What will Sacramento’s shooting guard depth chart look like?

Anthony Bertacchi’s piece yesterday on CowbellKingdom.com about the future of Ben McLemore is a perfect segue into a discussion of the depth chart at shooting guard for the Kings in 2016-17.

The article points out that McLemore, in his third season with the Kings, often slid back into the shadows during games. It’s the most accurate way of explaining what actually happened.

The straight up, say-it-to-my-face way of putting it is, George Karl abandoned him—which is exactly why Sacramento needs to start McLemore at shooting guard in 2016-17.


Yes, the team just signed veteran SG Arron Afflalo — one of the league’s better bang for your buck deals during an outrageous summer of free agency.

But at least in the beginning, the Kings would be smart to mix Afflalo in behind McLemore for two important reasons.

1: Confidence – If the Kings want to see McLemore’s 42.9 percent shooting percentage go up, then they have to give this kid some confidence. You let the guy know you recognize his talent and let him see the ball go in the hoop early on in the year.

He played a career-low 21.2 minutes per game last season and wasn’t given a chance to develop any sort of rhythm. Game planning against McLemore last season went something like this — make him miss his first couple of shots, and he’s DONE.

2: Solid plan B – The Kings picked up the option on McLemore for the 2016-17 season. They’ll pay him a little over $4 million. Start McLemore for the first 25 games while mixing Afflalo in 27-30 minutes a night in other ways, including some starts. If that plan is working, excellent. If it’s not, then the Kings can simply cut bait with McLemore and they have Afflalo to fall back on.


Afflalo is a 10-year veteran with playoff experience. He averaged 12.8 points 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 71 games for the Knicks last season. He’s been a solid player for the duration of his career, which peaked over three very good seasons from 2011-2014 with Denver and Orlando.

The bottom line on Afflalo is, he’s a very solid player—not a guy you shake up the roster for to start a new season.

Starting Afflalo will be a steady plan that I’m sure Dave Joerger will go to at least two dozen times or more next season. But if Ben McLemore begins the year on the bench, he’ll essentially pick up where he left off as the same mediocre player he’s been over the last three years.

Who knows, even if McLemore succeeds as the starter, the Kings still may want to trade him in the final year of a rookie contract. If McLemore is given his last chance as a starter in a Kings uniform, you open up more options during the year.

Therefore, if the season starts tomorrow you’ve got McLemore, Afflalo and then the other guys.

Newly acquired Garrett Temple and Lamar Patterson both shot more threes than twos last season, and both of their percentages were dismal.

Temple was 34.5 percent shooting from deep and 39.8 percent overall in 80 games for the Wizards. Patterson played in 35 games for the Hawks in his first NBA season and was 28-of-80 (.350) shooting.

Malachi Richardson, the Kings’ rookie from Syracuse, didn’t impress during summer league play in Las Vegas. He finished the summer league averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 turnovers over five games.

Given what Temple and Patterson are bringing to the table, Richardson should have an equal opportunity to compete for minutes.

A lot may change with the Kings between now and the first game of the season in the brand new Golden 1 Center. If the shooting guard situation remains the same, the Kings need to realize they’re at a crossroads with Ben McLemore.

First, he needs to start. He needs that symbolic last chance at the beginning of the year. Then the Kings can monitor how things unfold, and make a decision that will help them win games in 2016-17 and beyond.

Shooting Guard Depth Chart

1: Ben McLemore

2: Arron Afflalo

3: Garrett Temple, Lamar Patterson, Malachi Richardson

*The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or Cowbell Kingdom.


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