Sacramento has a problem - a problem most NBA teams would love to have. After only two pre-season g..."/> Sacramento has a problem - a problem most NBA teams would love to have. After only two pre-season g..."/>

Sacramento Kings: Breaking Down the Battle for the Starting Job at Point Guard


October 17, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Aaron Brooks (3) drives in against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-88. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Sacramento has a problem – a problem most NBA teams would love to have. After only two pre-season games, the Kings two potential starting point guards, are showing Coach Keith Smart that they both have incredible upside and both have plenty to contribute to the success of this team.

After being selected last (60th) in the 2012 draft, Isaiah Thomas Earned his starting spot last season after averaging 11.5 points and 4.1 assists per game. He started 37 of the 65 games he played in during his 2011-2012 rookie season. Thomas has to continue to improve on both sides of the court if he hopes to maintain his starting position.

Aaron Brooks, one of several off-season additions; is a more proven starting point guard with very similar career averages – 12.5 points and 3.6 assists per game. Brooks suffered a season ending injury in 2011 after being traded mid-way through the season from Houston to Phoenix.

When the NBA lock-out began in the 2011-2012 season, Brooks made the decision to play overseas (Chinese Professional team: Gaungdong Southern Tigers) while continuing to rehab his ankle. When the lockout ended, he made the decision to finish his season in China. Brooks had averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists during the 2009-2010 season when he lead the Rockets to a playoff berth; and was named the Western Conference Most-Improved Player award. This was his last complete season in one city, making it hard to judge whether Brooks has lost a step, even though most would say the 27 year old point guard is finally starting to play like the 09-10 Most Improved player. He seems to have fully recovered from his ankle injury, and has gained veteran experience that this Sacramento Kings team desperately needs.

The competition between Brooks and Thomas for the starting role presents some intriguing possibilities. Both are very mature guards for their age. They are both very disciplined, driven players; and while both want to start, both players have already acknowledged that they are willing to do what is best for the team (even if that means accepting a role as a bench player). The tremendous upside to this dilemma is; whoever doesn’t start will be one of the most dynamic players of the bench this year, while the starting point guard has a chance to thrive in a healthy starting lineup.

Very few point guards off the bench will be able to match up with either Brooks or Thomas. This immediately makes the Kings a significantly deeper team. Keith Smart has already suggested that he will not have a traditional starting point guard in the sense that no one player will be the established point guard of the team. In only two pre-season games Coach Smart is already mixing and matching his line-ups, finding the best individual and team match-ups game to game.

This is where things truly begin to get interesting. With a team filled with young athletic talent, the Kings give themselves the opportunity to frustrate other teams offense’s and defense’s around the league depending on who starts game to game. While Brooks and Thomas are very similar in size, have similar styles of play, and equal talent, Tyreke Evans has never stopped being a more than capable point guard who can play the 1,2 or 3 position. When the Kings play teams like the Heat or the Lakers, fans shouldn’t be surprised when the Kings go to a bigger starting line-up. With the addition of James Johnson, the Kings will be able to play several different starting lineups.

Coach Keith Smart has a lot to contemplate before the season opener October 31st against a Chicago Bulls team who is ready to redeem themselves from an early playoff exit last year. Coach Smart has already stated that he already knows who his starting lineup will be for the Kings out of town season opener, however he has declined to state who that may be.

So during the final preseason games, Kings fans should pay close attention to both their new point guard as well as their old one to see which one will take the early season starting job, and who must develop into the sixth man the Kings desperately need.