30Q | Articles | Commentary

30Q: Can Tyrese Haliburton Play Small Forward?

It’s time once again for us to talk ourselves into a player playing out of position.

The Sacramento Kinga have an abundance of guards. Between De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis, and Jahmi’us Ramsey, there simply won’t be enough minutes for everyone.

But what for all that the Kings have in guards, they’re lacking in small forwards. Harrison Barnes has shown that he’s best suited as a stretch four, but is certainly capable of spending time at the three. Maurice Harkless is primarily a three, but can also slide to the four spot from time to time. The only other real wing player on the current roster is Louis King, who had a good Summer League but still may not be ready to be a rotation player.

With so many guards who are worthy of playing time, and with no such logjam at the three, we know we can expect to see at least one or two of the guards tasked with playing small forward. It won’t be called that, of course. It’ll be called a three-guard lineup, because that sounds better than suggesting that the roster is poorly balanced. But at the end of the day positions come down to who you’re defending. The biggest or strongest guard generally becomes the de facto small forward.

Last year that duty was often placed on Buddy Hield. While Buddy doesn’t have the height or defensive prowess to stop opposing wings, he certainly has the strength to avoid being pushed around by larger guys. It still didn’t have good results though.

Which brings us to the question of Tyrese Haliburton. Can he play small forward?

Haliburton stands at a listed 6’5”, taller than Buddy Hield or any other Kings guard. His wingspan was reported predraft as being 6’7.5”, and we saw last season how Tyrese used that wingspan to disrupt passing lanes. The height and reach suggest Haliburton as a wing could work in small doses.

The concerns are just about Tyrese’s strength. He’s certainly not as strong as Buddy, and there’s a good chance Haliburton would be bullied by larger wings. We saw Haliburton struggle at times last season in one-on-one defense even against other guards. I fully expect that Haliburton will come into camp stronger this year, it’s normal and expected for players to add muscle after they enter the league, I just don’t know if it will be enough.

Can Haliburton play small forward? Maybe, maybe not. But given the Kings roster construction I suspect we’ll find out soon enough.

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HongKongKingsFan
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September 19, 2021 9:01 am

We should not let a ball handler to play SF…….

Just look at T. Evans………from PG to SG to SF……and finally out of the league…

T. Evans is best at PG with his decent ball-handling skill, and size advantage over other smaller PG…….

So, the obvious answer to Tyrese is a big NO !!!!!!!!
(I would rather give Louis King some chances, rather seeing Tyrese play out of his natural position)

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 19, 2021 10:02 am
Reply to  Greg

He was also bigger and stronger than Tyrese might ever be.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 19, 2021 12:10 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It’s an odd comment overall. First, Evans lost is spot in the league because of injuries and drug suspension. Not because he moved to SF. As mentioned, he was pretty effective as a SF. Second, having ballhandlers on the wing and in the frontcourt is kinda the standard NBA cheat code these days. Being stuck in the old school idea that your short guys have to be your ballhandlers is really limiting. Ultimately these days, “ballhandler” is an offensive designation, while “SF” is a defensive designation. Offense is designated primarily by role. Defense is designated primarily by position. Just using PG, SG, SF, PF, C (and almost exclusively categorizing them by relative height) is pretty useless.

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 3:53 pm

I want to reinforce this comment. Offensive lineups are built for what we want to do and defense is based on who we can guard. On offense, makes sense to have best players: Fox, Hali, Buddy ( he has a unique skill) and Mitchell ( he has a different unique skill) but can they guard the opponent? I think this is all situational. Hali cannot guard traditional SF ( the defensive designation) nor can the others but if the opponent substitutes and the reserve is not an offensive threat, then a 3 guard line up has the advantage. That may permit a successful 3 “guard” lineup for 12-20 minutes per game. Barnes can play defense on SF and can play offensive SF but that leaves a hole at the non-Holmes “big” spot.
Kings are a player short. I wish Wright would have been moved for Reddish and not TT.
A “player short” is a player short for balance, not for playoffs.

MaybeNextYear
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September 19, 2021 9:27 am

I think this is a reasonable expectation… eventually. But his lack of strength in year two will severely limit him. In his prime, I imagine he’ll be able to handle the 1-3 no problem, but he’s not ready for that right now.

Kosta
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September 19, 2021 11:40 am
Reply to  MaybeNextYear

Maybe next year…

Kingsguru21
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September 19, 2021 9:31 am

Eh, the only G on the Kings line that I think can really play SF in any way is Buddy Hield. Otherwise you’re just asking for abject failure for a guy like Tyrese to do so.

ZillersCat
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September 19, 2021 3:29 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

This is why we can’t have nice things!

Kingsguru21
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September 19, 2021 5:56 pm
Reply to  ZillersCat

I’m afraid so, ZC.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 19, 2021 9:59 am

Can he play SF? Probably, like in the same way Ricky Rubio “could.”

Should he play SF? No.

It would not be good for his development or for the Kings. If the team really intend to go with a small 3 guard lineup and put Hali on the likes of LBJ and Kawhi the season will be over before Thanksgiving.

In all honesty, with every day that passes, I’m becoming more convinced that the Kings are going to roll out the very same starting 5 that they finished with 2 years ago and started with last year: Fox, Buddy, Barnes, Bagley, and Holmes. Rinse and repeat.

Carl
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September 19, 2021 10:27 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I’ve thought about this a bit, and I’m starting to believe (based on absolutely no evidence) that if there aren’t major roster changes before or during the next offseason, McNair’s job will be in jeopardy. I think Vivek is going to go absolutely nuts looking at the same losing team all season, and if the Kings start out on a 35 win pace or worse, the media response will be very unkind to the team’s lack of activity.

Last edited 1 year ago by Carl
WizsSox
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September 20, 2021 12:43 am
Reply to  Carl

Is this what you believe or hope?

Or both 🙂

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 3:55 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

yes, they will. Except Hali for a pouting Buddy.

jwalker1395
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September 19, 2021 10:09 am

My guess is Tyrese will be an excellent do-it-all SF who glues the entire roster together…..when he’s 28 years old. Guys do get bigger and stronger as they mature, and I expect Tyrese will fill out nicely one day, but I think it’s just simply a long way away. With that said, him or Buddy at the 3 is probably the best we got for this season so let’s toss ’em into the flames!

eddie41
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September 19, 2021 10:11 am

He’s a guard, but in certain matchups, I could see Haliburton guarding the SF. (eg., Harkless guarding the better of the two wings and Haliburton guarding the other.)

Kosta
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September 19, 2021 11:44 am

comment image

1951
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September 20, 2021 8:24 am
Reply to  Kosta

Promising young player available to play:
comment image

Mediocre veteran (Moe … cough … Hark … cough … less … cough) on the roster:
comment image

eddie41
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September 20, 2021 10:46 am
Reply to  1951

Moe is probably the best at defending tall wing initiators than anyone else on the team. Full stop.

1951
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September 20, 2021 10:48 am
Reply to  eddie41

(I know and I stand by my joke based on a larger sample size! 😉 )

eddie41
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September 20, 2021 10:52 am
Reply to  1951

i don’t know how you played basketball, but I normally appreciated when a teammate of mine could guard someone I couldn’t.

1951
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September 20, 2021 11:07 am
Reply to  eddie41

(This is a Luke Walton joke in response to a comment about Luke playing Rese at SF posted on an article about whether Rese can play SF and the larger sample size refers to Luke Walton’s coaching track record and me pointing out the fact that Moe is on the roster but okay. Good for you.

Oh, and not sorry to offend you but Moe is a mediocre veteran if that’s the sticking point.)

Last edited 1 year ago by 1951
eddie41
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September 21, 2021 7:23 am
Reply to  1951

It’s mostly about the faulty logic, where at one point you agree he’s probably the best defender on the roster against tall wing initiators, and then at another point, you call him mediocre in a disrespectful way, having to insert coughs between Hark and less, sort of implying he should not get playing time. While overall, he might be an average nba player, he is an above average defender at the 3 and 4 which we should appreciate. After all, you talk about the value of tall 6’7” versatile defenders in several comments below and point to the success of the Suns with guys like Crowder and Bridges. So I don’t understand why someone would then throw Harkless under the bus, especially where he is not asked to be an offensive initiator. As a fourth or fifth option, he’s fine, especially considering the value he provides on defense, not only for the team overall but also for individuals like Barnes or Haliburton who might be relieved of the most difficult defensive assignment, allowing them to put more energy on offense, not to mention staying out of foul trouble. This is not a Zach Randolph situation. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Last edited 1 year ago by eddie41
murraytant
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September 21, 2021 3:56 pm
Reply to  eddie41

For me, most of the time.

RighteousandHopeful
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September 19, 2021 12:50 pm

It’s all about spacing and matchups, no matter position it might be called. Haliburton needs to be on the floor as much as possible. There’s a lot of talent here. Luke needs to learn the best combinations for all the situations. I am hopeful that he does.

PaulDouglass
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September 19, 2021 1:26 pm

This is my second major question for the season. Would prefer we trade Hield if we can get good value. Fox, Haliburton and Mitchell each playing 32 minutes takes up all the guard time. Otherwise I would wait for a trade later in the season.
My first question – I could not register yesterday – is will Mitchell play well from the beginning.
My third question is whether we can find good trades for Hield and Barley. At the end of this year to keep Bagley, because he was a #2 pick, the Kings would have to offer more than 10 million per year. That is no happening.
My fourth question is whether one of the young or relatively young players like Davis, James, King, Metu, Queta, Ramsey or Woodward can work their way into the rotation. Woodard or Metu would be particularly advantageous.

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 4:01 pm
Reply to  PaulDouglass

4th question: James has worked his way off the roster. Quetta and King are 2 way guys and doubtful to contribute. Woodard has looked awful. Metu will play but seriously needs consistency. Davis will play but he is fighting lots of guys for minutes. Ramsey- Stockton and maybe next year. He did improve though and is young.
3rd question: I doubt Kings find value for either Buddy or “Barley” as you re-named him.
First question- Mitchell will start out well, fade a bit until he adjusts to the adjustments made for his limited offense.

Tunel_21
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September 19, 2021 2:04 pm

To quote the late-great Sandy Lyle:

Can this BASE-jumping, crocodile-wrestling, shark-diving, volcano-luging, bear-fighting, snake-wrangling, motocross-racing bastard play small forward?

And the answer is no, friends.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
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September 19, 2021 4:39 pm

Was it just a coincidence that this question was a “can he play small forward” meme? 😉

SexyNapear
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September 19, 2021 7:06 pm

Well, you can play him wherever you want, but if you expect him to rebound at the small forward position or shut down highly athletic small forwards, it ain’t happening. Bottom line: he needs to be on the court, but there are few lineups where he will shine at small forward.

Roaddog
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September 19, 2021 7:47 pm

NASF

9sac8
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September 19, 2021 9:02 pm

No.

When are we trading for Ben Simmons though?

Mike120
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September 19, 2021 10:33 pm

The fact that we’re even asking the question, sucks. It’s the GMs job to fill that roster spot with qualified players.

1951
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September 20, 2021 8:27 am
Reply to  Mike120

The roster is just so weird right now:

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/SAC/2022.html

Without any changes, it’s going to be a strange season for rotations.

Positionless basketball and all (blah, blah, blah) there may not actually be a single true SF on the roster, with Barnes and Moe being more of 3/4 hybrid dudes in the modern NBA. (Please don’t say Robert Woodard because I mean realistic rotational players! 😉 )

Last edited 1 year ago by 1951
BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 9:00 am
Reply to  1951

It’s funny, because the concept of “positionless basketball” is almost entirely predicated on having a bunch of the exact type of player the Kings don’t have. The entire rest of the league is converging on versatile forwards in the 6’7 range. Meanwhile the Kings are stocking up on Guards and Bigs. I mean, I suppose you might be able to argue there’s a money-ball-esque undervalued assets style strategy in there somewhere. But first you’d have to prove that those assets are, in fact, undervalued relative to their NBA impact.

1951
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September 20, 2021 9:52 am

Zagging for the sake of trend-bucking when the rest of the league is zigging rarely works. Even rarer is it born from creative genius. Most of the time it is just an org doing this:
comment image

Last edited 1 year ago by 1951
1951
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September 20, 2021 9:56 am

Also, I agree. Position-less basketball as a current NBA trend is about amassing a bunch of interchangeable wings (who possess both guard and forward skills) that can transition easily between guard and forwards.

The Kings seem to think it means amassing no wings at all and forcing guards to play as a wing.

Maximus
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September 20, 2021 10:18 am
Reply to  1951

Only the great SFs are worth building around. There is only a handful of them. It is much easier building around guards and bigs. Some of the top teams are basically built around guards and bigs.

Teams like the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets or the Blazers. Their wings are pretty much specialists.

If you mean that we need more of those wing specialists, I agree. But the good ones cost more than MLE which was all that we had.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 10:31 am
Reply to  Maximus

Of course, FA isn’t the only way to acquire talent. And, in the Kings case, is probably the least advantageous way.

Only great anythings are worth building around. And there are only a handful of Great, build-around players available, period. There are at least as many great wings worth building around as there are guards and bigs. But since not every player on the team is going to be a superstar, teams needs non-superstars. And when it comes to non-superstars, those versatile 6’7 guys tend to provide A LOT more flexibility on both ends of the court than the one-position guys at the ends of the size spectrum.

Maximus
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September 20, 2021 1:31 pm

The versatile wings are pretty much lottery draft picks. Would you have taken a wing instead of Hali?

Can we trade any of our players into lottery picks? or trade them for versatile wings?

Can we sign versatile wings for less than MLE?

If there is an available wing, would he be more impactful than any of the guard/big?

BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 5:21 pm
Reply to  Maximus

The versatile wings are pretty much lottery draft picks. Would you have taken a wing instead of Hali?

Interesting wings/forwards that weren’t lottery picks:
2020
Bey (19)
Reed (58)
Nwora (45)
Martin Jr. (52)
McDaniels (28)
Achiuwa (20)
Pokusevski (17)

2019
Thybulle (20)
Mann (48)
Okeke (16)
Keldon Johnson (29)
Windler (26)
Martin (26)
Bazley (23)

Of course, those are just the guys in their first couple seasons showing some ability. But, there’s no reason they have to depend on the draft. The “lottery pick” statement is a canard. As is the idea that they were limited to the MLE as they do have the capacity to make other moves. But even if they aren’t, guys like Bullock, Gay, Craig, and Niang (among others) signed for the MLE or less and having proven useful for good teams. Beyond that a number of wing/forward types have been traded this offseason.

Suggesting the Kings simply don’t have those many of the 6’7ish guys that the league is moving towards because they haven’t had the opportunity simply doesn’t have much merit. They’ve made concerted choices on who to target. It isn’t just circumstance and poor luck that lead them to having a consistent hole at precisely the positional archetype most valued in today’s league. They have chosen to go a different direction.

Maximus
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September 20, 2021 6:51 pm

I am not sure how the 2019 draft has anything to do with McNair.

Bey at pick #19 is interesting. Once again, how would you get that pick? Trading down from #11? Would you be ok trading Hali for Bey?

The other guys are probably missed picks. However, McNair did target Woodard, who is just a project like everyone else in the second round.

I don’t see how this front office is keen on not collecting SFs. The only debatable evidence is drafting Mitchell instead of some other wings.

Nevertheless, successful teams can be built without a bunch of SFs. This team was 12th in OFF RTG. Do they need more SFs to get into top 10? Nope. Just need to shuffle their possessions to be more transition-based.

They do need one defensive wing to improve the defense. Really just need one good back up quality defensive wing. This spot goes to Harkless. Do they need more? Sure. Cheap but quality? Nope. Rather have Davis or King fill these minutes instead of signing another cheap wing.

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 4:06 pm
Reply to  Maximus

No
No/no
No
Yes

1951
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September 20, 2021 10:46 am
Reply to  Maximus

I am not talking about “building around” a star, I am talking about building roster versatility and your examples actually support my point.

The Suns filled out their roster with wings that can switch on defense, including Jae Crowder, Bridges, Torey Craig, Cameron Johnson. They are deep with exactly the guys we are talking about.

The Nuggest have Will Barton, MPJ, Aaron Gordon.

The Blazers always stack up with wings like Covington, Powell, Rodney Hood, Jones Jr.

A lot of wing versatility on all those squads. It doesn’t mean that your best player needs to be a SF.

Last edited 1 year ago by 1951
Maximus
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September 20, 2021 11:59 am
Reply to  1951

The Blazers fill their wings with defensive specialists. But they are still one of the bottom teams defensively. Rodney Hood was done a long time ago. Powell is a 6’3; he is as much a SF as Buddy is. They can replace their wings with bigs, they probably still have the same record.

The Suns are deep at wings but the good ones are from lottery draft picks. Would you have taken a wing instead of Hali? We can’t say much about Mitchell since we have not seen him or any draft pick this year play in an actual game.
Crowder and Craig are not as good as Barnes and Harkless.

Gordon is mostly a PF. He is as much a SF as Hali is. MPJ is a lottery draft pick before McNair time. Barton is not as good Barnes.

The guys you are stating here are not that versatile, not wings, or not as impactful as Barnes/Harkless. If they are good, they are lottery draft picks.

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 4:04 pm

agree. Position less basketball are the teams with 4 ball handling, defensive minded 6/8 players and a PG or.. and a center.
Kings have none of that.

PretendGhost
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September 20, 2021 12:39 am

Really makes me wish that McNair had sold low on Buddy and held on to Bogdanovic

Adamsite
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September 20, 2021 7:54 am
Reply to  PretendGhost

I don’t think you’d have to sell low on Buddy in place of keeping Bogi. McNair could have chosen to retain Bogi as an asset and gone into last season evaluating what he had. At worst he could have had the expiring Snell and two future 2nd rounders. Smart teams don’t let assets walk for nothing. Even and Bulls and Pels got something in return for Lauri and Lonzo when everyone knew they weren’t coming back.

It makes you wonder what the Kings could have done last deadline or this summer if they had Buddy and Bogi under contract. They could potentially BOTH be moved for someone like Simmons. Three solid assets have walked for nothing in the Vivek’s 8 years as owner: Rudy Gay, IT, and Bogi. That kind of management keeps you in late lottery purgatory.

HongKongKingsFan
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September 20, 2021 8:09 am
Reply to  Adamsite

McNair always emphasis the importance of keeping the salary flexibility, and that’s should be why the FO let Bogi go for nothing.

And you are right, maybe we could have gotten Simmons for Bogi, Bagley and Hield, or maybe we already in the play-in or playoff if we retain Bogi…….

I still believe in McNair, at least he tried to keep the consistency of the roster.…and he hit some jackpot at the recent draft…….

Patience is needed………but this coming season is a really big challenge for the FO and the team, and of course, the fans

BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 9:07 am

Patience is definitely needed. That said, this is a probably a good time to point out that building a playoff team doesn’t generally take very long. It’s rare for teams to spend more than a couple seasons outside the playoffs. Even the Nets, after being in arguably the worst position imaginable, only spent 3 seasons outside the playoffs.

Kingsguru21
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September 20, 2021 9:24 am

Even the Nets, after being in arguably the worst position imaginable, only spent 3 seasons outside the playoffs.

In the East, though. I agree, generally, with the point changes are needed.

But the other point Id make w/r/t McNair id he’s only been here a year. Shouldn’t he get at least two offseasons of somewhat normal conditions to work with before we throw him under the bus? I don’t consider the ‘2020 offseason’ to be normal, though.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kingsguru21
BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 10:03 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I’m in no hurry to get rid of McNair. Barring unforeseen disaster and assuming they’re somewhere in the 35-45 win range that I expect, I would absolutely give him another offseason & season after this one. That said, I also absolutely consider the 2020 offseason part of his resume that shouldn’t be left off the count. He didn’t have any more challenges than any other new GM and the 2020 offseason wasn’t actually all that abnormal in terms of player movement and team opportunity. And, of course, the offseason isn’t the only time GMs can make moves.

Kingsguru21
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September 20, 2021 11:29 am

That said, I also absolutely consider the 2020 offseason part of his resume that shouldn’t be left off the count. 

I don’t think it should be. I just don’t think there was any real opportunity to turn over the roster due to the uniqueness of last December as an offseason.

This isnt about giving McNair a pass. It’s more about what’s an appropriate standard to utilize when evaluating whether or not forward progress is being made.

I would absolutely give him another offseason & season after this one. 

That’s where I’m at. A weird truncated and 2 normal-ish offseasons, plus the 2 offseasons, are more than enough to figure out whether McNair can do the job or not.

The opportunities are their even in the West and the Kings just suck at team building and putting themselves in a position to take advantage of said opportunities.

I’ll say this 1951: That was true under Vlade Divac. It remains to be seen whether that’s really true of McNair, too, or cleaning up Divac’s decisions was going to take longer than any of us would like to admit.

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September 20, 2021 12:16 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I disagree that 2020 shouldn’t be held in judgement for McNair. Other rebuilding teams did a whole hell of a lot more than the Kings have done.

The Bulls hired their new GM in 2020 and he has completely revamped that roster, hired Billy Donovan, and has it looking like a playoff team. They finished with 31 wins, just like the Kings but I’d put money on them finished better than Sac this year.

The Suns last offseason made some big moves, including landing Chris Paul and turned that team around quickly going from 34 wins to the NBA Finals

The Knicks hired Thibs and became a playoff team

The Hawks swung big on the likes of Bogi and Gallo, fired their coach mid season and went from 20 wins to the Eastern Conference Finals.

If those struggling teams could lap the Kings in 2020 and other teams could make major changes like trading away superstars like James Harden, replacing coaches like Doc Rivers, then the Kings, and Monte specifically, could have done more. Using the excuse of “2020” is about as valid as a “preseason trip to India” or “super team, just young.”

1951
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September 20, 2021 12:43 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Kings would have been in the play-in game in 2018-19!

That said, I am not writing off Monty yet either, but the team better start showing signs of gaining on the competition soon!

1951
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September 20, 2021 10:06 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

In the East, though. I agree, generally, with the point changes are needed.

While I generally agree with your point that the East is different than the West, I will point out that a Western Conference team with a .500 or below winning percentage has made the playoffs three (3) times since the 2015-16 season. (2015-16 Rockets .500; 2016-17 Blazers .500; and 2019-20 Blazers .473.)

The opportunities are their even in the West and the Kings just suck at team building and putting themselves in a position to take advantage of said opportunities.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 10:15 am
Reply to  1951

For what it’s worth, if you extrapolated the Kings record against the East last season to 72 games, it would have left them with a 31-41 record, tied for 11th in the East, 2 games out 10th. You may recall, their actual finish was 31-41, tied for 11th, 2 games out of 10th.

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 4:14 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Nets? turned it around quickly only to have absence of vaccines derail their “championship season” Irony.

murraytant
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September 21, 2021 4:12 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

The best trade for Bogi was the one that got nixed by Bogi- Divencenso + Ersan + a pick. The trade with Hawks was for Snell ( yikes) and 2 second round picks. Snell would have gummed up the cap for a year, stopped the moves for Davis and Wright all for the sake of two second round picks. Keeping him would have gummed up the cap . Keep and trade this year maybe would have been better, maybe

RikSmits
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September 20, 2021 8:31 am

I love Tyrese, I think his BBIQ will help him to contune to develop as a player in the NBA, but I also believe that we are kind of overhyping his abilities at the moment and may come away disappointed the upcoming season.

I fear that he lacks the strength, the lateral speed and the jumping ability in more static game situations to hang with many SF’s. Situationally he might cope, but that’s about it.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 20, 2021 9:08 am
Reply to  RikSmits

It’s certainly not where you WANT to play him. I mean, ideally he’s a PG where his length, size give him a big advantage and his strength is mitigated.

LLcoolRay
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September 20, 2021 8:56 am

As with just about every season in the last 14 years – our starting SF will be NaSF.

Fun! I love it!

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