We’ve seen this before.
As the Kings try to figure out how to break a losing streak, the lineup is being changed.
That means Jason Thompson is coming off the bench – again.
The Kings, who have lost four in a row, are searching for solutions after 10 games under coach George Karl. In Karl’s first game Feb. 20 against Boston, he brought Thompson off the bench to spark the second unit.
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Karl did that again Monday against Atlanta, starting Carl Landry at power forward.
Thompson said he’s not bothered by coming off the bench, even though he’s started most of the season.
“It’s like I’ve said over the years, it’s not a thing about starting,” Thompson said. “With successful teams, you already know who the starters are going to be and rightfully so. If you continue to win, why would you change up the lineup? But sometimes it’s not the individual stuff. It’s on the continuity of the bench, more energy and more flow.
“And maybe there’s more opportunity ... (because) the guys who are top in scoring get a lot of touches. So there’s not that much balance on the team, like a Hawks team or something like that. So we’ll see what happens.”
As a starter, Thompson usually is the fourth or fifth option on offense. Center DeMarcus Cousins and small forward Rudy Gay carry the load, and the Kings always try to give guard Ben McLemore some looks because of his potential as a perimeter shooter.
Playing with the second unit will give Thompson more opportunities on offense.
Karl sees his second unit being able to run and benefit from veteran point guard Andre Miller’s passing.
“I think Jason can help us there,” Karl said. “Sometimes it’s matchups, too. If we play a big team, I’ll have to start Jason. But I think I’m going to go with Jason with that unit and tinker with the first unit.”
Thompson is unsure how his role off the bench will develop. If he’s limited to being Cousins’ backup, his minutes could be limited. But if Thompson plays power forward, too, more minutes will be available.
“Depending on if it’s the four (power forward) or the five (center), it’s kind of tough playing behind a guy who plays a ton of minutes and is arguably your best player (Cousins),” Thompson said.
When he plays next to Cousins in the starting lineup, Thompson’s primary role is to defend and rebound – offense is not a priority.
When the Kings are moving the ball well, it creates more looks for every starter, but Gay and Cousins are still the primary options.
“There’s times when you don’t touch the ball as much,” Thompson said. “Also when you’re guarding the best (opposing post player), you don’t want to foul. But if you’re playing against All-Star-caliber guys, they’re going to get the call. It’s hard to get into a rhythm if you have two fouls early into the game.”
At its best, the Kings’ offense will set up the big men for plenty of good looks.
“With how we play, if the big guys learn how to play, the game will come to them,” Karl said. “A lot of easy baskets come your way.”
If that’s the case, Thompson might find happiness in his new role.
BETTER OFF BENCH?
While he’s started more this season, Jason Thompson’s averages see some improvement when he’s a reserve.