(Photo from Sactown Royalty) In 1994 Geoff Petrie took over an organization that had been known as perennial losers. The former Blazer took the Kings organization and made them contenders.
Sacramento could never get over the hump though against a very formidable Lakers team in 2002 when the two met in the Western Conference Finals. As the players grew older, the team became less competitive and had to tear down what he had built.
Now Sacramento is on the rebound and looking primed for another playoff appearance in the next few years.
Petrie has the Kings organization primed to make a run at a big time player this summer with a boat load of cap room and lots of expiring contracts; the Kings could even make a big trade at the deadline.
Some honorable mention for other Kings players are Francisco Garcia and Spencer Hawes. Garcia was a great pick at 23 in 2005, but Hawes is still a big question mark right now due to marginal play and questionable work ethic.
Oh, and big shout out to second round pick Jabari Smith for when Flip Saunders picked him to shoot two technicals late in a game and sank both of them.
Anyway, this article is not about the runner-ups, but those who were the best picks made by Geoff Petrie.
Gerald Wallace was a fan favorite with his explosive athleticism and hustle. He was picked in the expansion draft by the Charolette Bobcats in 2004 before the Kings could witness him reach his potential.
Wallace has been the longest tenured player on the Bobcats and is the all-time leader in points. The former King is currently fifth in the league for rebounds per game (11.4).
Wallace may have never flourished with the Kings as he was buried on a deep bench and was still raw when he left Sacramento.
Corliss was another fan favorite. The Arkansas prodcut was a hard worker and never quit while on the floor. Williamson was the second leading scorer in Sacramento during the 1997-1998 season.
Ultimately, the combo of Chris Webber and Williamson didn't work, and Corliss was traded in 2000 for another eventual fan favorite, Doug Christie. This trade set up the Kings as legitimate competitor and a push to the Western Conference Finals.
Corliss found his way back to Sacramento in a trade that included Kenny Thomas and Brian Skinner for, ironically, Chris Webber. Williamson retired a King in 2007.
Grant was Petrie's first selection as President of Basketball Operations. Until Chris Webber came along, Brian Grant may have been the best Sacramento post player.
The Xavier product bolted for Portland in the Summer of 1997 but his presence was undeniable for the the Kings team that made the playoffs in 1996, which was the first time in eleven years Sacramento played in the post season.
Sadly, the former NBA player who retired in 2006 due to injuries; was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2009. I wish him the best and will always remember his relentless work on the floor and in the community.
The verdict is still out on Thompson, but he could be a large building block for this fledgling Kings team to grow upon. JT's consistency is an issue, but he has helped this team greatly when he has played well.
He rebounds well, has a great mid-range jumpshot and works hard. JT had been averaging a double-double at times this season as well, which only a small handful of players have done.
Thompson's success is highly dependent on his work ethic and mental capacity, because physically he has the gifts to be a good NBA player.
Here is another success for Petrie at the 23rd pick in the draft. First Kevin Martin, then Fracisco Garcia, and now Omri Casspi.
Despite being a rookie, Casspi is playing like a seasoned vet. Hard as nails and a dead eye shooter. At the ripe young age of 21 he only has one place to go, and that's up.
Casspi is improving every game he plays and worked his way into the starting lineup. Trading Ron Artest for Donte Greene and the draft choice that ended up being Omri Casspi turned out to be a good deal.
Hedo was a key piece to the Kings Playoff push in 2002, and some thought Hedo should start over Peja after his strong play. The versatile wing player was a stop gap at multiple positions when players went down or fouled out in games and throughout the year.
After an injury the Turkish star lost his spot in the rotation in the 2002-2003 season and was traded with Scot Pollard to San Antonio that landed Sacramento Brad Miller from Indiana.
Hedo flourished with the Orlando Magic and was an integral part of their team that went all the way to the NBA Finals.
In the summer Turkoglu was inked to a very large contract by the Toronto Raptors. Orlando seems a different team since his departure.
Martin was the one bright spot in the past three season. His incredibly efficient scoring is his trademark, along with constant injuries.
His status with the Kings at the moment is somewhat in limbo, but Martin is arguably one of the best late first round picks in recent memory.
Who would have known a kid from Western Carolina would turn out to be such a prominent player in the league and one of the best scorers?
Not me and a majority of scouts or analysts (see? This guy is really that good).
Considering his play with Kings rookie Tyreke Evans has not been the duo the coaching staff and front office had hoped it would be, Martin may play his last season in Sacramento.
The man referred to as White Chocolate was electrifying to watch and was a catalyst in what was the first of seven straight playoff appearances.
I believe the above picture is evidence enough of his presence.
Williams' flashy passes and moves had people comparing him to "Pistol" Pete Maravich. J-Will's personal problems had him out of Sacramento by 2001, which turned out to be his biggest contribution.
Sacramento received Mike Bibby who ended up being the longest tenured player in Sacramento of the past decade and arguably the best point guard in Sacramento history.
Williams ended up going on to win an NBA title with the Miami Heat and became a very important piece on that team.
In 1996 Petrie recieved a lot of criticism for drafting the unknown Serbian at the time and passing on John "Junkyard Dog" Wallace. It's a good thing Kings fans didn't make the picks (again, look at how good this guy is).
Peja ended up being one of the best players in Sacramento Kings history. He along with Vlade Divac and Chris Webber made up arguably the best front court of the past decade.
Stojakovic was an All-Star multiple times and won the three-point shoot out at the All-Star break two years in a row. With an ailing back and a waning record, Sacramento shipped the sharp shooter midseason in 2006 to shake things up.
The Kings acquired Ron Artest which salvaged what appeared to be a lost season for the aging Kings team.
Peja was one of the best players to play in Sacramento this past decade and arguably the best small forward to play here all time.
Evans is less than half the way through his rookie season but is a big time talent. At 20 years old, Evans is now the man in Sacramento.
His stat line is indicative of rookie seasons that Oscar Robertson, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan all had. He is already by far the best player Petrie has ever drafted and his ceiling seems limitless.
Evans is the best thing to happen to Sacramento since the trade of Mitch Richmond for Chris Webber.
Evans could go down as the best player in Kings history and is already a very strong candidate to be crowned Rookie of the Year.