Ranking the Top 25 Players in Sacramento Kings History
The Sacramento Kings have experienced a downturn of late, missing the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons. Based on the recent past, you'd think the franchise hasn't produced much worth relishing. However, that's not the case, as the organization has a rich history over its 66 years, with plenty of individuals deserving recognition.
This slideshow is an attempt to honor those players for their contributions. And it's a way of reminding ourselves of past accomplishments, some of which can be reproduced by the next generation of Sacramento Kings.
So while no current players have made the cut, by leaving a lasting impression on the franchise, that could change in the future.
Before we get to the list, let's set out some parameters used in compiling it. First, players throughout the team's history are eligible for inclusion. This isn't just a Sacramento Kings ranking. You'll also see individuals from Rochester, Cincinnati and Kansas City.
Second—and this seems obvious, but it should be mentioned anyway—only accomplishments with the organization are considered. What a player does before or after his time with the team has no bearing on his standing.
Third, a conglomeration of overall statistics and peak performance were used. Of course, players that are higher on the list will have both. But as we get further from the elite, you may see individuals who either played for many years but were never great, or those that were here for less time but were more impactful.
Last, and this especially applies to players in the distant past, honors and accomplishments, such as All-Star teams, All-NBA teams and induction into the Hall of Fame, are weighed heavily.
The further we get from the modern game, the less relevant normal statistics become. The NBA's changed so much over the years, due to addition of the shot clock and the way contests are officiated, that simple stats like points, assists and rebounds tend to be jaded. In those cases, win shares (which measure players against their competition) and standing within the league carry more importance.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com
Franchise leaderboard stats, also from B-R, can be found here.
25. Phil Ford
Phil Ford starts off our list. He's also the first of seven point guards you'll encounter by the time you're finished with the rankings.
As far as Ford is concerned, his standing in the franchise would be higher if it weren't for his only playing four seasons with the team. Based on rate performance, Ford could be higher on the list. But his cumulative stats, tied to his longevity with the team, are holding him back.
Still, his averages of 14.9 points, 7.8 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals with the team show the consistency with which he played. None of those stats stand out in excellence, but none of them are lacking, except maybe for the 2.0 rebounds. But Ford's a point guard, so we can't expect him to be a force on the glass.
His third season in the NBA (1980-81) was the best of his career, with Ford posting 17.5 points and 8.8 assists, both of which were career highs.
Ford can also be found in the team record books. He's 33rd in scoring average (14.9), sixth in assists per game (7.8), 11th in total steals (472), seventh in total assists (2,322) and 44th in total points (4,454).
24. Larry Drew
Larry Drew was a solid floor general in his five seasons with the Kansas City-Sacramento Kings. He was never spectacular but always consistent.
The point guard averaged 14.7 points, 6.4 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals while with the organization. His second season with the team (1982-83) was the best of his career. That season, Drew posted 20.1 points, 8.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals, finishing fourth in the league in assists per game.
Drew's production dropped off from there, but not before he could leave his mark in the franchise record books. The point guard is 35th in scoring average (14.7), ninth in assists average (6.4), 24th in total points (5,543), ninth in steals (516) and sixth in total assists (2,409).
23. Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin's No. 23 jersey with the Kings is equal to his standing as the 23rd-best player in franchise history. It's hard to believe, but K-Mart was that good. His combination of peak value and longevity with the team indicate as much.
Simply looking at Martin's averages of 17.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists doesn't tell the full story. Don't get me wrong, those numbers aren't bad, and by themselves might merit inclusion on the list, but dig a little deeper and you'll see K-Mart's full value.
For one, his four-year run (2006-07 through 2009-10) of 22.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 44.5 percent shooting from the field, 38.6 percent from downtown and 86.3 percent from the charity stripe is production that's not matched by other players ahead of him on the list.
Martin's also posted three of the 10 best single-season true shooting percentages in team history, topping out at No. 5 (.618) in 2007-08. The same goes for offensive rating, Martin owns two of the 10 best single-season offensive rating marks, coming in at second all time (121.1) in 2007-08.
He's also got a place on the team's career leaderboard, standing 23rd in scoring average (17.1), 23rd in total scoring (5,660), 11th in free throws (1,791), fifth in three-pointers (459), 10th in three-point percentage (.386), 10th in free-throw percentage (.850), third in true shooting percentage (.599), eighth in turnover percentage (10.5), third in offensive rating (117.2) and 10th in win shares per 48 minutes (.146).
22. Wayman Tisdale
As a kid, Wayman Tisdale is one of the first things I remember about the Kings. I'm guessing his unique name had a lot to do with it, but he's also worth remembering for his accomplishments on the court.
Tisdale played five-plus seasons with the Kings, and while he never made an All-Star team during that time, he was clearly one of the team's better players. In fact, his averages of 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 50.9 percent shooting show as much.
The power forward's first two full seasons with the Kings were his best. Over those two years (1989-90 and 1990-91), Tisdale averaged 21.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 51.3 percent shooting.
He's also fairly prominent on the franchise leaderboard. Tisdale is 17th in scoring average (18.4), 29th in rebounding average (7.2), 16th in total points (6,808) and 19th in total rebounds (2,676).
21. Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson was one of the carryovers from the franchise's relocation from Kansas City to Sacramento. During those six seasons he established himself as an above-average starter and an elite backup.
Johnson averaged 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 31.8 minutes per game. Between the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons, the small forward averaged 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a starter.
Then, in 1986-87, his last season in Sacramento, Johnson started coming off the bench, averaging 18.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in predominantly a reserve role. Those are pretty excellent numbers for a bench player, and although he wasn't honored that season, Johnson did earn Sixth Man of the Year in 1988-89 with the Phoenix Suns, showing he stayed an elite backup for years.
However, only time with the Kings franchise is considered. Even then, Johnson accomplished more than enough. He's 15th in scoring average (18.7), eighth in total points (9,027), 22nd in total rebounds (2,457) and 23rd in assists (1,359).
20. Brad Miller
To be honest, as I started working through this list in my head, Brad Miller wasn't one of the names I originally came up with. But as I started looking at the individual numbers, the standings on the franchise leaderboard and the peak value, it became apparent that Miller was worthy of inclusion.
In terms of the individual numbers, Miller's 13.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists exemplify him as a very good all-around player. Perhaps most remarkable of his stats with the Kings were the 4.0 assists and .334 three-point percentage, as they show he brought things to the table not often equated with a big man.
For peak value, Miller's three-year run (2003-04 to 2005-06) of 14.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.0 blocks on 50.8 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range established himself as one of the game's top post players. Furthermore, Miller's got the All-Star game selection (2003-04) to prove it.
Miller's also 10th in franchise history in offensive rating (114.3), eighth in defensive rebound percentage (21.8), seventh in total blocks (353) and fourth in defensive rebounds (5,524). Not to mention his 2004-05 offensive rating of 125.1 is the highest single-season average in the team's record book.
19. Mike Bibby
Personally, I'm kind of surprised Bibby only came in at No. 21. As I started prepping for the list, I figured he'd be more in the 10-15 range.
However, there were a couple things going against him. First, while always an above-average player, Bibby never made an All-Star team. Second, and probably most important, is the fairly rich history of point guards in the organization. Granted, positional value isn't an overriding factor, but if there are players ahead of you at your position, then you're likely to fall further down the rankings in pertinent statistics.
I suppose another factor that went against Bibby was the offense in which he played. The Kings offense at the time focused on team ball movement, instead of a point guard-heavy attack, which tended to keep his assists totals down compared to other point guards. Yet in order to stay as objective as possible, we've got to stick with the stats and accomplishments, both of which point to Bibby being further down the list.
His averages of 17.6 points, 5.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds show how consistent Bibby was. And over his final four full seasons in Sacramento, Bibby averaged 19.0 points, 5.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds.
On the franchise leaderboard, Bibby is third in three-pointers (775), fifth in assists (2,580), fifth in steals (584), ninth in offensive win shares, 20th in scoring average (17.6) and 12th in assist average (5.4).
More important than anything else is Bibby's big shot in Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. That carries more weight than any single statistic. Yet, if we're going off of stats, which we are in this slideshow, then Bibby's placement is just about right.
18. Vlade Divac
A huge portion of Divac's standing on this list is due to his influence on the franchise. For one, he's the greatest free-agent acquisition in Sacramento history. But he also established himself as one of the top centers in the NBA, for which he deserves credit.
Throughout his six years with the team, Divac was a constant, only missing six games total. The Kings could count on his consistency and they could count on his presence in the lineup.
His averages of 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals and a 99 defensive rating exemplify this all-around consistency. Yet Divac also had some peak value. He was named to the All-Star team in 2000-01, and he averaged a double-double with 14.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in 1998-99.
Of course, Vlade also left his mark on the organization. He's fifth in offensive rebounds (1,019), fifth in defensive rebounds (2,519), 10th in total rebounds (3,538), fifth in blocks (523), tied for sixth in blocks per game (1.2) and fourth in defensive win shares (20.9).
Having your No. 21 jersey retired also doesn't hurt your standing in franchise history.
17. Reggie Theus
Many Kings fans, myself included, are probably more familiar with Reggie Theus from his lackluster results as the team's head coach. Yet Theus was a damn good player in the NBA, including his four-plus years with the Kings.
While he never participated in an All-Star Game with the Kings (he qualified for two with the Chicago Bulls), Theus was certainly an above-average player, as his averages of 18.8 points and 8.1 assists with the team can attest.
And despite only playing parts of five seasons with the franchise, Theus established himself as one of the organization's best all-time players. The point guard is fourth in total assists (2,809), tied for second in assists per game (8.1) and first in assist percentage.
In terms of pure point guards, there are only a couple in team history that were better than Theus. And while he never earned an All-Star bid with the Kings, he's ahead of Brad Miller (who did) because of his passing numbers, particularly his assist percentage.
Any time you rank ahead of Oscar Robertson, as Theus did in assist percentage, on the franchise leaderboard, you deserve some serious recognition. So, Reggie, we salute you.
16. Scott Wedman
There are some players who are excellent in one particular aspect, whether it be scoring, rebounding, defending, but aren't necessarily good all-around players. Scott Wedman was the exact opposite of that. Wedman wasn't excellent in any one area, but he was good at virtually everything.
The small forward did it all in his seven seasons with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. He was a solid scorer, averaging 16.5 points. He was a sufficient rebounder for a wing, bringing down 6.0 rebounds. He had efficiency, if not an elite status, posting a .487 field-goal percentage.
Wedman was also an above-average defender. He earned second-team All-Defense recognition for his play in 1979-80. Throughout his time with the franchise, he posted 1.2 steals per game, 17.6 defensive win shares and a defensive rating of 102.
Despite being solid all-around, Wedman also had peak value. On top of the aforementioned second-team All-Defense honors, he was named to two All-Star teams (1975-76; 1979-80).
Not to mention he's pretty prominent on the franchise leaderboard. He's seventh in career games (546), sixth in field goals (3,856), fourth in offensive rebounds (1,109), sixth in defensive rebounds (2,161), fourth in steals (640), ninth in points (9,002), third in turnover percentage (9.4) and eighth in defensive win shares (17.6).
Based on cumulative stats, Wedman could be higher on the list. However, while he did have some peak years, his status in the game at his best didn't compare with the players ahead of him when they were at their best.
15. Otis Birdsong
Had Otis Birdsong played for the team longer than four seasons, he'd undoubtedly be higher in the rankings. Yet even in that semi-brief amount of time, "Bird" certainly left his mark.
Birdsong started his career with the Kansas City Kings after being selected No. 2 overall in the 1977 draft. The 2-guard wasn't known for much more than his scoring, but when it came to putting the ball in the hole, few in franchise history were better.
In his four years with the team, Birdsong averaged 21.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals. Those numbers were good enough to earn him three consecutive All-Star nods (1978-79 to 1980-81). For what it's worth, those three appearances were the last time anyone would qualify for the team until Mitch Richmond in 1992-93.
His best campaign with the team, and throughout his career, was in 1980-81, his last with the Kings. That year, Bird averaged 24.6 points on a blistering 54.4 percent shooting from the field, which is amazing efficiency for a guard. Birdsong was so good that year that he earned second-team All-NBA honors.
In terms of franchise standing, Birdsong is sixth in points per game (21.2) and 18th in total points (6,539). His .513 field-goal percentage is 32nd overall but ninth among players that attempted at least 1,000 total field goals. Of those eight in front of him, none of them are guards. So not only was Birdsong one of the best scorers period, he also boasts the highest field-goal percentage for backcourt players.
It's just too bad he only lasted four years with the Kings.
14. Tom Van Arsdale
Tom Van Arsdale was a wing player on the Cincinnati Royals in the late '60s and early '70s. During his roughly five seasons with the team (technically he was there for parts of six seasons but was traded midseason twice), he earned a reputation as one of the league's top scorers.
Van Arsdale averaged 19.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists with the team. However, during his four full seasons, he averaged 19.7 points and pushed that number up to 22.8 in 1969-70 and 22.9 in 1970-71.
Those two seasons, along with another of 19.2 points (in 1971-72), helped Van Arsdale earn three straight inclusions into the All-Star Game. That peak value is what helped earn him his spot on the list; however, he's also got cumulative statistics indicative of his standing.
Van Arsdale is 12th in points per game (19.2), 14th in total points (7,278), 15th in field goals (2,813) and 18th in minutes per contest (35.1).
Other players ranked behind him may have had better individual seasons or individual averages (Otis Birdsong, in particular). But none of them has Van Arsdale's combination of peak performance and longevity with the team.
13. Wayne Embry
Wayne Embry spent the first eight years of his illustrious career with the Cincinnati Royals. Paired with Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas for part of that time, Embry helped lead the team to five of their six straight playoff appearances.
While Embry may have been overshadowed by those other two, he was an excellent player in his own right. Nicknamed "Goose," Embry was named to four straight All-Star teams (1961-62 to 1964-65). He also boasted averages of 14.1 points and 10.4 rebounds with the Royals, topping out at 19.8 points and 13.0 rebounds in 1961-62.
For Embry, inclusion this high on the list can largely be attributed to his four All-Star appearances and his peak performance. However, he's also fifth in games played (603), eighth in minutes played (17,591), fourth in total rebounds (6,297) and sixth in rebounds per game (10.4) on the team leaderboard.
12. Maurice Stokes
Maurice Stokes is the one player on the list that completely defies the ranking system. However, Stokes had extenuating circumstances and was an elite player during the time in which he played.
Stokes only lasted three years in the NBA, but what a great three seasons they were. Speaking of which, Stokes averaged 16.4 points and 17.3 rebounds. He was also named to the All-Star team all three years in which he played (1955-56 through 1957-58) and was second-team All-NBA in each of those seasons.
As one might imagine for a player boasting those stats, he was known for his ability in the post; however, Stokes was also an excellent passer. In fact, he finished third in assists twice and averaged 5.3 dimes for his career.
Generally speaking, a player's longevity with the team is supposed to be a big factor in their ranking. But, as I mentioned, Stokes had extenuating circumstances that make him exempt for that ruling.
Tragically, those circumstances were that Stokes fell to the floor during the final regular-season game of the 1957-58 season, banging his head on the hardwood and knocking himself unconscious. He returned to the game, but three days later he fell into a coma and was paralyzed when he awoke, immediately ending his career.
Beyond the obvious tragedy that prematurely ended his life at age 36, fans of that era were also denied the chance to watch the career arch of an all-time great. However, if there is a silver lining in all of this, it's that Jack Twyman, Stokes' teammate (and another player you'll encounter higher on the list), became Stokes' legal guardian, caring for him and raising money to help cover his medical expenses.
Although Stokes' time in the NBA came and went like a flash in the pan, he was honored for the excellent player he was, getting posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. The franchise also honored him, retiring his No. 12 jersey.
11. Sam Lacey
Sam Lacey is the highest-rated center on the list. Other players ranked ahead of him may have played some center, but none of them had it as their predominant position.
On top of being the best center in franchise history, Lacey is also unquestionably the greatest defensive player to compete for the team. And while defense tends to get overshadowed by the glamour of offense, it's still half the game.
Beyond his defensive acumen, Lacey's so high on the list because of his longevity with the team. That's not to say he also didn't have peak performance, because he did, but it doesn't stack up with some of the players ranked behind him. This is exemplified by his participation in one All-Star Game (1974-75); his inclusion shows he was recognized as a top-tier player, but only qualifying once shows he didn't sustain that status for as long as others.
Just judging on his averages of 11.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game, one might think he was a very solid but not franchise-defining player. Yet Lacey's status is cemented in the team by his heavy presence in the leaderboard and due to having his No. 44 jersey retired.
Speaking of that leaderboard, Lacey is first in games played (888), second in minutes played (29,991), first in offensive (1,565), defensive (4,974) and total rebounds (9,353), second in assists (3,563), first in steals (950), first in blocks (1,098), fifth in points (9,895), first in defensive win shares (39.8) and seventh in total win shares (50.4).
Those numbers, as great as they are, are all cumulative stats. One can compile them if he plays for the team long enough, as Lacey did. Yet Lacey also compiled some exemplary rate states, ranking fifth in rebounds per game (10.5), first in blocks per game (1.7), third in defensive rebound percentage (24.5), sixth in total rebound percentage (16.0), eighth in block percentage (2.8) and first in defensive rating (95.7).
10. Peja Stojakovic
Peja Stojakovic is the greatest draft pick in Sacramento Kings history. However, he's also one of the 10 greatest players to ever suit up for the franchise.
Stojakovic will be remembered for his crazy marksmanship and his movement without the ball, creating just enough space to get a good look. Once he got that, there was a good chance it was going in. Peja parlayed that talent into star status for a period of time, earning the respect of Kings fans forever.
He was honored with three straight All-Star appearances (2001-02 through 2003-04). Along with Brad Miller (both made it in 2003-04), he's also the last Kings player to appear in the showcase game.
Despite the his recognition for those three years, Stojakovic was never better than in the 2003-04 season. That year, he was second-team All-NBA. His 11.4 offensive win shares that campaign led the entire league. The same can be said of his 240 three-pointers and .927 free-throw percentage.
Stojakovic earns his standing in the franchise largely because of his mark on the leaderboard. He's first in three-point field goals (1,070), seventh in defensive rebounds (2,051), eighth in steals (543), sixth in points (9,498), first in free-throw percentage (.893), fifth in effective field-goal percentage (.535), second in turnover percentage (9.3), seventh in offensive rating (114.7), fifth in offensive win shares (43.5), fourth in total win shares (59.8) and fifth in win shares per 48 minutes (.162).
One could argue he deserves to be higher on the list based on his placement in many categories in the team record books. However, when taking accolades—such as All-Star appearances, All-NBA teams and Hall of Fame induction—and sustained peak performance into consideration, Stojakovic simply doesn't match up with the players ahead of him.
9. Arnie Risen
Arnie Risen was a huge part of the great Rochester Royals teams that qualified for the playoffs seven straight years (1948-49 to 1954-55) and won the franchise's loan championship (1951). Risen played the 4 and 5 for those teams, using his 6'9" frame to dominate the key, earning the nickname "Stilts."
Risen earned four consecutive All-Star appearances (1951-52 to 1954-55) with his powerful play. He was also second-team All-BAA (the precursor to the NBA) in 1948-49. Stilts also earned the ultimate honor, induction into the Hall of Fame, in 1998.
Despite playing all those years ago, Risen's accomplishments are still making their mark on the franchise leaderboard. He's eighth in total rebounds (3,812), third in rebounds per game (11.2), eighth in player efficiency rating ((18.6), 10th in offensive win shares (30.4), sixth in defensive win shares (18.5) and 10th in total win shares (48.9).
8. Bob Davies
Bob Davies played a flashy style that was rare during the time in which he played. The guard was a magician with the ball, even earning the nickname "The Harrisburg Houdini" for his exciting techniques.
Like other players on this list, normal statistics, both of the rate and cumulative variety, don't do him justice because of the era in which he played. So in the case of Davies, his standing within the game is more indicative of his true value.
For one, Davies was named to four consecutive All-Star teams (1950-51 through 1953-54). However, he likely would have qualified for more had the game been in existence. (The first All-Star Game was during the 1950-51 season, for which Davies participated.)
He was first-team All-NBA/All-BAA (the precursor to the NBA) for four straight years (1948-49 through 1951-52) and second-team All-NBA in 1952-53.
Davies was also a key cog on the franchise's only championship team (1951) and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970.
In terms of franchise standing, Davies is eighth in total assists (2,250), eighth in offensive win shares (35.4), ninth in total win shares (49.7) and eighth in win shares per 48 minutes (.148).
7. Nate 'Tiny' Archibald
While Nate Archibald might have been known as "Tiny," his accomplishments and stature within the game are anything but small.
The point guard only played his first six seasons with the Royals/Kings, but, man, what a great six years they were. They're so stellar, in fact, that Archibald has notched out a higher spot on the rankings than players that had better cumulative stats due to more time spent with the team. But those individuals can't come close to matching Tiny's peak value.
Archibald was named to three straight All-Star teams while with the franchise (1972-73 through 1975-76). He was also first-team All-NBA in those same three seasons and was second-team All-NBA in the 1971-72 campaign.
While Tiny had many great seasons throughout his career, none can compare to the 1972-73 season. In fact, he was so good that year, that not too many point guards have ever dominated as he did. That's because Archibald led the NBA in points (34.0) and assists (11.4) per game.
Despite only lasting six years with the team, Archibald's still prominent on the team leaderboard, both in rate and cumulative stats.
In cumulative stats, Tiny's third in assists (3,499), fourth in points (10,984), fourth in offensive win shares (46.7) and sixth in total win shares (53.7).
Those numbers aren't bad; however, it's his rate stats that really indicate his greatness. He's second in scoring (25.2), tied for second in assists (8.1), tied for fourth in steals (1.5), third in player efficiency rating (20.9), fifth in assist percentage (30.9) and ninth in win shares per 48 minutes (.147).
It also doesn't hurt that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 and had his jersey retired.
6. Chris Webber
In my mind, Chris Webber and Mitch Richmond are the two greatest players to suit up for the Kings since the move to Sacramento. Both of them had peak performance that put them among the game's elite, and they were also able to keep that status for a decent period of time.
Had Webber played in Sacramento longer, he'd likely be even higher on the list. As it is, what he accomplished in his six-plus seasons is pretty remarkable.
C-Webb was named to four straight All-Star teams (1999-00 through 2002-03), showing he was one of the league's elite. Furthermore, the power forward was first-team All-NBA once (2000-01), second-team All-NBA three times (1998-99; 2001-02; 2002-03) and third-team All-NBA once (1999-00).
He's also prominent on the franchise leaderboard, both in cumulative stats (measuring longevity) and rate stats (accounting for peak performance).
For cumulative stats, he's seventh in total rebounds (4,006), sixth in steals (568), fourth in blocks (563) and 10th in points (8,843).
However, the rate stats are really where Webber made his mark, which isn't to discount his overall production, considering he passes the test there as well. He's third in scoring average (23.5), fourth in rebounding average (10.6), sixth in steals (1.5), third in blocks (1.5), second in player efficiency rating (22.3), sixth in defensive rating (98.3), second in defensive win shares (25.0) and seventh in win shares per 48 minutes (.149).
Since you've yet to come across Mitch Richmond on the list, deductive reasoning would indicate he's ranked ahead of Webber. In my opinion, Richmond maintained his status as a top-flight player for a longer period of time than C-Webb, which gave him the better ranking. However, Webber at his best, both offensively and defensively, was a better player than Richmond at his peak.
5. Bobby Wanzer
Based on statistics alone, Bobby Wanzer wouldn't be ranked so highly on this list. His averages of 12.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists resemble those of an elite reserve or borderline starter.
But it's important to remember the game was different when Wanzer played in the 1950s. There was less scoring, partially due to no shot clock, and contests were officiated much differently, with a lot more contact permitted than in the present time. These changes tended to damper Wanzer's stats.
However, there's no denying the respect he earned from his peers. Wanzer was named to five consecutive All-Star teams (1951-52 through 1955-56). He was also second-team All-NBA for three straight seasons (1951-52 through 1953-54). But perhaps most telling are his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame and his big presence on the franchise's only championship team.
In terms of franchise standing, Wanzer is third in win shares (63.9), third in offensive win shares (47.3), 10th in defensive win shares (16.6) and sixth in win shares per 48 minutes (.156). Those numbers, plus his accolades, give a better indication of his true value, as both are compared with the competition he played against.
4. Mitch Richmond
Deciding between Chris Webber and Mitch Richmond as the greatest player in the Sacramento era was extremely difficult. Ultimately Richmond gets the nod.
The guard was one of the elite scorers to play for the franchise, averaging 23.3 points points per game, which is fifth best. Yet Richmond comes in third in total points with 12,070.
As those that watched him can attest, Richmond scored in a variety of ways. He could slash to the hoop or use his excellent touch to torch opponents from outside. He's also one of the few things for fans to look forward to on some of the teams he played on.
Despite playing on mostly subpar squads, Richmond etched his place among the greatest of his generation. He was named to six consecutive All-Star teams (1992-93 though 1997-98). Furthermore, he was second-team All-NBA three times (1993-94; 1994-95; 1996-97) and third-team All-NBA twice (1995-96; 1997-98).
In terms of franchise standing, Richmond is second in three-point field goals (993), third in steals (670), seventh in three-point percentage (.404), 10th in player efficiency rating (18.4) and eighth in win shares (50.4).
Other players, Webber in particular, could occupy this spot instead. However, Richmond's the choice because of his consistency. While C-Webb at his best (2000-01) was better than Mitch at his best, Richmond was able to sustain his standing in the game for a longer period of time. And it's not like there was a dramatic difference between the two in peak performance. Therefore, Richmond's consistency wins out.
3. Jerry Lucas
Jerry Lucas only spent six full seasons with the organization. But his production during that time is other-worldy and more than enough to cement his standing.
Luke, as he was called, established himself as one of the best players of his era, using his 6'8" frame to average 19.6 points and 19.1 rebounds during his tenure with the team. That also includes two 20-20 campaigns (1964-65; 1965-66).
His production was enough to get him named to six consecutive All-Star teams for the Cincinnati Royals, as the team was called at the time. He also garnered first-team All-NBA honors on three occasions (1964-65; 1965-66; 1967-68) and second-team All-NBA twice (1963-64; 1966-67).
Furthermore, the power forward was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1980, largely due to his exploits with the Royals, whom he posted his most productive years with.
In terms of franchise standing, Lucas is first in rebound average and eighth in scoring average. He's also second in total rebounds (8,876), seventh in total points (9,107), fifth in player efficiency rating (19.2) and fifth in total win shares (57.8).
While you could make statistical arguments for other players based on standing in the franchise leaderboard, few come close to Luke's standing in the game, which established him as one of the league's premier players.
2. Jack Twyman
Jack Twyman spent his entire 11-year career with the team. In that time, he showed both productive longevity and peak performance.
His 15,840 points rank second in franchise history. The same can be said of his win shares (75.0) and offensive win shares (59.6)—they come in second on the team's all-time leaderboard.
In terms of peak value, Twyman was named to six All-Star teams. He was All-NBA second team on two occasions. His 19.2 scoring average, which ranks ninth in franchise history, is surely solid. Yet he had a four-year stretch (1958-59 to 1961-62) when averaged 26.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists, including his career year (1959-60) of 31.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
But the main accomplishment that earned Twyman's place in franchise history is the respect he garnered within the game. To be named to six All-Star teams shows his standing among his peers. The same can be said of his induction into the Hall of Fame. Beyond that, it also shows he possessed peak and long-term value.
His second-place standing in win shares also doesn't hurt, exemplifying he brought the second-most value of any franchise player during the duration of his career.
1. Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson is far and away the greatest player in franchise history. Nobody else even comes close to the Big-O.
He's the franchise leader in total points (22,009), total assists (7,731), minutes played (33,088) and total win shares (154.2).
But it's not like Robertson was solely a compiler who had a ton of cumulative stats but wasn't ever the team's player. He also leads the franchise in many rate stats. He has the highest averages in scoring (29.3), assists (10.3), player efficiency rating (25.0) and win shares per 48 minutes (.224).
Furthermore, the Big-O was one of the game's all-time elite players. He's an NBA Hall of Famer. He was named to the All-Star team in all 10 of his seasons with the team. He was All-NBA first team in nine of his years and All-NBA second team in the other. Not to mention he was named the NBA MVP in 1963-64.
Also worth noting, Robertson is famous for averaging a triple-double in 1961-62, with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. No doubt that's a great accomplishment and one that will likely never be seen again. However, what's even more amazing is he averaged a triple-double over his first six seasons (30.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.7 assists).
The NBA may never see another player match Robertson's ability to fill up a stat sheet. And it's hard to imagine the Kings ever acquiring a player that eclipses his production. So it's safe to say the Big-O will have his place as the franchise's greatest player for years to come.
Follow me on Twitter: @SimRisso