30Q | Articles

30Q: Do the Kings have enough forward depth?

Can he play small forward?

Can he play small forward? has been a meme in Sacramento for nearly as long as the Kings playoff drought, and unfortunately for the Kings 2022-23 roster, the answer is likely still “no” for a majority of the squad’s proven contributors. The Sacramento front office has made some moves this summer to try and load the Kings wing and forward core with versatility moving forward, but are these moves enough?

Since that meme originated in the late 00s, the league has become much more positionless; the lines between small forwards, power forwards, and shooting guards have blurred and become more about offensive fit and defensive coverage than traditional sizes. But adding young players who can play at the 3 spot has never been a strength or priority of this Kings organization during the playoff drought. Over the past 15 years, only 3 of the Kings 19 first round draft picks can/could play small forward; Omri Casspi, Justin Jackson, and now Keegan Murray.

Murray will likely play time at both forward positions, and given his offensive versatility and defensive focus, he’ll likely be a huge key to helping Mike Brown fill out his rotation. His shooting ability will, like Harrison Barnes, offer him the ability to pair with pretty much any combination of players on offense. On defense, Keegan isn’t the quickest or most effective stopper against more explosive players—he’s likely more built to handle rangier power forwards than quicker small forwards—but his solid awareness and consistent effort will give him a higher floor than most rookies. And while I and many others wanted Sacramento to draft Jaden Ivey over Murray from a talent standpoint, I’ll say that given Murray’s Summer League dominance, it’s nice to think the Kings may have taken a true step forward to addressing their roster imbalance by snagging Keegan.

As Greg talked about last week, how the 30-year-old Barnes defends against faster perimeter players is going to be worryingly critical for this squad. We know what Barnes can do for this team on offense when he’s engaged—like Murray, his shooting ability and offensive versatility should let him fit with any number of teammates—but defensively is much more of a question. Barnes had an intense rivalry with De’Aaron Fox most of last year to see who could give less of a care on defense. The Kings need much more from their veteran on that end of the court if they are going to make a meaningful run this year.

Kevin Huerter, who might/probably should be the starting off-guard come October, could get some run at the 3 in small-ball lineups. Indeed, our buddy Tim Maxwell is gonna come on here in the coming days and rant about how the analytical numbers signify that Kevin Huerter may be the Kings best option at small forward. At 6’7, he’s got the height and physicality, and certainly has the off-ball shooting ability… but perhaps not the ideal defensive capacity to handle starting-level small forwards. He’s another promising, if imperfect, fit for this team at the 3 spot. Indeed, the same goes for Terence Davis, who Brenden Nunes hypothesized recently could see his minutes in three guard lineups. The Kings guard talent certainly could mean a ton of minutes to go to small-ball lineups.

Deeper down the squad’s depth chart are players who will be using training camp as a shot to fill the Kings’ wing and forward depth. KZ Okpala, Chima Moneke, and Kent Bazemore have reportedly signed partially guaranteed contracts, while rookie Keon Ellis is on a two-way contract. If one of them proves to Mike Brown that they’re ready for a real role (or in Bazemore’s case, can still play a real role), that’ll be fantastic—the Kings haven’t hit on a diamond in the rough at this position in forever—but they aren’t gambles Kings fans should count on quite yet.

The Kings may have more answers this year at the small forward position than in years past, but that isn’t saying a whole lot—and the long-term answer for the position may still not be on the roster. But they have more versatility and lineup options with Murray, Huerter, Barnes, Davis, and hopefully any one of Okpala, Moneke, Bazemore, and Ellis than they did 4 months ago.

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jwalker1395
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September 12, 2022 11:37 am

Rotation quality forwards on team: Murray and Barnes

Rotation quality players that can play the 3 in a pinch: Huerter

Short Answer, no.

If Bazemore and Davis are called on to play extended minutes at the 3 due to any injuries, it’s gonna be bad. We still need at least 1 more legit forward to feel comfortable (Anunoby, Wiggins, Johnson are my preferred targets).

tom4life2001
September 12, 2022 11:40 am
Reply to  jwalker1395

What would you give up for Anunoby? Does his injury history concern you? Rumor was they wanted 2 first rounders (protection levels unknown) for him.

Last edited 20 days ago by tom4life2001
murraytant
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September 12, 2022 3:51 pm
Reply to  Bryant

we could have had him over Justin Jackson.

Sacto_J
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September 12, 2022 1:22 pm
Reply to  tom4life2001

He has potential, for sure. The injury history vs asking price is where the disconnect for me lies.
Dude hasn’t managed a full season in the last 2 and has missed significant time every year except his first. Availability matters. Lakers paid for the idea of AD, now they get the reality.

BestHyperboleEver
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September 12, 2022 8:24 pm
Reply to  Sacto_J

And, of course, he missed half of his last year in college to a major knee injury.

tom4life2001
September 12, 2022 11:39 am

Who is a small forward to target? I am thinking one of the Martin twins from either Charlotte or Miami or Grant Williams if the Celtics decide they don’t want to be pay them (which I doubt.) These both seem unrealistic.

There is a reason the Clippers loaded up on all the wings in the league. Hoarders.

Jack
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September 12, 2022 12:06 pm
Reply to  tom4life2001

Another three wings I like are Vassell, Terance Mann and Max Strus. All young and can play some defense. Oh. One more is Trey Murphy 111.

ManilaBayCleanerCrew
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September 12, 2022 11:00 pm
Reply to  Jack

I think Monte has a chance of getting Strus if Miami really wants to beef up their 3-4 position with Barnes. They probably do it after the All-Star games if Miami’s offense is still bad.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 12, 2022 11:57 am

I’d still like to see one more lengthy 3 and D wing on this roster (heavy on the D). The Kings don’t have that 6’6 -6’9 guy that can can be a plus defender on the roster. Barnes is average in that category but will need help. Maybe that is the hope of KZ or Moneke? What I have found interesting is the number of phots of Moneke I’ve seen in the team facilities and with other players off the court. Perhaps he is someone the Kings feel will stick.

Here’s hoping they find a diamond in the rough with one of their camp invites, because I don’t see any other options outside of a major trade.

Jack
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September 12, 2022 1:53 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Could that trade involve Barnes and OG Anunoby? Also maybe a three way trade with Barnes or Holmes as our front piece. Don’t really know.

Jack
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September 12, 2022 2:11 pm
Reply to  Jack

Also read where we could get Anunoby for Barnes and Holmes for a first two pick swaps and a second pick. Would that work? Seems a lot.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 12, 2022 2:32 pm
Reply to  Jack

I don’t see why the Raptors would give up OG in package for Barnes and Holmes. Toronto would also need to send additional salary to make that work. A contract like Thad Young would work.

Also, the Kings currently don’t have a pick to trade until 2028 thanks to the protections in the Huerter deal.

catterj
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September 12, 2022 3:46 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I just listened to the Dunc’d On podcast season outlook for the Raptors.

On the one hand they could certainly use some shooting. Also, IMO Barnes has been a bad defender the last few seasons, BUT Nurse has a complex and aggressive defensive system. They may believe they can slot Barnes in there, and he will be okay.

On the other hand, they would lose a great defender at the position you want a player to defend best. OG just turned 25 whereas Barnes is 30. OG has three years on his deal, and Barnes has one year (Barnes is extension-eligible though).

Yeah, I think you’d have to give more than Barnes. I’m not sure how much they need a Holmes.

Jack
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September 12, 2022 4:34 pm
Reply to  catterj

I believe the Raptors are very high on Scottie Barnes. If he would start in place of Anunoby then I think there is a possibility he would want to be traded. To answer Adam the trade did include one of the Raptors centers as a salary filler.

RobHessing
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September 12, 2022 12:07 pm
  1. Sign Isaiah Thomas
  2. Place him on Kent Bazemore’s shoulders
  3. Profit
Klam
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September 12, 2022 1:18 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

comment image

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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September 12, 2022 3:55 pm
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comment image

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 12, 2022 12:16 pm

OT: That might be the quickest signing and waiving of a player that I’ve ever seen. Does the dude still get paid?

catterj
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September 12, 2022 3:34 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

He was likely signed with an Exhibit 10 in his contract. That means his salary was completely non-guaranteed, and he gets $0 now. But if he signs with the Stockton Kings and stays with them for 60 days he is eligible for a signing bonus of $5K to $50K. It is probably written as $50K.
Here is the relevant entry at CBA FAQ: link.

Once he scans through these comments, KG21 can confirm or refute what I wrote.

Greg
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September 13, 2022 7:30 am
Reply to  catterj

Steward wasn’t an Exhibit 10. It paid him $50k guaranteed:

It’s basically just paying him to stick around so he’ll come to Stockton unless he gets picked up on a full NBA roster:

catterj
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September 13, 2022 10:21 am
Reply to  Greg

Oh yeah cool they are giving him the benefit of an Exhibit 10 in terms of money and still have his G League rights.

Sacto_J
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September 12, 2022 1:14 pm

Outside of the starters, the strategy seems to be a quantity vs. quality at this point.
Huerter, Murray, Barnes, are at the top of the pecking order with Metu and Lyles as likely prominent role players. My guess is the remainder; Bazemore, Davis (SF…lol,) Moneke & Okpala are rounding out the roster as insurance policies. Or spark plugs, in the case of Bazemore and Davis, I suppose.
Could we do with better quality? Unless you have an all-star forward in the mix the answer is obvious. The roster is definitely improved since last season, tho.
I’m mostly interested to see how Brown utilizes what he has. Lots of people postulating Huerter will be the starting 2, and that may be the case but who really knows anything at this point? Its entirely possible we see a starting lineup of Fox, Monk, Huerter, Barnes and Domas, with Murray the first off the bench. My point is, right now we know absolutely nothing about the rotations. Can November get here, already!?

Jack
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September 12, 2022 4:37 pm
Reply to  Sacto_J

How about Fox, Huerter, Barnes, Murray and Sabonis. Monk as a fiery 6th man.

ManilaBayCleanerCrew
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September 12, 2022 11:04 pm
Reply to  Jack

This is most likely the starting 5 this season with Mitchell, Monk, Ellis, Moneke, Metu, Holmes, Len, Davis and Bazemore as the bench.

Kings-Rebuild
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September 13, 2022 8:37 am
Reply to  Jack

yes, agree.

murraytant
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September 12, 2022 3:49 pm

Forwards- Barnes. Murray. Old guy Bazemore, Young guy Moneke. Wild last try guy- Okpala.
In a pinch Huerter and Davis.

Not a lot there. No real SF. Barnes was but is no longer. Murray cannot guard SF’s.
There are some in new year’s draft.
The Huerter trade tie up makes moving a #1 tough. and the Kings want to keep next year’s #1.
Most trade suggestions involve Barnes but it is tough to trade same position for same position and get better and trading Barnes just does not add depth at all.
Who wants Barnes? rhetorical question–1. a team with high playoff aspirations- willing to take on an ending contract for a last go at the Ring. This sounds like a deadline move. 2. a confident team who wants a vet SF right now,

Toronto and OG- nope. Barnes is wrong body type and OG is better. and Kings picks all tied up

Jack
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September 12, 2022 4:42 pm
Reply to  murraytant

The Orlando Heat has Barnes right up there as a trade. They really want a PF and they are tops at the salary cap. Barnes has an expiring contract. They could play him this year restructure or save money on his contract next year.

Adamsite
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September 12, 2022 6:29 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Moneke isn’t even all that young. He turns 27 Christmas Eve. He’s just been playing internationally the last 5 years.

Rover24
September 13, 2022 10:12 am
Reply to  murraytant

I think that Monte still has the ability to amend the protections on the Huerter pick, turn it into a guaranteed convey in 2025 which opens up more picks they can trade.

Sacto_J
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September 14, 2022 1:53 pm
Reply to  murraytant

I don’t agree with your assessment that Murray cannot guard the 3 at the moment. You may be right but I need an actual sample size. I think he’s quicker than he looks, has great instincts, and that elusive “dog” factor.
We shall see.

fossilizedflatus
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September 12, 2022 5:22 pm

Keon Ellis.

Not sayin’, just sayin’.

eddie41
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September 12, 2022 5:29 pm

Possibly. Okpala and/or Moneke might pan out. If not, some three guard lineups might work. Not too worried about it now because I want to see how all the new pieces fit.

catterj
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September 12, 2022 6:24 pm

The article title just says “forward”, but the article text definitely focused on small forwards. IMO we actually no rotation-quality players whose primary or natural position, at this point in their career, is small forward.

Harrison Barnes can certainly shoot well enough to be a SF. He doesn’t handle the ball as well as an ideal SF, but he does okay. He doesn’t run pick and roll often, but his numbers per the tracking data are good when he does do it. It’s the defense where his primary position becomes PF. While the eye test has me thinking, “well … he’s alright”, the numbers point to him being bad on defense. Your position is what you can defend is the cliche, and many cliches have more than a touch of truth.

Murray is similar. He also seems to be a good movement shooter as well. But I don’t recall seeing him run pick and roll at all in Summer League. But the main thing is the defense. If he is a capable defender of true SF’s, we should engage in much rejoicing. Hopefully, he can. I kinda doubt it.

Huerter has guard skills though I’m not sure he has the creation you would want in a great SF. I just think he is not well-known for being a great defender, and will have trouble with a true SF’s strength whereas Barnes would have trouble with their quickness. But in any event, his primary position is shooting guard. His secondary is probably lead ballhandler/initiator. He may play a lot of SF, but i think that is his third role in the natural order.

Terence Davis is a natural SG.

After them, we get to the guys who may not be rotation quality at any position. Bazemore is really a SG with a massive wingspan. I don’t know enough about Chima Moneke to know what his position is except that he may fill in at SF but he’s a 26 year old rookie that was an MVP but of a league no one here had heard of before we signed him. KZ Okpala may be more of a power forward that can guard SFs, but he couldn’t make it in Miami’s development system.

And that’s about it. It would be swell to have signed one which is tough or traded Barnes or Holmes for one, but that probably won’t happen until we get into the season at this point.

Jack
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September 12, 2022 6:52 pm
Reply to  catterj

I don’t know if you guys know but today there were massive blockbuster trades. One being Chris Paul leaving the Suns. A lot more. I wonder if the Kings would like to get involved?

Jack
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September 13, 2022 6:34 am
Reply to  Jack

Sorry, false alarm.

49taylaners
September 13, 2022 4:46 pm

A B. Simmons for Fox trade would solve this SF quandry and our defensive shortcomings.
starting lineup. Monk,Huerter,Simmons,Murray, Sabonis, Simmons as our point forward.
Would you do it?

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