Sacramento Kings: Ranking the Top 5 Players of the Sacramento Era
The Sacramento Kings haven't won an NBA title since moving to Northern California in 1985 but not for a lack of individual brilliance. From the early days of Mitch Richmond to the Chris Webber era to DeMarcus Cousins' current breakout, the Kings have been home to some of the league's top talents.
The Kings' nomadic history traces from Rochester, New York, to Cincinnati to Kansas City, Missouri, with the final stop (hopefully) in Sacramento. While teams in other cities sported superstars like Oscar Robertson and Jack Twyman, this list only evaluated Sacramento ballers.
Players were ranked by their play as members of the Kings, not what they did for other teams around the league. So guys like Danny Ainge, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Ralph Sampson weren't seriously considered for any of the top spots.
Wayman Tisdale (PF, 1989-90 to 1993-94)
Tisdale averaged 18.4 points per game over five-and-a-half seasons with the Kings, but as a 6'9" power forward, the lefty was often overmatched on defense and on the glass.
Spud Webb (PG, 1991-92 to 1994-95)
Before Nate Robinson, Webb was the original miniscule dunking champion. His 42-inch vertical was the only truly exceptional part of a good but not great all-around game.
Jason Williams (PG, 1998-99 to 2000-01)
Jason "White Chocolate" Williams is arguably the only player in Kings history more exciting than Webb, as he could zip passes into the smallest spaces at the most inconceivable angles. He lasted only three years with the Kings, though, playing out most of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat.
Tyreke Evans (SG, 2009-10 to 2012-13)
Evans won the 2009-10 Western Conference Rookie of the Year award, but his production dwindled in every season since after defenses realized he didn't have a reliable jump shot.
5. Peja Stojakovic (SF, 1998-99 to 2005-06)
The sweet-shooting Serbian gave the Kings a deadly perimeter scorer in the early 21st century, as he knocked down at least 40 percent of his three-point attempts in four out of five full seasons as a starter.
A high release point made blocking Stojakovic practically impossible, and at 6'10", he was often able to bully smaller swingmen in the high post.
Stojakovic led the Kings in win shares in three consecutive seasons, per Basketball-Reference.com, and his 13.5 win shares in 2003-04 were the most in franchise history since Nate "Tiny" Archibald in 1972-73.
4. Mike Bibby (PG, 2001-02 to 2007-08)
After being traded for the more flashy Jason Williams, Mike Bibby became the Kings' rock on teams surrounded by Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. His career averages of 17.6 points per game and 2,580 with the Kings are solid if unspectacular, and he started at least 80 regular-season games in five of six full seasons.
The supporting cast's scoring ability allowed Bibby to serve as the Kings' key distributor, but he could light up the opposition when needed. His 36 points helped Sacramento beat the Dallas Mavericks in the decisive Game 5 of the first round of the 2003-04 playoffs.
Bibby is perhaps best known for his game-winning shot in Game 5 of the 2001-02 Western Conference Finals, which gave the Kings a 3-2 series lead.
3. DeMarcus Cousins (C, 2010-11 to Present)
By the time Cousins finishes playing in Sacramento, he could very well be the best Kings player of all time. But without a 30-win season under his belt, he'll have to settle for No. 3 for now.
DMC broke out last season with career highs in points, rebounds, assists and field-goal percentage. His progression as an interior defender led to a 101.5 defensive rating, good for 17th in the league, per Basketball-Reference.com.
2. Chris Webber (PF, 1998-99 to 2004-05)
C-Webb began his stint with the Kings by averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in each of his first five seasons, making one All-NBA first team, three second teams and one third team in the process.
The only drawback to Webber's game? He was surrounded by more talent than any other Kings star, yet he was never able to fully lead the team, often deferring to Mike Bibby in crucial situations. Webber's inability to become the Kings' clear-cut No. 1 player cost him the No. 1 spot in my ranking system.
1. Mitch Richmond (SG, 1991-92 to 1997-98)
Richmond was a rare bright spot for the Kings in the 1990s, averaging 23.3 points per game over seven seasons and making six consecutive All-Star games from 1992-93 to 1997-98.
In 1995-96, the lone season Richmond made the playoffs with Sacramento, he carried the team with 23.1 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting from three-point range. The next-highest scorer, small forward Walt Williams, averaged 14.6 points per game before being traded to the Miami Heat midway through the year.
"Rock" was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team alongside legends like Shaquille O'Neal, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. He was recently elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In a twist of bitter irony, the last memory Kings fans have of Richmond is his 2001-02 season sitting on the Los Angeles Lakers bench. The Lakers, of course, eliminated Sacramento in that year's Western Conference Finals, often regarded as the most controversial NBA playoff series of all time.
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