Coach Gene Shue altered the look of the Washington Bullets dramatically yesterday when he moved small forward Greg Ballard, the team's leading scorer, to power forward.
Shue said his new starting lineup, which will be used for the first time tonight when the Bullets play the Kansas City Kings at Capital Centre at 8:05, will be one of the shortest in the National Basketball Association. Still, he is hoping it will give the team more speed and more consistent scoring.
The lineup will have Ballard and Charles Davis, both 6-foot-7, at forward; 6-9 Rick Mahorn at center, and Ricky Sobers (6-3) and Frank Johnson (6-1) at guard.
"We may have problems rebounding with that lineup, but we'll have our good shooters in," said Shue. "It'll be a different look for us. It's a better lineup to run with.
"This wasn't done on a whim, either. We thought about it last year . . . If it works, we'll stay with it."
Shue is hoping Ballard, a superb outside shooter, will cause problems for opposing power forwards by drawing them away from the basket. "But for this to work, Greg and Charles have to rebound," said Shue.
Ballard is averaging 7.2 rebounds and Davis 2.4.
Spencer Haywood's health problems contributed to Shue's making the change. A leg injury, an eye injury and now flu have made Haywood, the regular power forward, a part-time performer this season.
He played only six minutes two games ago and not at all the last game, a victory over Phoenix Saturday, because of flu. He isn't expected to play much tonight, although he did practice yesterday.
"I'm not going to use Spencer until I'm sure he's ready, and he isn't ready now," said Shue. "It's like starting all over with him. It may take a while."
Rookie Dave Batton started the last game in Haywood's spot, but scored only two points and had one rebound in 12 minutes. Shue said he doesn't like to start 6-10 Jeff Ruland because he is one of his best reserves and because he can't afford to have Ruland and Mahorn get into foul trouble, something they tend to do when they play a lot.
Davis started five of the last six games at shooting guard, but now that Sobers has moved into the starting lineup, Davis is back at his more familiar small forward position. In his first game back there, against Phoenix, he had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes.
Shue said guard Don Collins, who has missed the last 17 games with a stress fracture in his left foot, will probably be taken off the injured list today and play tonight against the Kings. Collins has been practicing with the team the last two days.
"It's just a little sore, that's all," Collins said of the foot after yesterday's two-hour workout. "I'm ready to play, though, and in 10 or 12 days my stamina and everything will be back."
After losing nine in a row, the Bullets have won three of their last four. Kansas City, one of the surprise teams in the early season, has lost six in a row and nine straight on the road . . . Guard Larry Drew, the Kings' second-leading scorer (19.4) and third in the NBA in assists (9.0), is doubtful because of a jammed right wrist. He has missed the last two games.