SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Chris Broussard ESPN Mag
|Won't miss a beat from the CWebb era until the playoffs.|
|Ric Bucher ESPN Mag
||Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim aren't suited to play the Princeton style that has been the Kings' hallmark since GM Geoff Petrie built this team. Another talented team that will be searching for an identity.|
|John Carroll ESPN
||This is a talented squad. The pickups of Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells will enhance an excellent offensive core. But will the Kings improve enough defensively to beat the top teams in the West deep in the playoffs?|
|Chad Ford ESPN Insider
||Every year we keep writing that the door is closing on the Kings and every year they find a way to keep it open. If Peja refinds his stroke, Bonzi stays in control and Shareef is really healthy, they'll be dangerous.|
|John Hollinger ESPN Insider
||The projected Pacific champs by default once Amare Stoudemire was hurt, Sacramento won't seriously challenge the West's top dogs unless Peja rediscovers the deadly accuracy he displayed two years ago.|
|Scoop Jackson ESPN.com Page 2
Less will be more. Shareef will remind them of C-Webb, circa 2001.
|Tim Legler ESPN
See Item 7 for Legler's analysis of the Sacramento Kings.
Eric Neel ESPN
|They're deep, they're experienced, they have a philosophy they still believe in, their point is cool, and they've got the prospect of Bonzi in the post and Peja on the arc. They will upset the Suns in the Pacific.|
|Jim O'Brien ESPN
||Rick Adelman is a vastly underrated coach. He puts up 50-win seasons on a regular basis. It's Mike Bibby's team now, and the addition of Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim continues to make the Kings a nightmare to match up against.|
|Will Perdue ESPN Insider
||The team that benefits most from Amare Stoudemire's injury brought in more scorers with Wells and Shareef. But coach Adelman must work on the team's defensive mind-set. Rookie Francisco Garcia will roam the passing lanes.|
|Chris Sheridan ESPN.com Insider
||Bonzi for Bobby was the rare risky move by Geoff Petrie, and it might blow up on him. Shareef was a decent signing, but he hasn't played a playoff game in nine NBA seasons. He'll make it 10 under Rick Adelman and whoever replaces him.|
|Marc Stein ESPN.com
||The names look good on a lineup card, but I need to see it before I believe it. If the new guys (Bonzi and Shareef) mesh with the Peja-Bibby-Miller trio, Sacramento can capitalize on Amare's injury to make a run at the Pacific crown.|
|Starters: Bibby, Peja and Miller are three of the best at their positions.|
|Posted 15, 9 and 3 after escaping Philly.||
|Declining? 44.4 percent touch was worst since he was a rook.||
|Can shoot and pass (led all centers with 3.9 apg).||
|Can score with anybody. But not from the showers.||
|Best in the West. (Now that Nash lost his buddy Amare.)||
|Bench: Shareef Abdur-Rahim is an overqualified reserve. PG Jason Hart is an underrated pickup. Brian Skinner knows how to bang. But none of them is Bobby Jackson.||
ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands Oct. 26.
Player Efficiency Rating
vs. NBA Avg.: +4.19
Mike Bibby continues to be one of the game's best guards, and if it weren't for Chauncey Billups, he would have locked up "Best current player to never appear in an All-Star Game" status. Like most of the Kings, his game is built on efficiency. Even during a poor shooting year, Bibby's true shooting percentage ranked 12th among point guards, and as usual, he did it while maintaining a very low turnover ratio.Bibby is particularly adept at nailing jump shots. He shot 36 percent on 3-pointers but was far more deadly from the middle ranges, especially when taking a quick dribble to his left. Bibby loves to do this by setting up a pick-and-roll play and then dribbling away from the screener, counting on a hedge by the opposing point guard to open up space on his left. However, he failed to catch fire in the postseason against Seattle. Bibby has a long history of outperforming in the postseason, but the Sonics forced him to shoot going to his right and he ended up making just 39 percent. That was a continuation of his late-season struggles which dovetailed with Brad Miller's absence. Bibby only shot 41.7 percent in March and April while the big man was on the shelf because Miller wasn't feeding him for open jumpers. Defensively, Bibby has really improved. He's small and can be bulldozed in the post by bigger guards, but he moves his feet well on the perimeter and, combined with Mobley, gives the Kings a competent defensive backcourt. He helped out the Kings' struggling frontcourt too, by posting a career-best rebound rate. Bibby has slowly taken on a greater offensive load in his time in Sacramento and nearly took over the team's per-minute scoring lead last season. That could come to fruition this year, especially if Stojakovic's legs can't hold up, and if so, this may be the year Bibby brings his All-Star drought to an end. -- Kings player profiles from John Hollinger's "Pro Basketball Forecast: 2005-06," available at Amazon.com and Potomac Books.
Bibby was solid in 2004-05, but Peja and Miller need to revert to All-Star form in order to make winning the division a reality. Bonzi Wells (from Memphis) moves into the shooting guard spot and gives the Kings a go-to isolation player in the half court. Kenny Thomas will get a full year in the starting lineup and will provide relentless offensive rebounding and a decent low post scoring threat. The biggest addition to the bench is Shareef Abdur-Rahim (after failing to get medical clearance in the trade that sent him to New Jersey). When you add it up it looks exactly like last year. A solid regular season followed by an early exit against the best of the West come playoff time.
Tim Legler, ESPN Insider
Experience: 15 years
Reg. season record: 708-443
Playoff record: 68-64
Adelman has averaged 56 wins per season in the last five years.
His offense is always highly efficient and will be again this year with the addition of Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Bonzi Wells and a healthier Brad Miller.
Adelman will work to get Mike Bibby and company to be better than their No. 23 rated field-goal defense.
Jim O'Brien, ESPN.com Insider
Geoff Petrie has positioned the Kings to make another run in the West. However, no amount of dealing can keep Sacramento in the hunt if Stojakovic can't regain the sweet stroke he displayed in 2003-04.
Stojakovic couldn't keep up that production a year ago, slumping from 24.0 points per game to 20.1, and from 48.0-percent shooting to 44.4.
Fans' optimism for a Stojakovic recovery is based on several factors.
First, he played much better over the past two years when Chris Webber wasn't sharing the court with him. Now that Webber is across the country, Stojakovic should have a full season unfettered by Webber ignoring him from the high post.
Second, last year's shooting performance was uncharacteristically weak based on Peja's career norms. He had shot at least 47 percent from the floor in each of the previous four seasons, and had he done that in 2004-05, his scoring average would have been a point higher. Plus, he's still only 28 years old and has a limited injury history, which means it's a bit early for him to decline so rapidly.
Finally, it's Peja's contract year. Those shots might find the net a little more often now that he has such a strong financial incentive.
Sleeper: Brad Miller was a top 20 fantasy player last season and the year before, yet he still slips to the third or fourth round in most drafts. Miller's injury was a broken leg, not exactly one that should give him long-term woes. No center can pass like him, and offer across-the-board stats in rebounding, shooting and steals.
Bust: Bonzi Wells looks at this chance as a King as a new start, but in reality, his statistics aren't likely to change. Wells can be an active scorer and fantasy helper in steals, but on a team with Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Miller and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, shots will be hard to come by. Draft him after round eight for the double-digit points.
Eric Karabell | Fantasy Basketball Index