Sacramento Kings: 25 Greatest Players in Franchise History
With a nod to the Cincinnati Royals and Oscar Robertson, it is long due for a true top 25 list of the Sacramento era Kings players. This often overlooked franchise has produced a number of hometown heroes who lifted the spirits of NBA fans in Northern California through many lean years. Here are the top 25 Greatest Players in Sacramento Kings history.
In comprising this list statistics were combined with influence of contemporary events. This scheme of organization is not purely achievement based, rather a consideration for timely importance and franchise development. Keep this in mind as you stroll through Sacramento Kings legacy from 25 years of NBA basketball in California's capital.
Enjoy this look back into Sacramento Basketball history revisiting some fan favorites, hard workers and a few NBA legends.
25th Greatest Sacramento King: Ricky Berry (1989)
Ricky Berry played one season with Sacramento in 1988-1989 but was an efficient scorer throughout his NBA career. He averaged 11 points and 40 percent shooting from long range in just 22 minutes per game.
He played 64 games that season and was one of the best jump shooters who could also drive to the line and earn charity throws. In one famous game against Denver he took ten trips to the free throw line. Berry was the 18th pick in the 1988 draft. He tragically committed suicide after his rookie season. Berry would have had the chance to improve his place in the top 25 Kings of all-time had the tragedy been avoided.
24th Greatest Sacamento King: Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) (2006-2008)
From 2006 to 2008 Ron Artest wore Sacramento Kings' purple enjoying his career-highs in scoring, shooting and assists. These three years were his most productive, and possible least memorable seasons of his career.
During this time Artest was something near a model citizen and was friendly to the media and his teammates. His tenure was short but significant during the last competitive era for the Sacramento Kings to date. Ron took it upon himself to take leadership and force the issue offensively when the team needed a spark.
23rd Greatest Sacramento King: Wayman Tisdale (1989-1994)
Wayman Tisdale was a strong NBA presence and an accomplished jazz musician. Wayman (June 9, 1964 – May 15, 2009) was a great collegiate player celebrating three All-American awards at the University of Oklahoma and was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Face in 2009.
Wayman was a favorite personality and a friendly face in the locker room. He was a class act and a talented musician. He pursued his passions in life and personified Kings tradition.
In Sacramento Wayman was a fixture for five years. His best season was in 1989–90. Tisdale averaged 22.3 points and 7.5 rebounds a game and collaborated frequently with Mitch Richmond as a dynamic combination that was perhaps the best combo in Kings history.
22nd Greatest Sacramento King: Jim Jackson (2002-2003)
Jim Jackson owns a tie for the most NBA teams played for at 12. Jackson had a storied NBA career and makes this list for that reason. He was a remarkable journeyman who played the 2002-2003 season with the Sacramento Kings.
In 14 NBA seasons Jim Jackson was valued by nearly half the league and highlight sought after on many short term contracts. Jackson played off the bench as the sixth man for a very talented team contributing veteran leadership alongside seven points and four rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
Jim Jackson was a critical part of close game situations seeing minutes during defining moments of that season. He was remarkably efficient in his stints in Sacramento and played within the system very well. It is his NBA career and longevity that partially places him in this list.
21st Greatest Sacramento King: Sarunas Marciulionis (1996)
Sarunas Marciulionis was one of the first European players to earn significant playing time in the NBA. In this light he was a pioneer opening doors for the multiple talents like later King Peja Stojakovic to enter the NBA.
Sarunas was a brilliant shooter. In 1995-1996 he shot 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. He played his best seasons with the Golden State Warriors but brought valuable clutch baskets to many games including a double-overtime battle in Sacramento driving a 111-110 win.
20th Greatest Sacramento King: Harold Pressley (1987-1990)
Harold Pressley played 299 games with the Sacramento Kings from 1987 to 1990. During that time he averaged nine points, 43 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, and two assists. Pressley was a valuable role player at around 20 minutes per game in the NBA.
Presley recorded the first collegiate triple-double at Villanova in Big East history. He recorded the feat with an unorthodox 19 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 blocks. He was a versatile player in Sacramento and a defensive asset the likes of which would not be seen again for many years.
19th Greatest Sacramento King: Jon Barry (1998-2001)
Through the lean years turning the NBA century Jon Barry was a staple for four years of Kings Basketball. Shedding some of the family shadow Jon Barry carved his own NBA story with 4,715 career points scoring 326 in his playoff career.
Aside from number comparisons, Jon Barry was a role player during an important transition period for Sacramento rallying fan support and rebuilding respect for the franchise that set the ball rolling for winning seasons. Barry's attention to detail and chemistry with teammates was an honorable position in Kings history.
Barry's skills and knowledge are now evident to the country as a sportscaster and contributor to NBA media outlets nationwide. Jon is a class act and has represented the franchise and the city of Sacramento with pride.
18th Greatest Sacramento King: Brad Miller (2003-2009)
Few big men stepped out to shoot and pass like Brad Miller in Sacramento. Often referred to as a "Point Center" by Kings broadcasters, Brad was a versatile face-up big man for the Kings. Miller's unique make-up combined size and finesse from the elbow as a triple threat.
Miller had a keen eye for opportunity. He could shoot lights out from the free throw area and spot his teammates on cuts. He had a knack for pick and roll situations and learned a lot from Vlade Divac. He was one of the better scoring centers in the league during his time and perhaps the best shooter from mid range.
Brad Miller was a great fit for the Kings during a time of high assist to turnover ratios. He was strong on the defensive boards and a presence that glued the offensive flow together in the middle. He was part of one of the best eras of Kings basketball to date.
17th Best Sacramento King: Otis Thorpe (1984-1988, 1998)
Otis Thorpe was a strong NBA presence with 17,600 career points over a remarkable 17 years. In two stints with the Kings organization. Thorpe was the last Kansas City era player to retire in 2001 after a storied NBA career.
At 6'9" Otis Thorpe played larger than his size. His expansive wingspan made him a defensive presence and a shooter that could not be blocked from mid range. Thorpe left the Kings with Mitch Richmond in 1999 when Chris Webber arrived in Sacramento.
16th Best Sacramento King: Brian Grant (1994-1997)
Selected by Sacramento in the first-round by the Sacramento Kings with the eighth pick, Brian Grant was a staple big man in the Western Conference. Grant played power forward and center for five teams over the course of 12 seasons in the NBA.
Grant would eventually option out of his contract to sign for seven seasons with the Trail Blazers but left an impact in Sacramento. I am aware that Otis Thorpe had a more significant career but spent less time on the floor with the Kings in years of redefining the franchise into the modern day Kings.
Grant played through a lot of lean years in Sacramento. Brian Grant aided the team off the court with many charitable events and community initiatives. He had an excellent rookie season with the Kings being named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
15th Greatest Sacramento King: Billy Owns (1996-1998)
Billy Owens was another like Brian Grant who saw a lot of struggle in Sacramento but built team character fighting the Sonics, Jazz, and Suns for playoff seeding yearly. Owens averaged 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and gave effort every time on the court.
I recall watching Owens on a nightly basis when the Kings were in the hunt for the playoffs. His consistent yield of production per minute reinforced the confidence that the Kings held for Billy's performance. When Billy Owens was traded to Golden State, Mitch Richmond entered Sacramento. In this transaction the Kings franchised took a new path.
14th Greatest Sacramento King: Doug Christie (2000-2005)
Throw up the signature hand signal because it's time to discuss defensive specialist Doug Christie. This Pepperdine grad brought a whole new intensity to the competitive era Kings. Through six years of shooting guard service Doug Christie was unforgettable.
Kings fans may be surprised to know that Christie began as a street ball regular and had to gain the basics of basketball in the middle of his rise to the professional ranks. Through three trades after being drafted Doug saw little playing time. It was his time in Sacramento where he established himself as an elite NBA defender and quality starter.
The energetic and sometimes hot shooting Doug Christie played in unison with Mike Bibby as one of the best back courts in Kings history. Doug put so much pressure on Western Conference star guards that it helped weaken strengths of opponents and allowed the Kings to contend with the best in the West for multiple seasons.
Doug is a memorable figure for his frequent gestures on the court to refocus his energy. He was a consistent producer and could occasionally score in surprising bunches. He was a selfless player that gave his heart and best NBA years to the Kings.
13th Greatest Sacramento King: Corliss Williamson(1995-2000, 2005-2007)
Corliss "occasionally Scoreless" Williamson was a memorable King who scored often in great numbers to aid in Kings victories. Nicknamed, "Big Nasty", Williamson toured four teams over 12 seasons as an NBA player.
Corliss found success as the NBA's sixth man of the year in 2002 and NBA champion in 2004. While his Sacramento years were his least noteworthy in terms of awards, they were key years of production and scoring in the league.
Williamson was a power forward in college but was found to be undersized in the NBA. He made up for size with quickness and implemented multiple pivots to shake up the defense. His advanced methods of inside scoring with tenacious offensive rebounded made Corliss a special player for Sacramento.
12th Greatest Sacramento King: Duane Causwell (1991-1997)
Duane Causwell was with the Kings for a seven-year span which is among the longest tenures of the Sacramento era. He was selected 18th overall by the Kings in the 1990 NBA draft and exceeded expectations as a big man with 2,273 career rebounds.
Causwell was a staple through most of the 1990s and played in 429 games for Sacramento averaging 5.5 points and 51 percent shooting. He is the Kings all-time leader in blocks with 695. Duane stood 7'0" and weighed 240 pounds providing a formidable defensive force.
12th Greatest Sacramento King: Peja Stojakovic
Originally pronounced Predrag in his early NBA career, Peja became an all-time favorite King for thousands. Peja was perhaps the best pure shooter in Sacramento history. During warm-ups amazed fans watched while Peja would stand at mid court taking teammates bets draining half court shots with ease.
Kings television broadcaster Jerry Reynolds referred to Peja's three point prowess as the Serbian free throw. Without regards to numbers fans understand the skill that Peja was able to loft the ball into perfect arc. He was a regular-season wizard and could go on hot streaks that would light up the scoreboard. Peja was simply a joy to watch from beyond the arc.
11th Greatest Sacramento King: Lionel Simmons (1991-1997)
"The Train" Lionel Simmons was a classic King. His stat line is impressive. Simmons produced 12.8 PPG, .433 FG%, 6.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 STL and .8 BLK. He was a role player through eight seasons.
Simmons is a top five King in nearly every category. His balance was unmatched in the era for Sacramento. When needed, Simmons would rise to key situations and delight the fans with his well-rounded game throughout his extensive Kings career.
10th Greatest Sacramento King: Bobby Jackson (2000-2005)
Five years as the best backup player in Kings history marks impressive distinctions for naming Bobby number ten on this list. The reason is simple, no player brought more energy off the bench and gave his body to the game like Bobby Jackson in Sacramento history.
Bobby Jackson was a hustle player. He could shoot and pass in an instant. He kept defenses guessing. Most importantly, he was always sprinting. The fans loved his energy and Jackson was awarded sixth man of the year in 2003 for his efforts that were equally impressive through his contract with the Kings. No other King accepted his role with the passion as Bobby Jackson off the bench.
Oh yeah, and Jackson was a deal at only $3 million per year.
9th Greatest Sacramento King: Kevin Martin (2004-2010)
Kevin Martin sprouted to star level skills in Sacramento. He developed into a surprising success for his unusual size in the NBA. He became a true swing man and is deceptively quick. Pushing 20 points per game in 2006, Kevin Martin is proving himself to be better than all estimates predicted.
Kevin's career story continues to be told.
8th Greatest Sacramento King: Jason Williams (1998-2001)
Jason Williams thrilled crowds. He pushed tempos and brought fans to their feet with sublime passes and elastic lay-ups. As a young player he was a flash that excited Kings fans and will always be fondly remembered as a star for the franchise that became a role player later on who was a shadow of the sparky rookie and fan favorite in Sacramento.
7th Greatest Sacramento King: LaSalle Thompson (1982-1989)
The fifth overall pick in 1982 was LaSalle Thompson. He was one of the greatest Kings in history. "The Tank" was a powerhouse of old school proportions. He was a gamer and a favorite of the era for his effort and skill. The Ohio native was significant through the 1980s Kings era.
6th Greatest Sacramento King: Mike Bibby (2001-2008)
In many ways Mike Bibby was the modern Kings in microcosm. Clipping his nails constantly on the bench Mike Bibby played in four of the most successful years in Kings history. He was a spot shooter and clutch master. Bibby plays on but is a Kings favorite forever because of his heart and effort that he brought every night.
Mike Bibby's jump to release was a memorable pocket shot style that gave fans the chance to stand up in preparation for a wild celebration anytime the game was on the line. Mike was a great handler and floor general who was never afraid to hoist up a shot.
5th Greatest Sacramento King: Vlade Divac (1999-2004)
Retired #21 in Sacramento, Vlade Divac was a community man and a wily veteran. Vlade is one of the great centers in Kings history and the best passer out of that position. He trained Brad Miller on the job and led the team in spirit and knowledge. Vlade may be the cagiest player in Kings history and is an NBA legend.
4th Greatest Sacramento King: Spud Webb (1991-1995)
Spud Webb is a folklore nowadays. He had the best vertical jump in Kings history and is a marvel on the basketball court. He competed every night and was the shortest player of his era before Bogues and Boykins. Spud was a key figure in Kings history.
3rd and 2nd Greatest Kings: Geoff Petrie and Rick Adelman
Rick and Geoff worked so hard and fell just short for consecutive years. Adelman led the Kings to eight seasons with 50 wins or better. The high water mark of the franchise was due to the efforts and start planning of these two leaders.
Who Is the Best Sacramento King Ever? Mitch Richmond or Chris Webber?
Here is the royal twist. Present day fans remember Webber, and history will as well. From 1999 to 2005 Webber was the face of the franchise. Chris was the biggest star of the modern Kings era. He was an artist with the assist, and a powerhouse player before injuries. He redefined his game post injury and became a shooting threat and smarter player.
Here are some of Webber's many accomplishments.
- 23.5 PPG, .473 FG%, 10.6 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.5 BLK
- 4th All-Time in Minutes Played (14,627)
- 2nd All-Time in Field Goals Made (3,691)
- 5th All-Time in Free Throws Made (1,406)
- 3rd All-Time in Offensive Rebounds (969)
- 1st All-Time in Defensive Rebounds (3,037)
- 1st All-Time in Total Rebounds (4,006)
- 5th All-Time in Assists (1,791)
- 4th All-Time in Steals (568)
- 2nd All-Time in Blocks (553)
- 3rd All-Time in Points (8,843)
- 3rd All-Time in Playoff Games (53) and Steals (216)
Mitch Richmond (1991-1998) was also critical to the franchise and one of the all-time great guards. He held his own against Jordan in Chicago. He was a sole star on a team that struggled to make the eight seed in the west. Richmond is a legend.
- NBA Champion (2002)
- NBA Rookie of the Year (1989)
- 6× NBA All-Star (1993–1998)
- 3× All-NBA Second Team (1994–1995, 1997)
- 2× All-NBA Third Team (1996, 1998)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1989)
- NBA All-Star Game MVP (1995)
- #2 Retired by the Sacramento Kings
- Consensus NCAA All-American Second Team (1988)
Now its your turn, who is the greatest Sacramento King ever? Is it Mitch Richmond, or Chris Webber?
Long live the Kings!