30.7% 3-pts, 27.8 min
Fox is the face of the franchise coming into the 2018-19 season. After an up and down rookie campaign, Sacramento is hoping the speedster out of Kentucky takes a major step forward in his sophomore year.
With 60 starts under his belt last season, it’s now Fox’s team to run. He’ll need to show improvement in his perimeter shot to open up the rest of his game, but the tools are there.
Sacramento wants to push the pace this season. Fox is the perfect guard to implement the new style of play. He’s in line to play 30-plus minutes a night as the Kings' leader on the court.
2017-18 Stats: 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, .9 steals, 39.2 3-pts, 27.9 min
Bogdanovic might have been the Kings’ team MVP last season after coming over from Europe. The 25-year-old wing underwent a procedure for a slight tear of the medial meniscus following the season, but he’s expected to be ready for camp.
A seasoned veteran of the Euro leagues, Bogdanovic is versatile enough to start at either guard positions or at small forward for Sacramento this season. He’s one of the team’s best playmakers and his shooting numbers steadily increased throughout the season.
It’s hard to picture a scenario where Bogdanovic isn’t in the starting lineup, although his position is likely still up in the air. With a year of NBA experience under his belt, the Kings are hoping that Bogdanovic can take a big jump in year two, especially as a scorer.
2017-18 Stats: 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 43.1% 3-pts, 25.3 min
Hield can score and down the stretch of last season, he started to show that he can do a lot more than that. An elite shooter from the perimeter, Hield has worked tirelessly to improve his ball handling and playmaking skills.
He’s still a work in progress as a defender, but Hield showed more interest on this side of the ball late in the season. He played the passing lanes and did a better job sticking with his man on the perimeter.
If Hield wants to take the next step as a scorer, he has to find a way to get to the free throw line, where he averaged just one attempt per game last season. He found a niche off the Kings bench as a number one scoring option, but there is an outside shot that he works his way back into the starting lineup this season and he has the potential to lead the team in scoring.
2017-18 Stats: 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, .8 steals, 37.3% 3-pts, 27.8 min
A late add during the free agency period, Ferrell will compete for the backup point guard spot with Frank Mason. After working his way into the NBA via the G-League and 10-day contracts, Ferrell found a home with the Dallas Mavericks over the past two seasons.
Fortunately for Sacramento, the 25-year-old out of Indiana got lost in a contract shuffle with the Mavs and found himself available late. The Kings jumped at the chance to add another speedy guard with scoring potential.
After playing in all 82 games, including 21 starts last season for Dallas, Ferrell is the early favorite for a spot in the rotation. He can provide instant offense, play either guard position and can really push the tempo.
2017-18 Stats: 7.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, .7 steals, 36% 3-pts, 18.9 min
Mason earned his way into the rotation last season, but then struggled with injuries. He was given a long look during summer league, both in Sacramento and in Las Vegas, but didn’t have a great showing.
The addition of Yogi Ferrell creates a log jam at the point guard position and Mason is in a dogfight for minutes. He’ll compete for the back-up job behind Fox during training camp, but the loser of that battle is unlikely to see court time early in the season.
Mason is a tough guy. He found a way to work himself into the mix last year and there is a good chance he’ll play minutes for the Kings again this season.
2017-18 Stats: 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, .9 assists, .7 steals, 34.6% 3-pts, 19.5 min
There was a time when McLemore was a huge part of the Kings’ future. Now in his second stint with the club, the view on the former Kansas star has changed dramatically.
A super athlete with a smooth stroke from the perimeter, McLemore has struggled to find a place in the NBA. He was the main piece in the Garrett Temple trade, but it’s more likely he is either traded or bought out than a viable piece to the puzzle in Sacramento this season.
The Kings are deep at McLemore’s natural shooting guard position. If he sticks around through camp, he’s likely viewed as organizational depth or a potential trade chip closer to the deadline.
2017-18 Stats: 4.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, .6 steals, 26.9% 3-pts, 19.7 min
Shumpert played in just 14 games last season after knee issues led to plantar fasciitis. Still just 28-years-old, Shumpert is a solid wing defender with plenty of playoff experience.
He had a down year from the perimeter, shooting well below his career-average of 33.8 percent from behind the arc. Injuries played a part in his offensive struggles, but Shumpert has always been limited as an offensive player.
The Kings already said goodbye to veteran Garrett Temple, but Shumpert’s $11.4 million contract is tougher to move. Like the other vets on the team, he might have to bide his time and wait for an opportunity to get in the mix. Then again, Dave Joerger might need a mature stabilizing defensive presence in his starting lineup at either the two or the three.
Joerger can go plenty of different directions with his backcourt rotation, but Fox, Bogdanovic and Hield are his three primary players. The trio might even start together in a three guard set.
Fox is the table setter at the lead guard spot. He’s one of the fastest players in the league and will be asked to push the tempo from the opening bounce of the season. Bogdanovic is the stabilizing force that helps create for himself and others. Both of these players thrive in the big moment.
Hield is either the first option off the bench or the team’s starting two. His improvement down the stretch earned him plenty of praise from the coaching staff.
Ferrell was brought in to play substantial minutes, but he’ll have to pry them away from Mason. Shumpert and McLemore might struggle to see the court.
As of today, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Joerger open the season with Fox, Bogdanovic and Hield all in the starting lineup. It’s an undersized look, but if the Kings push the tempo, they might be able to mask the limitations of the group.