Karl Plays the Kids: The Kids Play Big

George Karl, notorious for giving small amounts of playing time to young players, has changed his ways in the last few games. How have the youngsters performed?

It has been a turbulent year in Sacramento, to say the least. Not only has the product on the court been underwhelming, but the drama in the locker room has begun to spill into the media. 

Last week, head coach George Karl was asked about the potential of 25 year old Seth Curry. He responded by saying that combo guards like Seth try to score too much, and that he should become more of a play making point guard. He also added that Curry would probably only be in the NBA “a couple of years”. (Curry responded with a “snakes in the grass” emoji tweet, but it was quickly deleted)

It wasn’t the first time this season that Karl has called out one of his young players in the media. In January, he criticized rookie Willie Caulie-Stein’s conditioning, and made a heavy cut in his minutes when the player returned after missing 12 games with a dislocated finger. 

Karl is notorious for not giving minutes to young players, and that hasn’t changed a bit this season. Caulie-Stein is averaging 20.2 minutes per game, 13th among rookies, tied with Larry Nance and just behind Frank Kaminsky. Seth Curry is averaging 12.6 minutes per game in the 37 games that he has actually appeared in. Karl has chosen to give James Anderson an equal amount of minutes as Curry, and he has appeared in seven more games. Anderson averages (by far) the least points per 36 minutes on the team, at a whopping 7.8. Curry averages 14.2. 

But something has changed for Karl in the past few games: he’s playing the kids. Prior to Wednesdays game against Washington, Curry and Caulie-Stein both played 20+ minutes and put up solid numbers in the previous three games:

vs.PHX: 26min, 12pts, 40%fg
vs.DAL: 22min, 14pts, 57%fg
vs.POR: 33min, 21pts, 52%fg

vs.PHX: 29min, 26pts, 57%fg
vs.DAL: 28min, 21pts, 72%fg
vs.POR: 33min, 13pts, 50%fg

After the game against the Mavericks, Curry was giving a postgame interview when DeMarcus Cousins interrupted by saying, “You’re gonna be in this league a long time, remember that. A long time.” In his own post game interview, Cousins was asked about the success of the two young players, to which he responded: “Two guys that are gonna be in this league a long, long time.”

Even with the recent success of the Curry and Caulie-Stein, Karl still seems to be unimpressed. His take on the play of WCS in the Phoenix game: “He was good, but I think a lot of his good was we made plays for him.”

Some things never change. 

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