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1 Sacramento Kings They've done fine without Chris Webber, and they can make do without Mike Bibby--at least until they get another shot at the world champs

Oct. 28, 2002
Oct. 28, 2002

Table of Contents
Oct. 28, 2002

NBA Preview 2002-03

1 Sacramento Kings They've done fine without Chris Webber, and they can make do without Mike Bibby--at least until they get another shot at the world champs

Had the broken right foot that will keep point guard Mike Bibby
out of action until at least December occurred last season, it
would've been bad, but not horrible, news for the Kings. But this
year, in the wake of Bibby's star-making performance in last
season's playoffs, it seems catastrophic. One could argue that,
right now, no other Sacramento player is as valuable as Bibby,
including Chris Webber. After all, last season Webber missed 28
games, yet the Kings were 19-9 without their star forward. "Hey,
we played without Chris last year, so we can get along without
Mike this year," says center Vlade Divac. "Well, for a while,
anyway."

This is an article from the Oct. 28, 2002 issue

Has one player ever been elevated from good to great as quickly
as Bibby? Based almost solely upon his play in the
postseason--even more specifically, his performance against the
Lakers in the Western Conference finals (22.7 points per
game)--the 24-year-old Bibby is now routinely rated with the top
point guards in the league. He's also being correspondingly paid,
having been rewarded in the off-season with a seven-year, $80
million contract. Which raises the question: Is the real Bibby
that good? "Of course Mike is that good," Divac declares. "The
way he played in the playoffs is what is in his heart and
spirit."

Before the playoffs, though, Bibby averaged only 13.7 points and
5.0 assists. Either his postseason was a frightfully brilliant
anomaly or it's an instance of a hero emerging at a time when
he's most sorely needed. And, boy, was Bibby sorely needed. When
franchise co-owner Gavin Maloof made his overheated remark
recently that the Kings "could be one of the greatest teams
ever," he must have forgotten some of the deficiencies shown by
his team in the clutch, most prominently the uncertain
marksmanship of players like Webber, shooting guard Doug Christie
and forward Peja Stojakovic.

Thus the Kings must do a little tweaking to get by the Lakers.
Forward Hedo Turkoglu has added not only blond hair but also 15
weight-room pounds and has made noise about wanting to start
ahead of Christie. That probably won't happen early, but the Holy
Turk (as backup center Scot Pollard calls him) might steal
playing time from Stojakovic, who must do a better job of
creating his own shot and demonstrate some kind of low-post game.
Meanwhile, minutes have to be found for guard Bobby Jackson,
runner-up in last year's voting for best sixth man. (Another
potentially disruptive element is Webber's federal court date,
yet to be scheduled, on charges of perjury in connection with the
money laundering trial of Michigan booster Ed Martin.)

One other change will almost certainly be positive: Lanky
free-agent signee Keon Clark will reduce Divac's minutes, at
least during the regular season, which is O.K. with Divac. "Of
all our main guys," said the 34-year-old Yugoslav, "I'm the only
one who can go down in performance."

Not quite true, Vlade. Your wide-eyed point guard now has an
injury to come back from and an abundance of expectations to live
up to. --Jack McCallum

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH JUMP STARTER With Bibby out until December, the energetic Jackson shifts from the bench to the opening lineup.

FAST FACT
The Kings were one of two teams with a winning record (18-17)
last season when allowing 100 or more points. (Dallas was 26-20.)

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Kings

"Their fourth-quarter collapse against the Lakers won't affect
them until they're in the same situation again next spring. If
Peja Stojakovic had been healthy, he might have put them over the
top.... The only guy who might have trouble with his confidence
is Doug Christie, especially if he loses his starting job to Hedo
Turkoglu during the season.... Remember how the Kings got off to
a good start without Chris Webber last year? They're going to
have a harder time trying to make do without Mike Bibby. Bobby
Jackson is a good sixth man, but he's going to struggle against
the frontline point guards.... When Bibby was with the Grizzlies,
it was easy to stop his penetration by throwing bodies at him.
But the Kings spread the floor so well that when he gets in the
lane he only has to deal with one or two defenders.... Webber
likes to set up on the elbow because he can pass or score from
there, but they need to go back to posting him up so he can get
to the free throw line more. It would also help if he were a
consistent free throw shooter.... I don't think Keon Clark is
going to fit in with the Kings as well as he did with the
Raptors. Sacramento's other big men are incredible passers, but
Clark isn't.... Coach Rick Adelman has won in Portland and
Sacramento because he's had good players and also because he
treats them like men and sticks up for them.... I love watching
them play, but I hate scouting them. The Lakers and Nets use
five-man motion and reads, but the Kings are even more
inscrutable. They run isolations that seem to be based on eye
contact. I'd like to be able to tell my coaches, 'When they call
this play, they do such and such,' but they come down the floor
without calling any play, and then they'll run several variations
out of the same set.... The Stojakovic-Webber two-man game is
especially deadly."

DEFENSIVE RATINGS

Tough D
CHRISTIE

Fair D
WEBBER
STOJAKOVIC
DIVAC

No D
BIBBY

PROJECTED LINEUP
2001-02 record: 61-21 (first in Pacific)
Points scored: 104.6 (2nd) Points allowed: 97.0 (19th)
Coach: Rick Adelman (fifth season with Kings)

STARTERS PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

SF Peja
Stojakovic 20 21.2 ppg 5.3 rpg 1.14 spg 48.4 FG% 41.6 3FG%
PF Chris Webber 7 24.5 ppg 10.1 rpg 4.8 apg 1.41 bpg 49.5 FG%
C Vlade Divac 37 11.1 ppg 8.4 rpg 3.7 apg 1.18 bpg 47.2 FG%
SG Doug Christie 73 12.0 ppg 4.6 rpg 4.2 apg 1.98 spg 46.0 FG%
PG Mike Bibby 80 13.7 ppg 5.0 apg 1.09 spg 45.3 FG% 37.0 3FG%

BENCH PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

G Bobby Jackson 101 11.1 ppg 3.1 rpg 2.0 apg 0.90 spg 44.3 FG%
G-F Hedo Turkoglu 118 10.1 ppg 4.5 rpg 2.0 apg 42.2 FG% 36.8 3FG%
F-C Keon Clark[1] 153 11.3 ppg 7.4 rpg 1.1 apg 1.51 bpg 49.0 FG%
F-C Scot Pollard 199 6.4 ppg 7.1 rpg 0.95 bpg 0.88 spg 55.0 FG%
G-F Gerald Wallace 285 3.2 ppg 1.6 rpg 0.5 apg 0.35 spg 42.9 FG%

[1] New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

WEBBER LIKES TO SET UP AT THE ELBOW, BUT HE NEEDS TO POST UP SO
HE CAN GET TO THE LINE.