Although Sacramento Kings coach Michael Malone has not publicly announced his starting lineup for opening night, we have to assume that the starters of the final preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers will be the same in the season opener.
Here is what we do know: The team will start DeMarcus Cousins at center and Greivis Vasquez at the point. The shocking thing to most Kings fans is to see that Greivis Vasquez is starting the point guard going into the season opener, when Isaiah Thomas has undoubtedly outplayed Vasquez during preseason.
Vasquez is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery after being traded to Sacramento in the Tyreke Evans sign-and-trade. After leading the league in total assists last season, while averaging nine assists a game, the Kings couldn’t be happier to have a player that has that pass-first mentality, which has not been on this team for the last few years. While Vasquez has the start for the Kings on Wednesday night, Isaiah Thomas is making a strong case that he deserves and should be the one in the starting five.
In the beginning of the offseason it was reported Malone challenged Thomas to be more of a facilitator for the team. As we saw during preseason, Thomas accepted the challenge. Through seven preseason games, Thomas is the team leader with 5.43 assists per game.
Not only did he show he can pass, he showed he can still score. The 5-foot-9 point guard was the second-leading scorer for the Kings right behind the franchise center piece, Cousins. If Thomas can carry his great preseason play to the regular season, he will make it a hard decision for the Kings coaching staff to really commit to one player for the starting point guard spot.
What never gets put into the conversation as a factor in this battle between Thomas and Vasquez is that they are both in contract years.
I expect both players to play at a very high level throughout the entire season. What is great is that at times, both players will be on the court at the same time. Vasquez, at 6-foot-6, has the ability to slide to the 2 spot and play alongside Isaiah, which gives the Kings a quicker lineup with more passing ability. The one thing that fans need to remember about battling for a starting spot is this: Starting doesn’t always matter.
The saying that is best known for this situation between these two guards is “it’s not who starts the game, it’s who finishes the game.”
The Kings take the court Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets.