Projected Sacramento Kings Starting Lineup for 2011-12 Season: Fan’s Take

As the NBA season nears fans, players and team executives are scrambling to prepare for a quick start to the season. Many fans are curious what will happen with their favorite team and what the roster will look like on opening day. Once free agency begins a flurry of moves are likely to be made as teams will have very little time from that date until the start of games. The Sacramento Kings should have their starting five mostly in place.

Assuming that the Kings re-sign guard Marcus Thornton(notes) and don't bring in a major free agent, their projected lineup should be mostly set. They have a likely starting lineup of Tyreke Evans(notes), Marcus Thornton, John Salmons(notes), J.J Hickson, and Demarcus Cousins(notes).

Thornton is the only free agent amongst the group and also the only player whose starting spot is up in the air. I think it's likely that star rookie Jimmer Fredette(notes) will open the season as the sixth man and first player off the bench. This will make the transition to the NBA easier for Jimmer as the expectations won't be quite as high.

I think by the end of the season Fredette will be starting as his play on the court will demand more playing time. Thornton's game also translates very well off the bench. Thornton is a pure scorer and can provide instant offense for the second team. Fredette and his deep three point range will be able to benefit from Tyreke Evans' ability to drive to the hoop and draw defenders to him.

The only variable not accounted for is if Sacramento is lucky enough to land a marquee free agent. Even if a big name player is signed by the team, it's unlikely that they will learn the offense and the system well enough to crack the starting lineup with just a two week training camp. Paul Westphal is the kind of coach who is likely to ease players into his system. Fans should be excited though about Sacramento's projected starting lineup. Evans, Thornton, Salmons, Hickson and Cousins are all great scorers and will make up one of the most exciting offensive teams in the NBA this year. If Westphal can get the team to play good defense, Sacramento could surprise people this year.

Kyle Rapoza is a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and a lifelong fan of the Sacramento Kings. He started going to Kings games at age six and has attended hundreds of games since. Follow him on twitter @kyler11.

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Updated Monday, Dec 5, 2011