PORTLAND - Maybe they planned it this way.
Sit Brad Miller and Kevin Martin with relatively-harmless ailments in the first preseason game, thereby opening up minutes for the youngsters and whetting the fanbase's collective appetite early on. Quincy Douby, of course, is not to be included in this conspiracy theory. His ankle injury is legit (and so are the other injuries, for those who have no radar for facetiousness).
The absence of Miller and Martin in Tuesday night's exhibition opener against the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden (7 p.m. tip) means the likes of Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Donte' Greene, and maybe even Kenny Thomas could see substantial time. For a primer, enjoy this clip of the frontcourt of the future battling in today's practice. (Pardon the impromptu conversation that took place while I was filming. Us newspaper types aren't used to thinking like TV folks just yet, so we have random conversations about old friends who were pursued as potential season ticket holders while filming said practice session. Your best bet is to hit the mute button.)...
Personally, my eyes will be set squarely on Bobby Brown. It seems like I can't have a conversation with a player who doesn't eventually sing the praises of the rookie point guard out of Cal State Fullerton. Lest you forget, he's not the typical rookie, considering he has four years of college experience, a year overseas under his belt and the mental motivation of knowing the NBA wouldn't open its doors for him last year. Don't be surprised if he busts his way through this time.
It will also be worth watching the offensive flow with a keen eye, as it has been the major focal point of training camp. The triangle offense that Kings coach Reggie Theus is installing is called "strong" in the Kings' system, and it'll be interesting to see if there is a sense of understanding or confusion emanating from the floor.
Within that context, keep an eye on who holds onto the ball and for how long. While Kings swingman John Salmons has acknowledged his need to pound the ball less this season, he will continue to be given much leeway because of his ability to get to the rim - and finish - so methodically.
What about the defense, you ask? Don't worry about it just yet. But if you must have something to look for on that end, watch Hawes and scream at your television for him to hit the glass. The second-year center needs to rebound in a big way, especially if he expects to take minutes from Miller after the veteran led the team in rebounding last season (9.5 per game) and was 14th in the NBA in that category.
Until Hawes gets minutes for an extended period, we won't know the state of his rebounding skills. For now, consider the rebounds-per-48-minute statistic between the two last season. Miller's mark was 13, while Hawes' was 11.9.
The starting five, as I understand it to be: PG Beno Udrih, SG Francisco Garcia, SF John Salmons, PF Mikki Moore, C Spencer Hawes
* The Oregonian's Joe Freeman breaks down the game from the Blazers' standpoint. - Sam Amick