1980-81 Kansas City Kings Games Played/Started & Transact's

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1980-81 Kansas City Kings Games Played/Started & Transact's

Postby MCT » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:52 pm

This is the sixteenth of a planned series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

KANSAS CITY KINGS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Kings had a 40-42 record. They finished in a tie with the Rockets for the second-best record in the Midwest Division (a distant 12 games behind the first-place Spurs). The two teams were tied for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference, but under tiebreaker rules the Kings won the #5 seed in the playoffs.

In the First Round, the Kings defeated the Blazers 2-1, and in the Conference Semifinals, they defeated the Suns 4-3. They then lost to the Rockets 4-1 in the Conference Finals. The Kings played a total of 15 playoff games.

The Kings used 14 different players for the season, three above the minimum. One additional player was also on the team’s roster during the regular season, but only on the injured list (not the active roster), and did not appear in any games.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

*Mel Bennett
Otis Birdsong
Leon Douglas
Phil Ford
Gus Gerard
Ernie Grunfeld
Reggie King
Sam Lacey
Joe Meriweather
Scott Wedman
Jo Jo White
Charles “Hawkeye” Whitney

*placed on injured list 10/8/80

Note: during the 1980 offseason, Tom Burleson, formerly of the Kings, had signed with the Hawks as a Veteran Free Agent. As of the start of the 1980-81 regular season, compensation for Burleson had not yet been settled.

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

10/22/80 – Waived Mel Bennett.

11/3/80 – Announced the retirement of Jo Jo White; received a 1981 2nd round pick and cash from the Hawks as compensation for the Hawks’ earlier signing of Tom Burleson as a Veteran Free Agent.

11/8/80 – Signed Lloyd Walton as a free agent.

12/26/80 – Waived Gus Gerard; signed John Lambert as a free agent.

1/20/81 – Placed Charles “Hawkeye” Whitney on the injured list; signed Frankie Sanders to a 10-day contract.

2/2/81 – Signed Frankie Sanders to a second 10-day contract.

2/12/81 – Signed Frankie Sanders to a contract for the remainder of the season.

Note: the Kings finished the season with 12 players on their roster. Charles “Hawkeye” Whitney appears to have been on the injured list as of the end of the regular season, and remained inactive for the playoffs.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

Jo Jo White:

White announced his retirement on 11/3/80. This was reported in the transaction column in the following day’s Globe, and is also in numerous other newspapers in the Google News Archive. pst.com also has it, likely sourced from a newspaper. It isn’t in the NBA Register, which may lead the reader to believe that White was with the Kings all season. The explanation is that the Register didn’t typically report player retirements, although I can think of a few exceptions. Why didn’t the Register typically report player retirements? It may be because, from a transaction standpoint, exactly what happens when a player announces his retirement is a bit mysterious. The NBA has something called the voluntarily retired list, but movement of players on and off of this list isn’t typically publicly reported, and not every player who retires is necessarily placed on it. Based on public reports, all we can say about White is that he announced his retirement on 11/3/80. The Kings filled the roster spot by signing Lloyd Walton on 11/8/80.

Tom Burleson:

According to the transaction column in the following day’s Globe, the compensation award for Burleson was made by the Commissioner’s office – the two teams apparently couldn’t reach an agreement between themselves – and the amount of cash involved was $50,000. A number of newspaper reports in the Google News Archive, as well as the Kings Media Guide, state the same. pst.com also agrees that the amount of cash was $50,000 (likely sourced from a newspaper).

b-r.com’s write-up of this transaction differs materially from other sources in two ways, not mentioning that cash was included, and showing the date as 7/8/80 (which is the date Burleson originally signed with the Hawks). Based on other sources, it seems pretty clear that omitting the cash is an oversight, and that an incorrect assumption was made that compensation changed hands on the same date as the signing.

Gus Gerard:

The NBA Register shows the date Gerard was waived as 12/29/80. This is a bit odd, as Gerard’s place on the roster appears to have been taken by John Lambert. But Lambert was signed three days earlier on 12/26, and made his Kings debut on the same day he signed. Gerard’s waiving appeared in the Globe transaction column on 12/27, suggesting that it in fact happened on 12/26/80, on the same day Lambert was signed. A number of newspaper reports in the Google News Archive indicate the same. The Kings Media Guide and pst.com also have the date as 12/26/80.

It seems pretty clear that 12/26/80 is the correct date. The 12/29 date in the Register is either a typo, or yet another example of the Register dating a player’s waiving to a few days after the player was placed on waivers, possibly reflecting the date the player cleared waivers instead (see Dick Miller and the Pacers; Tony Jackson and the Lakers; Roy Hamilton and the Blazers; Gerard differs from those examples in that we have news reports documenting what date he was actually placed on waivers). b-r.com shows the 12/29 date as well, likely using the Register as its source.

Frankie Sanders & Hawkeye Whitney:

On 1/20/81, the Kings signed Frankie Sanders to a 10-day contract. This transaction was actually reported in a number of newspapers on 1/20, which at first glance suggests a 1/19 date. It is in the transaction column of the 1/20 Globe, and is reported in three additional 1/20 newspapers in the Google News Archive, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, the Sarasota (Fla.) Journal, and the Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Journal Bulletin. This seemingly contradicts the 1/20 date shown in the NBA Register, Kings Media Guide, and pst.com. The article in the 1/20 Times has the explanation for this discrepancy, reporting that Sanders had been signed to a 10-day contract “starting this morning” [presumably the day of the paper, 1/20]. It appears that the Kings publicly announced Sanders’ signing on 1/19, which is how it got into some 1/20 newspapers, but his contract was actually effective on 1/20. A peek at the schedule explains why the Kings wanted the contract to be effective on 1/20 rather than 1/19. At the front end, the Kings didn’t play on 1/19, but they did on 1/20. At the back end, a contract effective on 1/20 would run through 1/29, the date of the Kings’ last game before the All-Star break, while a contract signed on 1/19 would not cover that game.

While I can find no documentation of it, Sanders must have signed a second 10-day deal with the Kings, because he continues to appear in box scores beyond the point where the first 10-day deal would have expired. Since the Kings played no games on 1/30, 1/31, 2/1 and 2/2 due to the All-Star break, and since Sanders is reported to have signed for the remainder of the season on 2/12 (see the next paragraph), I have gone with 2/2/81 as the most likely date for the second 10-day contract.

The Kings Media Guide and pst.com report that Sanders signed a contract for the remainder of the season on 2/12/81 (pst.com may have used the Kings Media Guide as its source). b-r.com also reports Sanders signing with the Kings on this date, but doesn’t specify it as for the remainder of the season, implying that it was a regular free agent signing. This is actually the only transaction involving Sanders’ stay with the Kings that appears in b-r.com at all; b-r.com doesn’t have Sanders’ initial signing on 1/20.

The NBA Register simply shows Sanders signing outright with the Kings on 1/20/81, with no mention of it being a 10-day deal or of any subsequent contracts. As we’ve discussed in previous installments in this series, the Register typically wrote things up that way whenever a player who initially joined a team on a 10-day deal stuck around for longer than that, and shouldn’t be read as inconsistent with what other sources show.

The Kings must have placed someone on the injured list on or shortly before the date they signed Sanders to his first 10-day contract. While I have no documentation of such a transaction, by all appearances the player in question was Charles “Hawkeye” Whitney. The three Google News Archive articles covering Sanders’ initial signing with the Kings all state that Whitney had suffered a knee injury in a game against the Bucks on 1/16; Whitney did not appear in any further games after that date. The articles do not explicitly state that Whitney was being placed on the IL, but they indicate that he was out for the season, and make it clear that Sanders was being signed to replace him.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

As far as I can see, the 2012-13 Kings Media Guide has no historical games started information whatsoever. So for the 1980-81 Kings, we will need to rely solely on the TSN box scores.

TSN BOX SCORES

All but two of the TSN regular season box scores for the 1980-81 Kings appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The two exceptions were games on 10/25/80 and 12/5/80.

The first five players listed in the box score for the 10/25 game are Wedman, Douglas, Whitney, Meriweather and White. The first two would make sense as starting forwards, but the three remaining players wouldn’t make much sense. Two of the three (Whitney and Meriweather) would be out of position, and two of the three (Whitney and White) are not shown starting any other game in the TSN box scores. It would be odd if they started this game, as there is no obvious reason why they would have started rather than other players who more commonly started.

The first five players listed in the box score for the 12/5 game are Birdsong, Wedman, King, Lacey and Gerard. Ford is sixth. The first five players are clearly not in F-F-C-G-G order. They do appear in descending order of points scored in relation to each other. This isn’t true of the remaining players, however, in relation to either the first five players or to each other. The first five players could be the starters, listed in descending order of points. From that perspective, the first four players make sense, but it would be very odd if Gerard started this game rather than Ford. Gerard is not shown starting any other game in the TSN box scores, and there is no obvious reason why he would have started this one in place of Ford.

Let’s look at this from a different angle, and try to work out who we would have expected to start these games. For the rest of the Kings’ games, the TSN box scores show Scott Wedman and Phil Ford starting every game they played in. Otis Birdsong is shown starting all but four of the games he played in, with those four games all following stretches of games he missed, and none occurring before late January (as of both the 10/25 and 12/5 games, Birdsong was yet to miss a game). Based on that, I think it is reasonable to assume that these three players started on both 10/25 and 12/5.

The other two starting slots were occupied for most of the season by Reggie King and Sam Lacey. All of the games the TSN box scores show King not starting were within the first 14 games of the season, and all of the games the TSN box scores show Lacey not starting were within the first 23 games of the season. Based on that, I think it is reasonable to assume that these two players started the game on 12/5, which was the Kings’ 29th game of the season.

Who started in those two slots on 10/25 is trickier. The TSN box scores show Lacey starting the first two games of the season at center, then apparently getting benched for a time, beginning with the game on 10/14. When Lacey went to the bench, he was replaced in the starting lineup by Leon Douglas. Meanwhile, the TSN box scores show King starting the first six games of the season at power forward. He was then absent from one game (10/21), and is shown coming off the bench in the next game (10/23). The game on 10/25 is the game immediately following that. When King didn’t play on 10/21, he was replaced in the starting lineup by Joe Meriweather. The 10/23 TSN box score has Douglas and Meriweather switching positions, with Meriweather shown starting at center and Douglas at power forward. The box score for the game after 10/25 (10/28) has King back in the starting lineup, and Douglas back at center.

So what does this mean for the game on 10/25? Based on who started the surrounding games, I think that Douglas probably started, and Lacey probably came off the bench. The tougher question is whether King returned to the starting lineup on 10/25, or not until 10/28. If he didn’t on 10/25, Meriweather probably started in his place, but that leaves open the matter of which positions Douglas and Meriweather started at, in terms of C versus PF.

Any answers to these questions will largely be just a guess on my part. To the extent that there is any significance to the order of the names in the box score, I’ll note that Douglas is listed second (which would be a starting forward position), while Meriweather is listed later on among the first five (though not in the slot that would correspond to the starting center). Taking that as the best clue available, I am going to assume that on 10/25 Douglas started at power forward and Meriweather started at center, the same as the previous game on 10/23.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

From the TSN box scores, after making the assumptions discussed above, I am getting the following games started totals for the season:

Wedman 81
King 78
Birdsong 67
Ford 66
Lacey 66
Grunfeld 27
Douglas 11
Meriweather 10
Walton 4

As with the other teams for which we have no media guide numbers, I’m pretty confident that the games started numbers I’m coming up with are at least good estimates, but it would always be better to have a media guide to square up with. Are my assumptions as to who started on 10/25 and 12/5 correct? Without media guide numbers to compare to, it’s hard to hold my games started numbers out as exact.

PLAYOFFS

As far as I can see, the Kings Media Guide does not have games started stats for the playoffs.

The Kings have a playoff game whose TSN box score doesn’t appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. Aside from that game, lacking any better information, I am assuming that the TSN box scores accurately reflect the starters. Lacey, King, Wedman and Grunfeld are shown starting every game, as would be expected. Wedman is shown starting a number of games at guard, which is not expected, but is plausible in light of the Kings appearing to have multiple injured players in the backcourt. Other players shown starting a few games at guard, or at forward (during the period Wedman was shifted to starting at guard) are similarly plausible if not necessarily expected, taking into account the personnel who were available.

The game whose TSN box score doesn’t appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order was on 4/12/81, Game 4 of the series against Phoenix. The first five names in the box score are Douglas, King, Wedman, Grunfeld and Meriweather. The first four names look like the expected starters at forward and guard (the TSN box scores indicate that Douglas filled in as starting forward during the period when Wedman was starting at guard), with center omitted. Douglas and King were the starting forward combo in the previous two games, and would be the starting forward combo in the next two games. Meanwhile, Wedman and Grunfeld were the starting guard combo in the previous two games, and would be the starting guard combo in the next three games. It seems reasonable to assume that these four players were the starters at forward and guard on 4/12.

So who started at center on 4/12? It could have been Meriweather, if there is any significance to his appearing fifth in the box score. On the other hand, Sam Lacey is shown starting every other playoff game at center, and there is no obvious reason why he wouldn’t have started this one. The TSN box scores also do not show Meriweather starting any other playoff games. Picking either player is just a guess on my part, but I’m going to go with Lacey.

From the TSN box scores, after making the assumptions discussed above, I am getting the following games started totals for the playoffs:

Grunfeld 15
King 15
Lacey 15
Wedman 15
Birdsong 5
Douglas 5
Ford 4
Lambert 1
Last edited by MCT on Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:06 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Kansas City Kings Games Played/Started & Transac

Postby MCT » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:59 pm

KANSAS CITY KINGS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February, before Phil Ford went out with an injury.

OTIS BIRDSONG

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1977.

Games Played (Regular Season 71 G, 36.5 MPG; Playoffs 8 G, 29.3 MPG): The 11 regular season games in which Birdsong did not appear were four consecutive games from 12/30/80 through 1/8/81, five consecutive games from 1/16/81 through 1/23/81, and two consecutive games on 2/3/81 & 2/4/81 (first two games after the All-Star break). I assume that these absences were due to injury.

Birdsong was apparently dogged by injuries once again during the playoffs, as he played in only 8 of the Kings’ 15 postseason games. He appeared in the Kings’ first four playoff games – all three games of the Portland series, and Game 1 of the Phoenix series – then was absent from most of the rest of the Phoenix series, returning to play in Game 7. He was then absent from the first two games of the Houston series before returning for Games 3, 4 & 5 (the Kings’ final three playoff games).

Games Started (Regular Season: 67; Playoffs: 5): There are four regular season games which the TSN box scores show Birdsong playing in but not starting. These were two consecutive games on 1/23/81 & 1/27/81 (immediately following the five games in January in which Birdsong did not play, and immediately preceding the All-Star break), and two consecutive games on 2/6/81 & 2/8/81 (immediately following the two games just after the All-Star break in which Birdsong did not play). Note that, between games he didn’t play in and games he played in but didn’t start, Birdsong was absent from the starting lineup for 11 consecutive games from 1/16 to 2/8.

Birdsong started the Kings’ first four playoff games (all three games of the Portland series, and Game 1 of the Phoenix series) before he apparently got injured. When he returned later in the postseason, he would only make one additional start, which was in Game 4 of the Houston series (the Kings’ second-to-last playoff game).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

SCOTT WEDMAN

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1974.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 35.8 MPG; Playoffs 15 G, 43.8 MPG): The only game in which Wedman did not appear was on 1/2/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 81; Playoffs: 15): Based on the TSN box scores and the assumptions discussed earlier, Wedman started every game he played in. All of Wedman’s regular season starts and 9 of his 15 playoff starts were at forward, but he was shifted to guard for the last six games of the Phoenix series (Games 2 through 7). Regular starting guards Otis Birdsong and Phil Ford were unavailable, and the Kings’ coaching staff must have felt that Wedman was the best available option at SG. When Ford returned for the Houston series, Wedman switched back to forward.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

PHIL FORD

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 66 G, 34.7 MPG; Playoffs 5 G, 31.6 MPG): Ford played in the first 66 games of the season (through 2/22/81), then did not play in any further regular season games. According to several newspaper reports in the Google News Archive, Ford suffered an eye injury in the game on 2/22 as the result of a collision with the Warriors’ Lloyd Free (Free was also injured in the incident, and also missed time as a result). As far as I can tell, though, he was never placed on the IL. The Kings simply played shorthanded for the remainder of the regular season. Ford also did not play in the first two rounds of the playoffs against Portland and Phoenix. He returned to play in all five games of the series against Houston (which were the Kings’ last five playoff games). Ford was out of action for nearly two months between his final regular season game, on 2/22, and his first playoff appearance in Game 1 of the Houston series, on 4/21.

Games Started (Regular Season: 66; Playoffs: 4): Based on the TSN box scores and the assumptions discussed earlier, Ford started every regular season game he played in, and all but one of the playoff games he appeared in (which were the five games of the Houston series). The playoff game he didn’t start was Game 4 of the Houston series, when Otis Birdsong took his place. Birdsong appears to have gotten injured earlier in the playoffs. Like Ford, he had recently returned to action, but had not gone back into the starting lineup. For some reason, Birdsong started that one game in Ford’s place, then Ford returned to starting duty for Game 5, which turned out to be the Kings’ last playoff game.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

REGGIE KING

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 33.9 MPG; Playoffs 15 G, 41.3 MPG): The only game in which King did not appear was on 10/21/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 78; Playoffs: 15): Based on the TSN box scores and the assumptions discussed earlier, there were three games King played in but did not start. These were two consecutive games on 10/23/80 & 10/25/80 (immediately following the game King didn’t play in on 10/21), and one additional game on 11/4/80. Why King wouldn’t have started on 11/4/80 is not apparent to me, but the TSN box score shows Joe Meriweather starting at power forward instead.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for first two seasons of career, including 1980-81, then as SF for remaining four seasons (1981-82 through 1984-85).

SAM LACEY

History: 1st round pick of Royals in 1970.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 27.2 MPG; Playoffs 15 G, 35.5 MPG): Lacey appeared in every game the Kings played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 66; Playoffs: 15): Based on the TSN box scores and the assumptions discussed earlier, there were 16 games Lacey did not start. All of these were in the first 23 games of the season. It appears to me that there was some indecision over who to start at center during the first quarter of the season, before the Kings coaching staff finally settled on Lacey. Lacey started the first two games of the season; went to the bench for nine consecutive games (10/14/80 through 10/29/80), with Leon Douglas replacing him in the starting lineup; returned to the starting lineup for one game; went to the bench behind Douglas again for one game (11/1/80); started the next four games; then went to the bench for six consecutive games (11/11/80 through 11/21/80), with Joe Meriweather starting at center this time. Lacey then reclaimed the starting job and held it down for the rest of the season.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JOE MERIWEATHER

History: 1st round pick of Rockets in 1975. Acquired in trade with Knicks, September 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 74 G, 20.5 MPG; Playoffs 10 G, 19.9 MPG): The eight regular season games in which Meriweather did not appear were on 11/8/80, 12/13/80, 12/28/80, 2/6/81, three consecutive games from 2/20/81 through 2/2/81, and 3/25/81. Meriweather is also absent from the TSN box score for the game on 10/11/80 (opening night), but b-r.com’s sortable box score and game log feature indicate that Meriweather played in that game. An examination of the TSN box scores reveals that the totals for the Kings players listed in the box score are short of the team totals shown. b-r.com resolves these discrepancies by listing two players who are absent from the TSN box score (Meriweather and Leon Douglas). Either Dick Pfander or b-r.com must have noticed these discrepancies and determined that Meriweather and Douglas actually played in this game.

In the playoffs, Meriweather appeared in 10 of the Kings’ 15 playoff games. He played in the first nine (all three games of the Portland series, and the first six games of the 7-game Phoenix series), then did not play again until Game 5 of the Houston series (the Kings’ final playoff game). I am assuming that Meriweather’s absence from that five-game stretch was due to injury.

Games Started (Regular Season: 10; Playoffs: 0): Based on the TSN box scores and the assumptions discussed earlier, Meriweather made 10 starts during the regular season. All were during the first 23 games of the season. These were three consecutive games between 10/21/80 through 10/25/80, a single game on 11/4/80, and six consecutive games from 11/11/80 through 11/21/80. Eight of these starts were at forward, two at center.

Meriweather started at power forward on 10/21 in place of Reggie King, who did not play in that game, and continued to start for the next two games before King returned to the starting lineup. For those two games, however, Meriweather switched places with Leon Douglas, moving to center while Douglas moved to power forward. When King returned to the starting lineup for the next game, Douglas moved back to center and Meriweather returned to the bench. Meriweather’s start on 11/4 was also in place of King, although it isn’t clear to me why, as King did play in this game. The TSN box score shows Meriweather starting at forward (by this time Sam Lacey had replaced Douglas as the starting center). Meriweather’s last six starts were at center, as the Kings’ coaching staff apparently remained unsettled as to who to start at that position. After those six games, Lacey took over again, and Meriweather went back to the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career, including 1980-81, except for one (1979-80, which is shown as PF).

ERNIE GRUNFELD

History: 1st round pick of Bucks in 1977. Acquired in trade with Bucks, October 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 79 G, 20.1 MPG; Playoffs 15 G, 42.2 MPG): Grunfeld is credited with appearing in 79 regular season games, but I only noted him in 78 TSN box scores. The four box scores from which Grunfeld is absent are on 11/8/80, two consecutive games on 12/20/80 & 12/23/80, and 12/28/80. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Grunfeld in only 78 box scores. One possibility is that Grunfeld was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score.

Another possibility is that the player identified as “Gerard” in the 11/8/80 TSN box score is not Gus Gerard, but is actually Ernie Grunfeld. Gerard appears in 17 TSN box scores, but is only credited with playing in 16 games for the Kings. If the player in the 11/8 box score is really Grunfeld, that would resolve the games played discrepancies for both players. (Note that Gerard does not appear in the other three box scores from which Grunfeld is absent – Gerard was actually no longer with the Kings at the time the last game in this group was played – so if there is an issue involving these two players, the 11/8 box score has to be the source of it.)

Games Started (Regular Season: 27; Playoffs: 15): Grunfeld started four consecutive games from 12/30/80 through 1/8/81; 11 consecutive games from 1/16/81 through 2/8/81; 12 of the last 13 games of the regular season (started on 3/4; came off bench on 3/5; started every game from 3/8 on); and all 15 of the Kings’ playoff games. The first two groups of games came during periods when regular starting SG Otis Birdsong was apparently struggling with injuries (Birdsong did not play in most of these games). Grunfeld’s return to the starting lineup in March came after regular starting PG Phil Ford had gone out with an injury. In the playoffs, Ford also missed the Portland and Phoenix series, so Grunfeld continued to start. Ford returned for the Houston series, but by that time Birdsong was apparently battling injuries again, so Grunfeld remained in the starting lineup.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for most seasons of career, including 1980-81, but is SG for three of his nine seasons (1977-78, 1981-82, and 1983-84; note that even though Grunfeld’s position in the old header is listed as “Guard-Forward”, his primary position for the majority of his individual seasons is shown as SF.) Contrary to what b-r.com shows, I believe that Grunfeld played much more heavily this year at SG than at SF, though he likely saw significant time at both positions.

LEON DOUGLAS

History: 1st round pick of Pistons in 1976. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, June 1980 (compensation owed to Pistons).

Games Played (Regular Season 79 G, 17.2 MPG; Playoffs 15 G, 21.2 MPG): The three games in which Douglas did not appear were two consecutive games on 11/5/80 & 11/7/80, and one additional game on 3/18/81. Douglas is also absent from the TSN box score for the game on 10/11/80 (opening night), but b-r.com’s sortable box score and game log feature indicate that Douglas played in that game. An examination of the TSN box scores reveals that the totals for the Kings players listed in the box score are short of the team totals shown. b-r.com resolves these discrepancies by listing two players who are absent from the TSN box score (Douglas and Joe Meriweather). Either Dick Pfander or b-r.com must have noticed these discrepancies and determined that Douglas and Meriweather actually played in this game.

Games Started (Regular Season: 11; Playoffs: 5): Based on the TSN box scores and the assumptions discussed earlier, Douglas made 11 starts during the regular season. All but one were during the first 13 games of the season. Eight of these starts were at center, three at forward. After Sam Lacey had started the first two games of the season at center, Douglas replaced him for the next nine games (10/14/80 through 10/29/80). During this period, Joe Meriweather started three games in place of regular starting power forward Reggie King, and for the final two, Meriweather and Douglas swapped places, with Douglas starting at forward (these were the games on 10/23 and 10/25). For the next game, King returned, Douglas moved back to center, and Meriweather went back to the bench. When the nine-game stretch ended, Lacey returned to the starting lineup for one game, then Douglas for one more game (11/1/80), before Lacey took over again. Douglas’ one remaining regular season start was on 1/2/81, at forward in place of Scott Wedman, who did not play in that game. In the playoffs, Douglas started Games 2 through 6 of the Phoenix series at forward. These games came during a period when Wedman had been switched to starting at guard due to injuries in the backcourt.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

LLOYD WALTON

History: 3rd round pick of Bucks in 1976. Signed as a free agent, November 1980.

Walton did not start the season with the Kings. He was signed on 11/8/80, filling the roster spot vacated by the retirement of Jo Jo White.

Games Played (Regular Season 61 G, 13.5 MPG; Playoffs 8 G, 9.1 MPG): Walton made his debut with the Kings on the day he signed with them. At that point, the Kings had 66 regular season games remaining, and Walton played in all but five of them. The five games in which he did not appear were three games in a four-game stretch from 1/20/81 through 1/27/81 (did not play on 1/20; played on 1/21; did not play on 1/23 & 1/27) and two consecutive games on 2/8/81 & 2/10/81.

In the playoffs, Walton appeared in 8 of the Kings’ 15 playoff games. He played in all three games of the Portland series; Games 1, 2, 3 & 5 of the Phoenix series; and Game 1 of the Houston series. Walton may have gotten injured during the playoffs. I would have expected him to play more, especially as the Kings appear to have been shorthanded due to injuries to other players, including both of their regular starting guards.

Games Started (Regular Season: 4; Playoffs: 0): The four games Walton started were all in late February and early March, in the wake of regular starter Phil Ford’s disappearance from the lineup due to an eye injury. Walton started four of the first five games after Ford dropped out of the lineup (started on 2/26, 2/28 & 3/3; came off the bench on 3/4 while Ernie Grunfeld started; started on 3/5). After that, while Ford remained out, the Kings went with Grunfeld as the starter.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

JOHN LAMBERT

History: 1st round pick of Cavaliers in 1975. Signed as a free agent, December 1980.

Lambert started the season with the Cavaliers, but was released in December. The Kings signed him on 12/26/80, waiving Gus Gerard to make room on their roster.

Games Played (Regular Season 43 G, 11.0 MPG; Playoffs 15 G, 11.7 MPG): Lambert made his debut with the Kings on the day he signed with them. At that point, the Kings had 45 regular season games remaining, and Lambert played in all but two of them. The two games in which he did not appear were on 1/14/81 and 2/18/81. Including the 3 games he had played for the Cavaliers earlier in the season, Lambert appeared in 46 NBA regular season games this year. Lambert also appeared in all 15 of the Kings’ playoff games.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 1): The only game the TSN box scores show Lambert starting was Game 7 of the playoff series against Phoenix (4/19/81), at forward. This was the final game of the six-game stretch in which regular starting forward Scott Wedman had been switched to starting at guard, due to injuries in the backcourt. Leon Douglas had filled in at forward in the previous five games, but the TSN boxes show Lambert starting this game. Phil Ford returned for the Houston series, allowing Wedman to move back to forward, ending the need for someone else to start at forward in his place.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career. Note that even though Lambert’s position in the header is listed as “Center-Forward”, his primary position for each individual season of his career is shown as PF.

FRANKIE SANDERS

History: 1st round pick of Spurs in 1978. Signed to a 10-day contract, January 1980.

Sanders did not start the season with the Kings. He had been with the team in the preseason, but was waived in training camp and did not start the 1980-81 season on an NBA roster. Sanders was signed to a 10-day contract on 1/20/81, to fill in for the injured Hawkeye Whitney. As Whitney missed the remainder of the season, Sanders was signed to a second 10-day contract, then to a contract for the remainder of the season.

Games Played (Regular Season 23 G, 8.1 MPG; Playoffs 9 G, 5.6 MPG): Sanders is credited with appearing in 23 regular season games, but I only noted him in 22 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Sanders in only 22 box scores. It is possible that Sanders was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. Sanders appears in seven consecutive TSN box scores starting on the date of his initial signing, and in the TSN box scores for the last seven games of the regular season, but he is in the TSN box scores for only 8 of the 19 games in between.

In the playoffs, Sanders appeared in 9 of the Kings’ 15 playoff games. He played in Games 1 & 3 of the Portland series; Games 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6 of the Portland series; and Games 1 & 5 of the Houston series.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Sanders starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

INJURED LIST:

CHARLES “HAWKEYE” WHITNEY

History: 1st round pick of Kings in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 47 G, 16.6 MPG): Whitney played in 47 of the Kings’ first 48 games (through 1/16/81). The only game prior to 1/16 in which Whitney did not play was on 12/10/80. Whitney missed the rest of the season as a result of a knee injury suffered in the game on 1/16. He was apparently placed on the IL when Frankie Sanders was signed on 1/20 and spent the rest of the season there, remaining inactive for the playoffs.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Whitney starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

GUS GERARD

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1974. Signed as a free agent, October 1978.

Gerard started the season with the Kings, but was waived on 12/26/80. The Kings filled his roster spot by signing John Lambert.

Games Played (Regular Season 16 G, 7.7 MPG): Gerard is credited with appearing in 16 regular season games, but I noted him in 17 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Gerard in 17 box scores. This is the first time I’ve encountered a player with more appearances in the TSN box scores than he is credited with having played. A possible explanation for this discrepancy: the player identified as “Gerard” in the 11/8/80 TSN box score could actually be Ernie Grunfeld. Grunfeld appears in 78 regular season TSN box scores, but is credited with playing in 79 regular season games for the Kings. If the player in the 11/8 box score is really Grunfeld, that would resolve the games played discrepancies for both players. (Note that Gerard does not appear in the other three box scores from which Grunfeld is absent – Gerard was actually no longer with the Kings at the time the last game in this group was played – so if there is an issue involving these two players, the 11/8 box score has to be the source of it.)

At the time Gerard was waived, the Kings had played 37 games. Gerard had appeared in less than half of them. His final appearance with the Kings was on 12/10/80, more than two weeks before he was waived. Later in the season, Gerard was picked up by the Spurs for a time. Including the 11 games he played for the Spurs, Gerard is credited with a total of 27 games played for the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show Gerard starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

JO JO WHITE

History: 1st round pick of Celtics in 1969. Acquired in trade with Warriors, September 1980.

White started the season with the Kings, but he announced his retirement on 11/3/80.

Games Played (Regular Season 13 G, 18.2 MPG): At the point White retired, the Kings had played 13 games, and White had played in all of them. His final appearance was on 11/1/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): The TSN box scores do not show White starting any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

MEL BENNETT

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1975. Signed as a free agent, September 1980.

Bennett was placed on the injured list on 10/8/80 (two days before the start of the regular season), as the Kings cut their active roster down to the minimum 11 players in preparation for the start of the season. He was waived on 10/22/80 without having been activated from the IL or appearing in any games.

Games Played: Bennett was on the injured list for the entire portion of the season he was on the Kings’ roster, and did not appear in any games. The Jazz would sign him later in the season, and he would go on to play in 28 games for them.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.
Last edited by MCT on Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Kansas City Kings Games Played/Started & Transac

Postby MCT » Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:00 pm

KANSAS CITY KINGS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

The Kings had a stable starting lineup throughout most of the season: Lacey at center; King & Wedman at forward; and Birdsong & Ford at guard. Birdsong and Ford both missed significant time due to apparent injuries (as a result, Grunfeld managed to accumulate 27 regular season starts), and there seems to have been some indecision over who to start at center during the first quarter of the season. But for the season as a whole, and during our snapshot period in particular, these five guys were clearly the regular starters. Four of the regular starters averaged at least 33 minutes a game, led by Birdsong with 36.5. The older Lacey was the only one under that, at 27.2 mpg.

At forward, b-r.com has King as the PF and Wedman as the SF, and at guard, Ford as the PG and Birdsong as the SG. All of that seems pretty clear cut.

In the playoffs, the Kings appear to have been wracked by injuries, both among the starters and among the reserves, and their starting lineup was a bit of a mess as result. Even beyond the fact that we’re talking about a team with a 40-42 record, it is truly remarkable that this team came within a few games of making the NBA Finals. Let’s look at things round by round:

Portland – Ford missed the entire series; the starters were four regulars (Lacey, King, Wedman, Birdsong) plus Grunfeld in place of Ford.

Phoenix – Ford missed the entire series, and Birdsong most of it as well; Grunfeld continued to start at guard; for most of the series, Wedman was shifted to starting at guard, and Douglas started at forward in place of Wedman.

Houston – Ford was back, and started for most of the series, allowing Wedman to move back to forward; with Birdsong’s availability spotty, Grunfeld continued to start in the other guard slot.

RESERVES

The Kings’ first two reserves were Joe Meriweather (20.5 mpg) and Ernie Grunfeld (20.1 mpg). Meriweather was a big man who played some combination of C and PF. It’s hard to tell how much he played where, but b-r.com has his primary position shown as C. Grunfeld was a swingman who played some combination of small forward and guard. b-r.com has his primary position shown as SF, but I think he probably played more at guard than at forward, if only due to injuries in the backcourt. He was probably more of a natural SG than a PG, but he may have played PG at times, in a lineup opposite Birdsong or Wedman.

Next on the depth chart comes Leon Douglas (17.2 mpg). Like Meriweather, Douglas was a big man who played some combination of C and PF. As with Meriweather, It’s hard to tell how much he played where, but b-r.com has his primary position shown as C. Douglas is followed by Lloyd Walton (13.5 mpg) and John Lambert (11.0 mpg). Walton was a PG, while Lambert filled in what was left at PF.

The last player on the Blazers’ bench was Frankie Sanders, picked up as a fill-in when Hawkeye Whitney went down with an injury. b-r.com lists his primary position as SF. Sanders played in 23 out a possible 33 games, averaging 8.1 mpg.

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

A lot of teams have players listed by b-r.com as playing both center and (power) forward, and it isn’t always obvious who played how many minutes where. The Kings had three such players. Joe Meriweather and Leon Douglas are listed as C-F with a primary position of C. Meriweather’s primary position is listed as C for most seasons of his career, and Douglas’ for all. John Lambert is also listed as C-F, but with a primary position of PF for every season of his career. Lambert, who wasn’t signed until late December and played just 475 regular season minutes, is the only reserve listed with a primary position of PF.

Trying to sort all of this out, my sense is that Meriweather and Douglas platooned to cover both the backup C role and the bulk of backup PF minutes, with Lambert covering some minutes at PF from late December onward. Between Meriweather and Douglas, it’s possible that one concentrated more heavily on C and one on PF, or that both were used interchangeably at both positions; it’s hard to say for certain. Meriweather and Douglas were both probably more natural Cs than natural PFs. Neither one has a profile that makes it seem like they obviously would have been used primarily to cover PF, leaving C primarily to the other. Meriweather has a few seasons where his primary position is listed as PF, while Douglas is listed as C for every season of his career. Both players are shown starting some games at both positions this year, however, so it probably wasn't that clear cut.

If you add up the minutes played by the three players on the Kings whose primary position was center, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Kings whose primary position was elsewhere, there is an overage of 1132 minutes at a center, and a shortage of 1132 minutes in the “elsewhere” category. My guess is that the 1132 minutes represents time played by Meriweather and Douglas at power forward (this works out to 13.8 mpg). If the two combined to play 1132 minutes at forward, that would leave them playing 1738 minutes combined at center. Assuming that they split the job of covering PF roughly evenly, that would leave both of them playing more minutes at center than forward, consistent with b-r.com's listing both of their primary positions as C.

Applying the same math to the Kings' playoff minutes yields an overage of 320 minutes (21.3 mpg) at center, suggesting that Meriweather and/or Douglas saw even heavier minutes at forward during the playoffs than they had during the regular season. Injuries in the backcourt is the likely explanation. Swingman Grunfeld was probably more-or-less a full-time guard during the playoffs, and regular starting SF Wedman was shifted to starting at SG for several games. This presumably opened up more minutes at forward to be covered by Meriweather and/or Douglas. Douglas started several playoff games at forward in place of Wedman.

With Lacey, Meriweather and Douglas already present to cover center, I can’t see why Lambert would have played much there. I think he was likely a full-time forward. There were probably times when Meriweather, Douglas or Lambert were paired up with King, with the latter taking on more of an SF role.

Forward-Guards

The Kings had several players shown at these two positions. Wedman, Sanders and Gerard are shown as F-G, with a primary position of SF. Whitney is shown as G-F, with a primary position of SG. Grunfeld is shown as G-F, with a primary position this year of SF.

On the surface, we’ve got five guys who could play either SF or SG, but there’s no obvious reason why the Kings would have needed to shuffle all five around on a regular basis. If we were going to pick one who was the most likely to have been used extensively at both positions, it would be Grunfeld. Of the four, he seems to have swung between these two positions the most over the course of his career (he is the only one who has seasons in his career with both positions shows as primary). And while b-r.com shows Grunfeld’s primary position as SF this season, he has to have played heavily at guard. Grunfeld started 27 regular season games and all 15 playoff games at guard. It’s possible that the Kings originally intended to use Grunfeld mostly at forward, but injuries in the backcourt (Whitney, Birdsong, Ford) forced them to deploy him more heavily at guard. In the end, I think SG was his primary position, not SF.

If you take Grunfeld out of the equation, and you add up the minutes played by every other player on the Kings whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every other player on the Kings whose primary position was in the backcourt, you are left with 371 minutes in the frontcourt and 1213 minutes in the backcourt. That’s a heavy slant towards guard. It’s possible that this doesn’t accurately reflect Grunfeld’s split between the two positions. For example, it’s possible that Whitney saw some minutes at forward, which would reduce the imbalance a bit. But I don’t see any way the numbers work without Grunfeld playing far more heavily at guard than at forward.

It’s hard to say how much time the other three players saw at which position. Given the split quoted in the previous paragraph, I have a hard time seeing anyone whose primary position was SF (e.g., Wedman and Sanders) playing much guard. Wedman started several games at guard during the playoffs, but that was a crisis situation due to injuries to multiple players in the backcourt rotation. I don’t know about Whitney. Sanders, who was signed to replace Whitney, is shown with a primary position of SF. That Whitney was replaced with an SF may indicate that he was seeing some playing time there. On the other hand, if Whitney’s injury had already forced the Kings to play Grunfeld more at SG, the Kings may have signed an SF simply to cover for the minutes Grunfeld was no longer playing at that position.

Grunfeld’s natural backcourt position would seem to be SG, but he may have played some PG as well. After Ford went out with an injury late in the season, the Kings were starting Grunfeld and Birdsong. In that lineup, which one is the PG? Both look to me like guys who were capable of playing PG in a pinch but weren’t really true combo guards. What about the stretch in the playoffs when Wedman started at guard alongside Grunfeld? I have a hard time seeing the Kings ask Wedman to run the point, so I guess Grunfeld was the PG?

In the playoffs, I am assuming that Grunfeld played almost entirely at guard, due to a rash of injuries in the backcourt (Grunfeld started all 15 of the Kings' playoffs games at guard). Applying the same math as above to the Kings' playoff minutes leaves frontcourt players credited with 362 more minutes than was available, and a shortage of 995 minutes at guard. If we apply all of Grunfeld's 663 minutes to the guard total, that balances the overage/shortage at 362 minutes. This would seem to represent minutes played at guard by someone whose normal primary position was forward, presumably Scott Wedman. That would cover 55% of Wedman's playoff minutes, though, even though he only started 40% of the games at guard. Was he getting minutes at guard throughout the playoffs, even in the games he started at forward?

As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Jo Jo White, born 11/16/46 (age 33 at the start of the season, retired shortly before turning 34). After White retired, the Kings’ oldest player was Sam Lacey, born 3/28/48 (age 32 throughout most of season, turned 33 the day before the regular season ended).

Played in ABA: Gus Gerard, Mel Bennett. Bennett was on the injured list for the portion of the season he spent with the Kings, and did not appear in any games. Gerard did play, but he was waived just after Christmas. After that point, the Kings had no ABA vets on their roster.

Longest continuous service with team: Sam Lacey, with the franchise since the 1970-71 season, when it was known as the Cincinnati Royals. Lacey was the only player who had been with the franchise continuously since its days in Cincinnati. Lacey and Scott Wedman were the only players to go back to the time period when the team was called the Kansas City-Omaha Kings.

Highest original draft position*: #2 overall – Otis Birdsong and Phil Ford.

Lowest original draft position*: 3rd round, #50 overall – Gus Gerard. Lloyd Walton was also a 3rd round pick, but at a higher overall pick position (#40). Note that some reference sources show Mel Bennett as undrafted, but that isn’t really accurate. Bennett was never selected in a regular NBA draft, but that was because he was never eligible for a regular NBA draft, which isn’t really what people mean when they say a player was “undrafted”. In addition, Bennett was both eligible for and actually selected in a special December 1975 supplemental draft of ABA players who had not yet been eligible for the NBA Draft. That draft’s existence has been almost completely forgotten by modern reference sources. Of the 15 players who spent time on the Kings’ roster this year, 12 were 1st round picks. Of the remaining three, two were not drafted by the NBA until after they had already played in the ABA (Gus Gerard and Mel Bennett). Excluding players who had already played in the ABA before being drafted by the NBA, Lloyd Walton was the only player who was not a 1st round pick.

Youngest Player: Charles “Hawkeye” Whitney, born 6/22/57 (age 23 throughout the season).

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away, player was already under contract to ABA).
Last edited by MCT on Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Kansas City Kings Games Played/Started & Transac

Postby wojoaderge » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:59 am

Grunfeld was the starting playoff PG in place of Ford
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Re: 1980-81 Kansas City Kings Games Played/Started & Transac

Postby MCT » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:49 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Kings:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm    player          pos   Min     PO   Min
KC   Scott Wedman      F   2902     Fg   657
KC   Reggie King       F   2743      F   620
KC   Otis Birdsong     G   2593      g   234
KC   Phil Ford         G   2287      G   158
KC   Sam Lacey         C   2228      C   533
KC   Ernie Grunfeld    g   1584      G   633
KC   Joe Meriweather  cf   1514     cf   199
KC   Leon Douglas     cf   1356     fc   318
KC   Lloyd Walton      c    821      g    73
KC   Hawkeye Whitney  gf    782         
KC   John Lambert      c    475      f   175
KC   JoJo White        g    236         
KC   Frankie Sanders   f    186      f    50
KC   Gus Gerard        f    123


In the above chart, Lloyd Walton’s position is shown as “c” during the regular season, and “g” during the playoffs. I assume it should be “g” in both places, and the “c” is a transcription error.

MCT wrote:A lot of teams have players listed by b-r.com as playing both center and (power) forward, and it isn’t always obvious who played how many minutes where. The Kings had three such players. Joe Meriweather and Leon Douglas are listed as C-F with a primary position of C. Meriweather’s primary position is listed as C for most seasons of his career, and Douglas’ for all. John Lambert is also listed as C-F, but with a primary position of PF for every season of his career. Lambert, who wasn’t signed until late December and played just 475 regular season minutes, is the only reserve listed with a primary position of PF.

Trying to sort all of this out, my sense is that Meriweather and Douglas platooned to cover both the backup C role and the bulk of backup PF minutes, with Lambert covering some minutes at PF from late December onward. Between Meriweather and Douglas, it’s possible that one concentrated more heavily on C and one on PF, or that both were used interchangeably at both positions; it’s hard to say for certain. Meriweather and Douglas were both probably more natural Cs than natural PFs. Neither one has a profile that makes it seem like they obviously would have been used primarily to cover PF, leaving C primarily to the other. Meriweather has a few seasons where his primary position is listed as PF, while Douglas is listed as C for every season of his career. Both players are shown starting some games at both positions this year, however, so it probably wasn't that clear cut.

If you add up the minutes played by the three players on the Kings whose primary position was center, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Kings whose primary position was elsewhere, there is an overage of 1132 minutes at a center, and a shortage of 1132 minutes in the “elsewhere” category. My guess is that the 1132 minutes represents time played by Meriweather and Douglas at power forward (this works out to 13.8 mpg). If the two combined to play 1132 minutes at forward, that would leave them playing 1738 minutes combined at center. Assuming that they split the job of covering PF roughly evenly, that would leave both of them playing more minutes at center than forward, consistent with b-r.com's listing both of their primary positions as C.

Neft & Cohen seem to be in agreement with the above analysis with regard to Meriwether and Douglas; they have both as “cf” during the regular season.

Applying the same math to the Kings' playoff minutes yields an overage of 320 minutes (21.3 mpg) at center, suggesting that Meriweather and/or Douglas saw even heavier minutes at forward during the playoffs than they had during the regular season. Injuries in the backcourt is the likely explanation. Swingman Grunfeld was probably more-or-less a full-time guard during the playoffs, and regular starting SF Wedman was shifted to starting at SG for several games. This presumably opened up more minutes at forward to be covered by Meriweather and/or Douglas. Douglas started several playoff games at forward in place of Wedman.

For the playoffs, Neft & Cohen again have Meriwether as “cf”, but Douglas changes to “fc”.

MCT wrote:With Lacey, Meriweather and Douglas already present to cover center, I can’t see why Lambert would have played much there. I think he was likely a full-time forward. There were probably times when Meriweather, Douglas or Lambert were paired up with King, with the latter taking on more of an SF role.

Neft & Cohen don’t agree with this, at least during the regular season, when they have Lambert as exclusively a center. Note that this contradicts b-r.com’s identification of Lambert’s primary position as PF.

For the playoffs, however, Neft & Cohen have Lambert as exclusively a forward. At first glance, it seems a bit odd that he would play center sufficiently heavily during the regular season to have it listed as his exclusive position, then play forward sufficiently heavily during the playoffs as to have it listed as his exclusive position. Perhaps this is another effect of the circumstances discussed above for Douglas.

MCT wrote: The Kings had several players shown at [both forward and guard]. Wedman, Sanders and Gerard are shown as F-G, with a primary position of SF. Whitney is shown as G-F, with a primary position of SG. Grunfeld is shown as G-F, with a primary position this year of SF.

On the surface, we’ve got five guys who could play either SF or SG, but there’s no obvious reason why the Kings would have needed to shuffle all five around on a regular basis. If we were going to pick one who was the most likely to have been used extensively at both positions, it would be Grunfeld. Of the four, he seems to have swung between these two positions the most over the course of his career (he is the only one who has seasons in his career with both positions shows as primary). And while b-r.com shows Grunfeld’s primary position as SF this season, he has to have played heavily at guard. Grunfeld started 27 regular season games and all 15 playoff games at guard. It’s possible that the Kings originally intended to use Grunfeld mostly at forward, but injuries in the backcourt (Whitney, Birdsong, Ford) forced them to deploy him more heavily at guard. In the end, I think SG was his primary position, not SF.

If you take Grunfeld out of the equation, and you add up the minutes played by every other player on the Kings whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every other player on the Kings whose primary position was in the backcourt, you are left with 371 minutes in the frontcourt and 1213 minutes in the backcourt. That’s a heavy slant towards guard. It’s possible that this doesn’t accurately reflect Grunfeld’s split between the two positions. For example, it’s possible that Whitney saw some minutes at forward, which would reduce the imbalance a bit. But I don’t see any way the numbers work without Grunfeld playing far more heavily at guard than at forward.

Not only do Neft & Cohen think Grunfeld played more heavily at guard, they think he played so little at forward that they have him as exclusively a guard. Note that this contradicts b-r.com’s identification of Grunfeld’s primary position as SF (which I had disputed in my previous analysis).

I’m a bit surprised that Neft & Cohen think Grunfeld didn’t play forward at all, or at least not enough to justify listing it as a secondary position. That Grunfeld spent all of his time at guard late in the season, and in the playoffs, after the Kings’ backcourt lineup had been disrupted by injury, doesn’t surprise me. But I’d think that in the early part of the season, he was probably seeing some playing time at forward. On the other hand, the analysis above doesn’t really show a whole lot of minutes available at forward, and if Whitney was playing some of them (see the next paragraph), it’s plausible that Grunfeld saw minimal time there. Did the Kings plan on using Grunfeld more-or-less exclusively at guard right from the start of the season? Or did Jo Jo White’s retirement perhaps prompt them to use Grunfeld more heavily at guard?

MCT wrote:It’s hard to say how much time the other three players saw at which position. Given the split quoted in the previous paragraph, I have a hard time seeing anyone whose primary position was SF (e.g., Wedman and Sanders) playing much guard. Wedman started several games at guard during the playoffs, but that was a crisis situation due to injuries to multiple players in the backcourt rotation. I don’t know about Whitney. Sanders, who was signed to replace Whitney, is shown with a primary position of SF. That Whitney was replaced with an SF may indicate that he was seeing some playing time there. On the other hand, if Whitney’s injury had already forced the Kings to play Grunfeld more at SG, the Kings may have signed an SF simply to cover for the minutes Grunfeld was no longer playing at that position.

Neft & Cohen have Wedman (at least during the regular season) and Sanders as exclusively forwards. They have Whitney as “gf”.

MCT wrote:In the playoffs, I am assuming that Grunfeld played almost entirely at guard, due to a rash of injuries in the backcourt (Grunfeld started all 15 of the Kings' playoffs games at guard). Applying the same math as above to the Kings' playoff minutes leaves frontcourt players credited with 362 more minutes than was available, and a shortage of 995 minutes at guard. If we apply all of Grunfeld's 663 minutes to the guard total, that balances the overage/shortage at 362 minutes. This would seem to represent minutes played at guard by someone whose normal primary position was forward, presumably Scott Wedman. That would cover 55% of Wedman's playoff minutes, though, even though he only started 40% of the games at guard. Was he getting minutes at guard throughout the playoffs, even in the games he started at forward?

For the playoffs, Neft & Cohen have Grunfeld as exclusively a guard (as noted earlier, they actually have him as exclusively a guard during the regular season), and Wedman as “Fg”.
MCT
 
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