It isn’t easy to replace a former lottery pick renowned for his acrobatic finishes and high-speed chases. But the Sacramento Kings decided to move on.
The Kings in July declined to match the New Orleans Pelicans’ four-year, $44 million offer to Tyreke Evans allowing the one-time cornerstone to leave as a restricted free agent. Evans was a starter since 2009, and his departure creates a vacancy in the first-string lineup.
One of the many reasons general manager Pete D’Alessandro let Evans go was because he believed in the present shooting guard talent. They come in the form of Marcus Thornton, Ben McLemore and Jimmer Fredette, young gunners all with room to grow.
Thornton (who may have convinced Evans to move since he grew up in Louisiana) was a regular starter in 2011-12 but was moved to the second unit last season. The veteran can create his own perimeter shots and quickly dash to the lane, but his defense and instincts are underwhelming.
Then there’s McLemore, the seventh overall selection of this year’s draft who has the qualities to be a star in the near-future. The 22-year-old is offensively gifted, but he has much to learn like any NBA rookie.
The underdog to start is Fredette, who may have more deficiencies in his game than the inexperienced McLemore. The third-year pro can drain buckets almost at will, but his defense is a liability to the point where the guard can’t earn consistent minutes.
Sacramento could also opt to start two point guards, Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez, at the one and two to improve facilitation. The Kings were 25th in the NBA in assists in 2012-13, so head coach Mike Malone may be desperate enough to try.
But when weighing the candidates’ backgrounds, it seems Thornton is the most likely to begin opening night due to the team’s financial obligations (he in the third year of a four-year, $33 million deal). Though if you’re a McLemore or Fredette fan, don’t fret. Malone will tinker with his starters all season as he seeks to build a future winner.
Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Timesunion.com