By Blake Ellington
Special to The Bee
In the latest installment of "Ask a King," head coach Paul Westphal took questions submitted by fans on The Bee's Kings Corner Facebook page, the Kings blog and the Bleed Black and Purple blog. Below are his answers.
Abdurrahman Kadric via Facebook: What do you think about our draftees, and if you were to pick now, would you pick someone else over DeMarcus Cousins?
We're thrilled with getting DeMarcus last year, and you know, nothing against any other players, but we got the guy we think that'll really be the right player for us this year and well into the future.
Abdurrahman Kadric (continued): Do you think that the draft was weak this year and is there any chance we'll see Hassan Whiteside evolve good enough to play solid minutes in the Kings?
I haven't paid any attention to the draft to tell you the truth; it's really not my focus right now. But Whiteside tweaked his knee the other day in practice and he's out indefinitely, so it's not looking good for him at this moment. But hopefully he'll be well soon and we'll be able to evaluate it depending on whatever the situation is at the time.
Where do you see Whiteside fitting in to the current rotation?
He's still learning; he has a long way to go to learn what you need to do to be successful out on the floor. He's got great shot-blocking instincts, he's been blessed with a really athletic body, he's working on getting stronger, he's just got to learn about the NBA game. He's working hard, but he's not immediately penciled in for major playing time.
Jarrad Hicks via Facebook: After the choke sign incident (involving Cousins on Dec. 21), you mentioned going to a more veteran starting lineup with less experienced players learning like an apprentices. Where does that stand now and with a team not in playoff contention, is it more important to play the younger guys in a more starring role?
We're trying to win every game, we're trying to play the players that will contribute to winning games and we're developing players at the same time. I think you look at the improvement of Omri (Casspi) and DeMarcus; you know Tyreke (Evans) now that he is feeling healthy, how well he is playing. You know, the young guys are improving and earning more playing time, but nobody is given playing time, they earn it.
londonfog via Kings Corner blog: What can be done to stop Cousins from his theatrics on every call that doesn't go his way?
DeMarcus, I think he's getting more and more focused all he time. He's a passionate player and sometimes you can read his thoughts easier than you can read other people's thoughts, but I think he's doing a good job of improving in that area.
What have you said to him about it?
The same thing every coach has ever said to him: "Leave the officials alone and concentrate on the next play."
vonhulland via Kings Corner blog: Why is Evans the one you choose to have the ball late in games?
We don't always do that, but he's certainly a very explosive, creative attacker and he's been very effective when he picks his spots correctly and attacking at the end of the game or throughout the game.
Ken Horn via Facebook: Do you call plays for Carl Landry in crunch time?
Of course. He's a good, clutch player and a lot of times we'll try to play through him.
Ken Horn (continued): It seems too many times that Landry couldn't get the ball in the clutch when the other team couldn't guard him (for example the Golden State game in when (Vladimir) Radmonovic was holding and pushing Landry out of bounds in the fourth quarter).
Plays don't always work, no matter who you call them for, but you know Carl is a good, clutch player and he's delivered a lot of big baskets for us and he probably will a lot more.
Findaway2win via Bleed Black and Purple blog: Have you or anyone else ever shared any of your NBA video highlights with the team (like your late game steal vs. the Celtics in the playoffs or the "H.O.R.S.E" competition)?
(Laughs) No, this is the time for these players, you know, it's not really relevant - any highs or lows the coaches had as players - we're just trying to help these guys have the best highs that they can have."
Findaway2win (continued): I grew up in SoCal and heard that you used to have some serious hops. Is that true, legend, or both?
(Laughs) Well, they did have video tape when I played so I can prove it. Yeah, I could get up above the square. It's hard to believe, I know, but I could really jump high.
mjbeernut via Kings Corner blog: We don't seem to have much movement or get many open looks in our half-court set -- why don't you let these kids run?
Well, I don't agree with that. We love to run as much as we see an opportunity, and I think we have a lot of movement in our half-court set. We have very few isolations and plays where people are supposed to stand in the corner. We try to cut, and move, and swing the ball, and set screens and attack.
AnimalLegend via Kings Corner blog: Why do players' minutes fluctuate so much from night to night? Is a stable rotation impossible with this current roster?
Well, I guess I don't agree with that one either. I think that our rotation is fairly stable; we have been pretty much playing nine guys lately. We had a few injuries, but I don't think anything is ever going to be exactly by the numbers on any team, but I think it's fairly stable.
Ken Horn via Facebook: What would you think of starting Samuel Dalembert at center w/DMC at (power forward) every night?
I don't think that's a bad idea. We did it (against Boston on Tuesday), of course, and we expect to do it against San Antonio (tonight). We'll look at that as a possibility. I think they (Cousins and Dalembert) are both playing much better for various reasons than they were earlier in the year and it's a viable option for us.