Throughout the season, Jason Jones answers readers’ questions about the team in a weekly Twitter mailbag. Tweet your questions with the hashtag #JonesHoldsCourt.
Q: Everyone complains about coach Joerger not having a consistent rotation, but do the Kings even have eight/nine consistently good players to have a rotation with?
– Marc Keller, @mrarmchair
A: That, indeed, is the problem. Lately Willie Cauley-Stein and Zach Randolph have clearly distinguished themselves with Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and George Hill with them. Garrett Temple’s defense keeps him in the mix even if he’s not making shots. But when De’Aaron Fox was healthy, was there really a big difference between he and Frank Mason III every night? How do you decide between Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson? The Kings have a lot of young players who are at similar stages of development and nothing really distinguishes them except who is getting the chance to play that night.
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After the game in Atlanta in November, Dave Joerger essentially said he wanted players to play so hard that he’d be forced to play them. Does he have nine guys doing that consistently? I don’t think so.
Q: We know current roster won’t be 18-19 roster (draft, trades, FA). Do you think *any* of the vets will still be on the team at the start of next season (VC, ZBo, Hill, GT, KK)? Which one(s)?
– Shannon, @LTrain5
A: The two most likely to be around are Randolph and Hill. Temple and Kosta Koufos have player options for next season and I would be surprised if they did not test the market to find their way onto a playoff team. Carter is on a one-year deal and would be free to sign elsewhere.
Fans would love to see Hill dealt, ideally to clear the way for Fox. But the Kings might be wise to hold on to Hill until Fox proves durable. He’s missed time during summer league, the preseason and is out now with a partial tear in his quadriceps muscle.
Q: How do we solve the Big problem? Any minute Kosta gets seems like a wasted opportunity for Willie, Skal or Papa. We have Zbo if we need a huge big in the post and he doesn’t pass to the youngsters. As a 3rd yr Willie should be getting 30+ min. We aren’t developing Kosta & Zbo.
– Sher Clark, @w00sher
A: I don’t see a problem.
Cauley-Stein has been playing around 30 minutes a night for the most part since he began coming off the bench. He’s averaging 30.8 minutes in his last five games, 29.7 in his last nine games. And some of Cauley-Stein’s best games have come playing next to Koufos, so I’m not surprised Koufos remains in the rotation. Playing Koufos 18 minutes is not “developing” him.
If Koufos is playing center, he’s not taking minutes away from Skal Labissiere, who is more of a power forward.
And are you implying Randolph is freezing out young players? That’s not happening. Randolph is in the game to score, and he still does that better than the other Kings who could play in the post.
Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis have to earned the right to play more. They won’t simply be given minutes as a privilege of youth. The only way for Papagiannis to get on the court is to sit Koufos or Randolph and the Kings aren’t about to do that right now.
There aren’t a lot of matchups that are seen as favorable for Papagiannis. The same could be said of Labissiere, who essentially does not play against stretch power forwards.
And the reality is the NBA is not youth sports. Just because you’re on the team does not mean you are guaranteed playing time.
And for today’s non-Kings question:
Q: Who’s the best football player in Poly history?
– Mike Guardabascio, @Guardabascio
A: My ego and delusion says I am the best football player Long Beach Poly has ever produced. Reality, however, tells me that honor goes to Willie McGinest. Pro Bowl player, Super Bowl champion and still a legend back in Long Beach. I can even overlook that he played at USC and recognize his greatness.