Kings coach George Karl is often asked about his starting lineup, and he points out that starters aren’t as important as those who will play the majority of minutes and those who will finish games.
Karl used Friday’s practice to look at a lineup he could use at the end of games.
The group of Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, Marco Belinelli, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins provides several key elements Karl has discussed in the last month: two point guards (Rondo and Collison), perimeter shooting (Belinelli) and Gay at power forward next to Cousins.
The group would put a lot of pressure on defenses.
“You look at that lineup, everybody’s a playmaker, and we have a lot of shooters on the court,” Collison said. “So it’s going to be a good lineup for us down the stretch (of games), and hopefully we have a lot of success with it.”
Karl agrees, but he has some concerns.
“There’s a lot of strengths to it offensively and probably some weaknesses to it defensively,” Karl said. “Those five guys have got to get better habits in defending seriously.”
Using that lineup would make the Kings small on the perimeter, but Gay would give them a quicker player at power forward. And the group would be able to attack defenses in different ways and create the space Karl desires.
But the lineup might give up too many points.
“At the end of games, I think that would be a great offensive unit, and right now it would be a scary defensive unit,” Karl said.
When asked how he might address that fear, Karl said, “Maybe a little zone.”
Trying different lineups is part of the learning process Karl admittedly is going through. He still lacks a firm grasp on what the players do best, a process he expects will take several regular-season games.
Though Karl wants improvement in some areas, he’s encouraged by the team’s progress. For example, Karl said he’d like better shot selection, though he said it’s not an indictment of the choices being made.
Though Karl said the Kings have exceeded his expectations, like most coaches he’s not getting too high or too low based on practices and preseason games.
“They’re much further ahead and better than I thought they’d be,” Karl said. “I compliment their focus. The newness of this team has (added) some culture and camaraderie to the team that wasn’t here last year. But you never know.”